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last updated 12/09/2019


Franchise Awards 1998 - Full Results

last updated 12/09/2019


October 1998 - First-time entrant Rosemary Gore is New Zealand’s Franchisee of the Year, while Star Mart takes out the Franchise System title

‘Winning was a real shock,’ says the still-stunned Rosemary Gore, Franchisee of the Year for 1998. ‘When I put the entry in, I thought that was the last I’d hear of that. I had no idea we were in with a chance, but my master franchisee suggested we go and see what it was like so we could set our sights for next year.’

‘It was such a special night. When our name was announced everyone was so delighted for us – we were sharing a table with all these lawyers, and they were stamping and cheering and hooting. I’ll never forget it.’

Rosemary Gore owns the Meticulous Maids home cleaning franchise for Remuera, in Auckland. As well as the Franchisee of the Year title, she also won the Best Service Franchisee award.

The Best Retail Franchisee of the Year award went to last year’s supreme winners, Alistair and Debbie Boyd of Brumby’s, Christchurch, while a Certificate of Merit was awarded to Garry and Sandra Payne of Green Acres Lawnmowing - East Auckland.

Awards

The WestpacTrust New Zealand Franchise Awards for 1998 were announced at a black tie dinner in Auckland’s Hyatt Hotel on October 31st. The Awards ceremony, which was attended by over 200 people, was hosted by actor, comedian and singer Mark Hadlow.

First presented in 1995, the New Zealand Franchise Awards represent the pinnacle of achievement in franchising. Entry was open to all franchisors and franchisees, and judging was carried out based on criteria developed by the New Zealand Quality Foundation.

The judges were: Jeff Luskie - National Manager, Customer Service/Quality Development, Telecom Directories; Professor Gael McDonald - Dean, Faculty of Business at UNITEC; and Maurice Mehlhopt - Executive Director, Newspaper Advertising Bureau.

Jeff Luskie, head of the judging panel, says the standard of entries in this year’s Awards demonstrates the increasing professionalism of franchising and its resilience to the economic downturn.

‘In entering the WestpacTrust Franchise Awards, franchisors and franchisees thoroughly investigate and document all aspects of their business,’ he says. ‘They need to demonstrate to us that their systems, their service and their professionalism are of the highest standard possible.

‘This year’s winners are New Zealand’s leading franchisees and franchise systems. They exemplify how franchises should be operated to provide great service and products to clients, and reliable income to franchisees.’

WestpacTrust Supreme Award - Franchisee of the Year

Rosemary Gore – Meticulous Maids Remuera

Best Service Franchisee

Rosemary Gore is no stranger to franchising – she and her husband Bryan also own a Wendy’s Supa Sundaes franchise at Auckland’s Birkenhead centre.

‘We bought that four years ago after Bryan sold his butchery business,’ says Rosemary. ‘We’d seen the growth of franchising, and we loved the idea of a support network where you could buddy up with people as well as having buying and marketing power. We didn’t want to start something untried – at our time of life, we had too much to lose.’

Working together proved interesting. ‘There were two of us in too small a space,’ Rosemary laughs. ‘I’m far too bossy to work with Bryan – he’s very laid-back. We’re both successful, but we have different methods of getting there.’

Rosemary decided that a franchise of her own would be a good move. ‘I researched trends both here and in the US, and the growth of the service industry was outstanding. The Remuera franchise for Meticulous Maids had become available after the previous owner had moved overseas, and I knew it had potential.’ She bought it 2½ years ago.

‘My friends thought it was the biggest joke out, because I’d never even cleaned my own house. Even my husband laughed and said “I’ve got to see this.” But I knew I could do it, and I could build a business which would not only give me an excellent return but which would be saleable at the end of it.’

The Meticulous Maids system was founded by Kaylene MacMillan based on her experiences in both domestic and hotel housekeeping and cleaning. The franchise’s two-person team system means that homes can be cleaned to an exceptionally high standard in a relatively short period of time. Franchisees often start by doing some of the cleaning themselves, but as the business builds they take on a more managerial role and employ cleaning teams.

‘I inherited some staff when I bought the business, but that first week I did a lot of the cleaning myself to get the feel for it. I was a blithering idiot by the end of it – it nearly killed me,’ confesses Rosemary. These days her business is nearly four times bigger and she has eight part-timers, but she still does two days’ cleaning a week herself. ‘You can’t tell your staff what to do if they don’t see you doing it yourself. Anyway, when we all go out together I shout them lunch. I make sure having the boss along isn’t a chore.’

