The Market

last updated 13/09/2019

Franchise Awards 1995 - Full Results

last updated 13/09/2019

August 1995 - The inaugural FAANZ New Zealand Franchising Awards recognised top franchise systems and franchisees for the first time

Anyone who has watched the Oscars will be used to the apparently overcome winners trotting out a carefully-prepared list of all the people they have to thank, from co-stars to parents (our own Anna Paquin being an honourable exception).

But when Colin Taylor collected the 1995 Franchise System of the Year Award for Stirling Sports, he spoke from the heart. ‘Our franchisees are the people who have made it all happen, and they are the real winners of this Award,’ he said. It was therefore fitting that the Franchisee of the Year Awards were presented at the same ceremony. Franchisees are the people who work a franchise system, fine-tune it and apply it to their own circumstances. They feed back information, and share their knowledge and experience for the benefit of others. They are the people at the coal face. To the customer, the franchisee is the business.

The Franchisee of the Year Awards were structured to acknowledge the excellence achieved by franchisees. Judging criteria included the areas of operational standards, excellence in customer service, product quality and  sales performance. They also covered personal and staff development, contribution to the franchise system and involvement in the community served.

The winners demonstrated their abilities in all these areas and more. They shared an ability to take the structure of a franchise system and work it to maximum effect in their own particular markets. In the first year of the Awards, they have set a standard of excellence for others to aim at.

Retail Franchisee of the Year - South Island

Robyn Hulena is the owner of the Wendy’s Supa Sundaes franchise in Riccarton Mall, Christchurch. She’s high-energy, enthusiastic and irrepressible, as full-on as a burst water-main. It’s catching - just talking to her is a buzz.

Coming into the Wendy’s franchise from a sales background, Robin cut her teeth in Hastings then transferred to Christchurch early in 1995. For Robyn, awards are becoming almost a matter of routine.

In 1994, Hastings was voted Wendy’s Supa Sundaes best overall store. In early 1995, she also picked up the franchise’s best customer service award. The thoroughness which goes into this latter award reflects the enormous importance franchisor Peter Gribble places on service. It’s one of the things that also made Wendy’s Supa Sundaes a winner in the Retail Franchise System of the Year category.

‘Wendy’s send a ‘mystery shopper’ round each store once a month  to make assessments in nine different categories,’ Robyn explains. ‘Nobody knows who they are, so they get treated just the same as any other customer.’

The mystery shoppers are strict. ‘I once got only 95% for my greeting because I just said “Hi” and not “Hi, how can I help?”. Even your farewell is assessed. It’s important that the customers leaves with a good feeling, so you don’t just say “goodbye” but also “I hope you enjoy your ice cream,” or hot dog or whatever.’

When you consider the thousands of shoppers who pass through each month, any one of whom could be carrying the invisible clipboard, the fact that Robyn’s Hastings store averaged 91% is impressive.

Christchurch has been a whole new ball game. ‘It’s getting so busy hereit’s exhilarating. There we were selling ice cream in the coldest of winters, yet our monthly sales equalled those of Hastings in summer! My goodness, what will January be like?’ Robyn already employs eleven staff, but their numbers will be boosted by students for the summer period.

Staff motivation is high on her list of priorities. She uses pride and the thrill of competition. ‘In seven months here we’ve been the franchise’s top-selling ‘outlet of the month’ six times. We have an ongoing friendly rivalry with the company store at St Lukes. They beat us into second place once, but that was in the July cold snap - our goal is to stay on top. It’s a real buzz for us when the new figures come out. When we overshoot our monthly target I give out gifts - little things like Lotto tickets, to say well done.’

Training has obviously been vital. ‘The first six months were hard. I felt I had to be here all the time - even a half-day off was risky. What if something went wrong and no-one knew what to do?’ But now her team is confident in what they do, and she’s confident in them. She put together a guide for them on the Seven Steps of Selling, and it proved so effective it has now become a standard training tool of the chain.

Even the best-serviced franchise can’t do everything for its franchisees, and a willingness to innovate and to share ideas with other franchisees is often the hallmark of the top performer in a franchise system. Robyn’s attitude to developing her own business and then sharing the fruits of her work with others outside her own four walls was undoubtedly noted by the judges.

As Robyn remarked, working for yourself can be hard and even lonely. So how does she keep herself motivated? ‘Sales keep me high. I use motivational books and videos, and I read Franchise New Zealand - it’s full of tips and really helpful for self-reflection.  Winning this Award was a great boost, too. The whole team shares in that one.’

In fact, things are going so well Robyn might even consider a holiday!