Rosemary’s lively enthusiasm and throw-away humour (‘It doesn’t take a lot of brains to clean a dunny!’) typify the joy and lust for life which Rosemary puts into all she does. A community worker for 12 years, Rosemary is also a JP, a marriage celebrant, and used to be a local councillor.

Her recipe for success is simple. ‘I spend a lot of time and effort developing relationships with customers and staff. If you do that and are genuine and sincere, you get the payback. I say to my customers, “I guarantee our work 100 percent. If you’re not happy for any reason, do ring me – and I mean that. Nobody’s perfect, and it might take us a couple of weeks to learn how to get your home right, so ring me.”

‘The other day I got a call from a customer who told me we’d missed dusting her bedside table. I said, “I’m so sorry, the girls are just five minutes away, they’ll come straight back.” She could have done it herself in a matter of seconds, but that wasn’t the point. I was so chuffed that she’d taken the trouble to ring me, because it gave me the chance to put it right. That matters.’

And Rosemary offers some added value. ‘Because I’m a JP, I often sign and witness documents for people – it’s all part of the service. I tell them I’ll do a package deal - clean the house and marry the family too, and I’ve actually done it for a couple of customers. I love marrying people – it creates so much joy.’

Rosemary decided to enter the Franchise Awards after reading about last year’s winners in Franchise New Zealand. ‘I really enjoyed doing the entry, because it made me look at my business. What are we good at? What are we not so good at? I’d done the Chamber of Commerce business planning course a while back so I did have a business plan of sorts, but this was much more searching – it was about what we actually do.

‘The 20 page limitation on entries was excellent, because it made me much more concise and focussed. I still found room for lots of photos, customer comments, plenty of colour – it was fun! I never expected to win, though.’

For Rosemary, the Awards are the start of a whole new path. ‘After doing the entry, I went and did the New Zealand Quality Foundation workshop, and now we’re halfway through getting Telarc approval. It’s partly for the business, because it won’t be long before you need Telarc or ISO qualifications to get contract work, but it’s also for me. I want to go on learning. I like training, I like mental stimulation.’

And she echoes the statements of every previous winner of the Franchisee of the Year title. ‘Meticulous Maids is a very attractive business and the bottom line return on investment is excellent, but what you get out of anything is a direct reflection of the commitment you make. You only get out what you put in.’

Best Retail Franchisee of the Year

Alistair & Debbie Boyd – Brumby's Hot Bread Shops, Christchurch

Last year Debbie Boyd was at home setting new records in their Edgware store when husband Alistair rang to tell her they had won the Franchisee of the Year title. This year she was up on stage with him, and there were tears in her eyes.

The last twelve months have been hectic ones for the Boyd’s. In addition to the rapid growth of their original Brumby’s outlet, they have opened a second store in Merivale, found time to enter the Awards again, and been involved in the training of three new Brumby’s franchisees. ‘Mind you, the golf has suffered,’ admits Alistair.

The new store opened in August, and has presented some new challenges for the pair. ‘They say running one store is OK, running two is bloody difficult, and running three is the easiest thing in the world because by then you’ve learned to delegate,’ smiles Alistair. ‘We’re looking forward to number three…’

‘Actually, it hasn’t been that bad. We made the decision to keep the Edgware team together rather than taking some people to the new store, and appointed a retail manager at Edgware instead. Debbie and I divide our time between the two stores, and it’s all worked out fine. Merivale is on target and growing by the week, and having two new franchisees in training is actually a great help. A lot of the time you’ve got to demonstrate the practical side of production, or how to handle staff or treat customers, and that helps re-focus you on the basics.’

Having won the Franchisee of the Year title last year, what did the Boyd’s have left to prove?

‘The Award is almost an excuse for going through the process of examining your own business,’ explains Alistair. ‘For us, it was valuable to ask ourselves if we were still maintaining what we were doing despite the distractions.

‘It was very interesting. Easter is a really busy period for us which seems to last 8 or 9 weeks. Just after that we were all getting a bit niggly, so we pulled out last year’s entry and asked ourselves if we were still doing things as we used to. We’d lost a bit of focus over that busy period – having it all written down helped to get us back on track.

‘This year’s entry was quite different, with another twelve months’ trading behind us and a second store opening. Next year will be even more complicated, but we’ll do it again. It’s not a matter of winning – it’s a matter of good business.’

Service Franchisee of the Year – Certificate of Merit

Garry & Sandra Payne, Green Acres Lawnmowing, East Auckland

Garry and Sandra Payne are another couple who were back on stage this year after winning the Service category in 1997. The couple are area master franchisees for Green Acres, with 40 franchisees in their territory.

Although Green Acres also did well in the Franchise System category, there was no concerted effort by the company. ‘In fact, they didn’t know we were entering until we walked into the office and asked them to take a look at what we’d done,’ says Garry.

The Payne’s stood out last year as the franchisees who learned Mandarin Chinese to talk to their Asian customers. This year’s entry was devised by Sandra and went into a lot more detail ‘especially on the dollars side’.

According to Garry, the market is becoming increasingly competitive both for recruiting new franchisees and winning new customers. ‘Green Acres is still the number one company, but it’s up to us to keep it that way. We can’t afford to sit back,’ he says. He sees entering the Awards as an essential part of their continuous search for improvement.

‘We put a lot more time into contacting and speaking to our clients now. It’s a standard part of our programme to speak to every new client after the first job to make sure they’re satisfied. That sort of thing is pretty basic, but it’s easy to overlook when you become busy. The questions they ask in the Awards criteria are pretty helpful like that – they identify lots of little things you can pick up on and change, and all the little things add up.

‘As area master franchisees, it’s our job to ensure the operators have the skills and training they need to live up to our reputation. Our system is a bit different, in that we guarantee our operators that if they lose a customer, we will find another one. Of course, you’re bound to lose customers occasionally because people move or have a change in circumstances, but we want to ensure that no-one leaves because they’re unhappy with our service. If we make a mistake, we need to know about it so we get the chance to put things right. Sometimes people won’t tell you unless you ask, so now we ask – simple.’

Another new initiative this year has been the appointment of Garry and Sandra’s first female lawnmowing franchisees. ‘It suits them perfectly. They can drop the kids off, work 9-3, then pick them up again. In the meantime, as one of them says, they get paid to work in the sun, keep trim, and be their own boss. Better than gym membership,’ Garry laughs.

And Garry has also been appointed by his peers to Green Acres’ Franchise Advisory Council. ‘It’s a way of getting more input to the whole system from all around the country,’ says Garry. ‘It’s all part of getting better – and staying ahead.’

Measuring Franchise Excellence

In the Franchise System category, the WestpacTrust New Zealand Franchise Awards for 1998 recognised three very different companies

From a franchise created by the New Zealand arm of a giant multi-national to one founded by a local boy who left school at 15, the results of the WestpacTrust New Zealand Franchise Awards for 1998 said much for the health and diversity of franchising.

The winner of the WestpacTrust Supreme Award for Franchise System of the Year was Star Mart – the 24-hour convenience store franchise created by Caltex. Star Mart also won the Best Retail category.

Best Service Franchise System went to landscape design and maintenance company Bill & Ben’s, while a Certificate of Merit was awarded to Green Acres Home Services.

1998 marked the fourth year of the Franchise Awards, which are organised by the Franchise Association of New Zealand. ‘The Awards have grown enormously in stature since that first event,’ says Win Robinson, chairman of the Awards Committee. ‘An Award is now bankable in terms of its prestige, its publicity value, and its importance in attracting the right franchisees. That was recognised in the record number of entries we received this year in all categories.’

WestpacTrust Supreme Award - Franchise System of the Year

Star Mart

Best Retail Franchise System

While Bill & Ben’s and Green Acres are no strangers to the Awards stage, Star Mart were first time entrants – and first time winners.

The first Star Mart opened in November 1996, and marked the dedication of parent company Caltex to developing a quality convenience store chain. There are now 49 Star Marts, of which 30 have been franchised to date.

‘Decreasing fuel margins mean that Caltex has looked to diversify its revenue base,’ says Greg. ‘New Zealand is well over-supplied in terms of the number of fuel pumps per head of population, but the concept of convenience shopping has not been well-served here.’

For most franchisees, Star Mart is part of an overall package that can include fuel service, a car wash, servicing facilities and even a quick service restaurant such as Subway. 

‘Convenience stores represent a new era of shopping in New Zealand,’ explains Greg Chapman, Star Mart’s franchise system development manager. ‘From the customer’s point of view, they’re great. They’re located on major traffic routes, you don’t have problems parking, they’re open when you want them, and they have all the basic necessities plus a few luxuries. Now the concept has been proven we’re branching out, and the first ‘stand-alone’ Star Mart will open shortly in downtown Wellington.