Service Franchisee of the Year - North Island

‘We’re just a little Northland company up against the big guys - we’re proud to have done so well.’

The comment comes from Judith Friar and her partner Bruce Grant, who bought their Fastway Couriers franchise in October 1991. Coming from manufacturing and accounting backgrounds, running a courier franchise was certainly a new direction. They were attracted by the efficient system Fastway had developed.

Fastway operate a tiered system of franchises; that is, individual franchised couriers constitute one level, with branch office franchises above that. Judith and Bruce took over the Whangarei branch office, which was then operating six couriers and had a monthly turnover of $30,000.

Four years later there are sixteen couriers and the turnover has shot up to $90,000 per month. How have they done it?

‘We place a lot of emphasis on communication and motivation,’ Judith says. ‘Once those are sorted out, strategic business plans become important. You set goals, and work out how to reach them.’

Judith and Bruce have been together twelve years, and are good at keeping each other motivated. They have learned some vital lessons from experience, and admit ‘We have a strict rule - no business to be discussed at home. Disasters excepted, that’s a very strict cut-off. You have to be able to get away from work sometimes.’ Within the business they have specific rôles which have been defined by their different natures: Bruce is the thinker and planner, Judith the doer.

‘Motivation is really important. We try to have regular business meetings, but only ten of our team are based in the city. We have a big area, and there are six couriers way up north we hardly ever see.’ So motivation becomes a day-by-day affair, carried out Northland-style. ‘We write lots of letters and talk over the phone. You have to let them know they’re remembered, they’re part of the team. Keep them positive - just like all the rest,’ Judith says.

‘I’m constantly on the depot floor yahooing and carrying on at them. We all have to work together. Every parcel is important, even the littlest. You can’t get careless. I have to make sure that we’re all happy chappies.’

Judith is very proud of the team she and Bruce have built up. ‘The couriers really do a good job. Then there’s Jo, our receptionist, and Bruce’s son Darryl, who is Operations Manager. We all know we can depend on each other.’

Training people properly is also important. Fastway’s new couriers spend a week on the road with a veteran, and do an intensive two-day course in Auckland. There are ongoing video courses which help even the most distant franchisees with such skills as accounts, setting business plans and selling.

The idea of entering the Franchisee of the Year Awards was encouraged by Fastway. ‘The entry form was useful; lots of questions, and some of them extremely hard to answer. It wasn’t just about performance, it covered your whole attitude to business. It really made you look inside yourself, and I’d never done that before. It was wonderful!’

Winning was wonderful, too. ‘It means a lot up here - and it’s great for advertising. People are very parochial, and very, very proud - they think it’s tremendous that a local business is beating the big guys. It shows we’re on the right path.’

Franchise System Awards

Stirling Sports has been named as New Zealand’s Franchise System of the Year for 1995. The franchised sports goods chain won the Supreme title at the end of the inaugural New Zealand Franchising Awards ceremony, held during the Auckland Business Opportunities Expo.

Their win came as the climax of a hotly fought contest between many of the country’s top franchise systems. In accepting the Award, Colin Taylor, the founder and managing director of Stirling Sports, said, ‘I am very proud that a locally-developed franchise should have become the first ever winner of this title. It is a great honour not only for me and for all the team at Stirling Sports, but particularly for all of our franchisees. They are the people who have made it all happen, and they are the real winners of the Award.’

The Awards were established by the NZ Chapter of the Franchise Association of Australia & New Zealand to promote the development of quality franchise systems. They were sponsored by Franchise New Zealand magazine, Price Waterhouse and Stewart Germann Law Office.

‘With franchised outlets in New Zealand now accounting for some $3 billion turnover per annum, we thought it was time to recognise those companies and individuals setting standards of excellence within franchising,’ says Chapter Chairman David McCulloch. ‘In doing so we could give newcomers something to aim at, and also promote publicly the value of franchising as a way of doing business.’

Entry was open to all franchises currently operating in New Zealand, who were required to answer questions on all aspects of their business. This included such areas as franchisee selection and support, company philosophy and vision,  performance, business direction, quality and service programmes, and so on. Many  companies also included copies of their promotional and operational material.

The judges were Alan Marriott, national quality manager for Telecom Directories, and Craig Walters from the Faculty of Commerce, Auckland Institute of Technology. In announcing the winners, they commented:

‘It was highly noticeable that many of the entrants have achieved success in well-established, highly competitive markets. One could conclude that the franchising format provides a unique advantage to both franchisor and franchisee, and is responsible for driving the success of these businesses.

‘The winners have demonstrated that they have the structure and support systems to maximise the likelihood of business success. Once again, the advantages of the franchise format give these businesses another edge over traditionally structured competitors.’