‘To make the most of the opportunities, though, outlets need to be operated by dynamic retailers. That’s why Caltex chose the franchise route.’

Although the Star Mart franchise is relatively new, a lot of the systems involved have been in use within Caltex for some time. Recognising that setting up a franchise required some specialist knowledge, Caltex employed experienced consultants who spent three months analysing the needs of the new business and bringing all the systems together.

‘Franchising is part of our strategy to achieve a competitive advantage. Our franchise owners get more involved in the local community than company managers ever can, but they need the systems and support to be there. That’s our job.’

Franchisees can call upon a wide range of support. ‘The length of their pre-opening training depends upon their previous experience,’ explains Greg. ‘If they are new to the industry, we will give them 3-4 weeks at our training centre in Auckland, followed by 2-3 weeks training on-site. In many cases, owners are taking over an existing location so we try to train them in their own site if possible.’

On opening, Star Mart specialists go through a checklist that includes computer systems and merchandising, then a business manager will stay with new franchisees to make sure they get up and running efficiently – whether that takes two days or two weeks. After that, the business manager will visit each site every week or two.

This field support system is vital to ensuring the quality and performance of each franchise. The seven business managers come from a variety of backgrounds but have mostly been with Caltex for some time. Greg Chapman explains, ‘They must have business consulting skills and be able to develop and execute plans with the franchisees. They will have had in-house training over the years in such things as merchandising, accounting, computer systems and interview technique, but they can also call upon specialist help in these areas.

‘Basically, their role is to help each franchise owner develop the maximum potential of their site.’

Additional support comes from a comprehensive 400-page manual, regular national and regional conferences, and a bi-monthly magazine for franchisees and crew incorporating people news, details of promotional activities and merchandising information. There is also a fortnightly newsletter. ‘It’s important not to flood people with lots of memos,’ says Greg. ‘The magazine and newsletter help to contain information in a more readable form.’

What was Star Mart’s motivation for entering the Awards?

‘We like to think that we’ve done a pretty good job to date, but the only thing that’s certain is change. Entering the Awards gave us a framework to evaluate what we’d done so far, to look for points of weakness and look for areas where we can improve.

‘We took it very seriously. The Association put on seminars around the country for people who were thinking about entering, and we found the one we attended very helpful. Sue MacEwan, a Quality Improvement Consultant with NZ Post, gave a presentation explaining each of the criteria and what sort of evidence of achievement the judges would be looking for.

‘Alan Marriott, the previous chief judge for the Awards, wrote a booklet which gave further advice, and the NZQF also offered to put you in touch with a coach who could help evaluate what you did. We had someone give us 6-8 hours of their time for free. The support offered was excellent.

‘Our entry must have taken around 100 hours to prepare, and we did it all in-house. We learned a lot, and I’m sure our system will be the better for it.

‘One thing which all the previous winners have mentioned is the need for continuous improvement, and we’ve certainly recognised that. We’ve already spent the last two weeks in workshop sessions, dissecting our operating procedures with franchise owners and looking for improvements.

‘And the publicity from winning won’t do our franchisee recruitment programme any harm either,’ Greg smiles.

Best Service Franchise System Award

Bill & Ben's

The world of the big corporation is familiar to Gavin Watson too, though he left all that behind him long ago. As an executive with Alex Harvey Industries (now part of CHH) he travelled the world on business, and it was his experiences in the US which caused him to found the Bill & Ben’s landscape design and construction business.

The company started franchising four years ago, and was recognised with a Certificate of Merit in last year’s Franchise Awards. This year, they won the Best Service Franchise System title. What changes have they made since last year?

‘We’ve instituted much stricter business planning for ourselves as franchisors,’ says Gavin. ‘The process of entering last year opened up some areas we needed to work on, and one of them was people. A franchise can’t work unless a number of people are performing well, and we needed to give them space to do that. I used to be the person who called all the shots – a bit autocratic,’ he admits frankly. ‘Now we’ve changed job roles and responsibilities around. That’s helped me get on with the next stage, and we’ve been able to put some long-term plans in place.

During the past 12 months, Bill & Ben’s has also created its first formal Franchise Advisory Council. ‘You have to accept that a franchise system needs to grow and change constantly. The system is something that is applied practically and is working now – but it needs to be modernised all the time. That comes back from the franchise group.’

One major new initiative for Bill & Ben’s has been in the training and development of franchisees. ‘Although we know the basics of presentation, sales and marketing, many people going into business for the first time don’t have that knowledge although they have high skills in other areas. Our job as franchisor is to teach them these basics – it’s the difference between a franchise and a stand-alone business.

‘So we go back to step one – understanding customers and their needs, and how to respond. The importance of the impression you make in the first 15 seconds of meeting someone. The value of smiling, being courteous, on time, tidy, and of greeting people as though you really want to do business with them. We role model all that, and we teach them to be proud of themselves and their business. Until we’ve got that right, we don’t move on to the next step.

‘Our franchisees would get some sort of formal coaching at least once a week. The regional master franchisees do most of it, although both Tim Feather and Gerry Daniels are also involved.

‘We’ve learned to develop the whole person, not just the business, and we’ve had some dramatic results. We’ve encouraged some to do personal development courses, and they’ve done them – and enjoyed them. Our franchisees have invested a lot of money, and it is our job to help them get the best possible return.’

Franchise System of the Year – Certificate of Merit

Green Acres

This was the fourth year that Green Acres’ name appeared on a Franchise Award – the only company to have achieved that feat every year that the Awards have been held so far.

The Franchise Awards are intended to be judged on the quality of each individual entry, rather than on the relative performance of one franchise system versus another. It is for this reason that Certificates of Merit are awarded to entries of a high standard which might otherwise go unrecognised.

Green Acres is totally unlike any of the other winners. Its founder, Adrian Kenny, has no corporate background or management diplomas: instead, he left school at 15 ‘with no skills at all,’ he says. The son of a South Island whaler, he and his wife Sharon grew Green Acres from a single lawnmowing round eight years ago into what is now New Zealand’s largest franchise. Over 550 franchisees offer seven different home and commercial services under the Green Acres umbrella.

Despite its size, the Green Acres headquarters consists of just two people – Adrian and fellow director Andrew Chisholm. The franchise operates nationally through a series of franchised area managers and local operator franchisees.

Adrian’s apparently anarchic approach to business has created a fast-moving company which thrives on change. ‘We’re young and we’re small and we’re quick to adapt,’ he says. ‘In this business, things can change so quickly. You have to have the guts to make decisions and to see them through. The more personally responsible you are, the more that will happen.’

He sees the corporate world catching up with his philosophy. ‘Out-sourcing is the way the world is going. I don’t believe in employing people. Our franchisees and area masters are all investors, even our suppliers are stakeholders in our success. That means they all put their heart into it.’

The small management structure also means that Adrian can spend his time developing the business, rather than managing employees and departments. ‘I don’t have a lot of brains in the sense of university degrees or anything, but I’m pretty street-wise,’ he says. ‘To run a company, the most important things you need are vision and drive. You can buy in the information and the advice you need. In fact, a lot of it is free – look at what’s in this magazine.’

Of course, as the company has grown larger, maintaining the pace of change becomes more difficult. ‘Franchisees who are already earning a very good living can be slower to adopt new ideas, but that’s how we stay ahead.’ Adrian encourages his owners to ‘think outside the square. Try new things out there – if they don’t work, you can always come back inside.’

Green Acres have recently introduced additional quality service checking to ensure that customers are satisfied and encourage feedback. ‘When we were examining ourselves against the Award’s criteria last year, we realised that was an area where we could improve. It all helps to keep us on our toes – and that’s what the Awards are about.’

Self Aware

The New Zealand Franchise Awards for 1998 were sponsored once again by WestpacTrust, with additional support coming from UNITEC, the New Zealand Herald, Snap Printing and Franchise New Zealand magazine.

Trevor Pilkington, Regional General Manager of WestpacTrust Auckland, commented on the importance of the Awards. ‘Every entrant was forced to evaluate their business according to internationally-recognised standards of business success,’ he said. ‘Not one company will have failed to become more self-aware as a result of that process, and they all have the opportunity to improve. WestpacTrust is proud to be associated with the Awards, and congratulates all those who entered.’

And Gavin Watson of Bill & Ben’s says,’ Even if you didn’t enter this year, get hold of the criteria and study your business against them. They look daunting, but once you split them up into individual bits it’s fairly common sense. You can sum up what you should be doing in about three or four bits of paper. If you then do those things, you’ll have a good business.’

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