With the success of the inaugural Awards, plans are under way for an even bigger event next year. ‘We have received a lot of complimentary comments about the value of the Awards, and even about the process of entering itself,’  says Awards Chairman Win Robinson. ‘Colin Taylor values the publicity Stirling Sports have received at $40-50,000 - let alone the boost it gives to the franchisees.’

Stirling Sports

New Zealand Franchise System of the Year

Retail Franchise System of the Year - NZ Origin

Retail Franchise System of the Year - Turnover above $7.5 million

When Colin Taylor started his sports shop back in 1963, he could never have imagined Stirling Sports would grow to over 40 stores stretching from Invercargill to Whangarei.

Colin can look back with pride over 30 years of steady growth. ‘By 1983 we had eight company-owned stores, but we were finding the speed of progress too slow. There were more opportunities than there was money to catch up with them. That’s when we began to ease into franchising.’

When an employee wanted to start his own store but lacked the finance, Colin backed him with an arrangement that was essentially a franchise. ‘Of course, it was very new here then - there was hardly any information on franchising. We all made a lot of mistakes. But it meant that our growth rate could match the developing market, and gradually we ironed the wrinkles out.’

Stirling now has what Colin calls a ‘mature’ system. ‘We see the franchise as a family - in fact, I actually have two sons and a couple of son-in-laws as franchisees! We’re a close-knit team.’

For new franchisors wanting a short cut to twelve years of experience, Colin recommends attending the annual FAANZ conferences. ‘Around 500 people attended this year, some with systems of more than a thousand franchisees. You get instant knowledge.’

Colin is immensely moved to have won the inaugural NZ Franchise System of the Year title. The eternal flame of the elegant glass candle burns constantly on the reception desk at Stirling Sports headquarters, which are fittingly above the original shop where it all started 32 years ago.

‘It says more about us than any advert could ever do,’ he admits, ‘and it’s an enormous source of pride to all the team. Within days of the announcement, we had copies of the Award certificate hanging in all the shops. Sharing and winning - that’s what franchising is all about.’

Fastway Couriers

Service Franchise System of the Year - Turnover above $2.5 million

So many franchise systems are imported from overseas that it’s always pleasing when a local franchise goes against the tide. Fastway Couriers, with 22 branches in New Zealand, has already established 18 more in Australia and hasn’t finished yet.

Fastway is no stranger to awards. The company won the Service Industry Franchisor of the Year Award in Australia last year, and followed it up with the Export Marketing Award in the 1994 TVNZ Marketing Magazine Awards.

Bruce Speers, the NZ General Manager, attributes the company’s success to its system and the franchisees who operate it. ‘In this industry, the network you build up is very important. We spent $3 million developing the infrastructure, and it was tried and tested before we sold the first franchise.’

The company began in Napier in 1985, and took the owner-driver concept one step further by developing a two-tiered franchise system. The 300 courier franchisees operate from 22 branch offices which are themselves franchised. Some of the master franchisees at branch level ‘come up through the ranks’ after starting as drivers, while others enter Fastway directly at that level. They are responsible for selecting, directing and motivating couriers.

‘Training is key to our success,’ says Bruce. ‘We don’t want people who just want to drive a van all day. They have to be people-orientated and sales driven. The strength of the team is very dependent upon the weakest link because parcels move among everyone. For our part, we back them with market research and ongoing motivation.

‘Winning this Award has given us a lot of recognition - it’s a useful marketing tool, and given the franchisees a boost, too!’

Green Acres

Service Franchise System of the Year - NZ Origin

Adrian Kenny started out as a one-man band mowing lawns in Auckland. As business grew, his wife Sharon became involved. Soon the former fashion retailers had to work out how best to expand.

‘It was either employ staff or franchise. I felt that having employees wouldn’t work; we’re a service industry and the personal touch is important. Anyway, investors work harder!’

From its 1991 beginnings, the Green Acres franchise has now grown to over 300 operators. They not only mow lawns, but also offer home cleaning and car washing services. Although such rapid growth can present difficulties, Adrian says that ‘if you have the right structure, both for running the business and selecting the right people, it’s easy.’

The Green Acres structure is based on master franchisees who buy exclusive rights to a territory of perhaps 60,000 dwellings and manage a team of franchised operators to cover it The beauty of the system for the operators is that all sales and marketing is handled by head office and the 30 master franchisees.

‘Our operators are mostly ex-wage earners who aren’t accustomed to selling, So we do it for them. They just tell us how much work they want and we give it to them. There’s no reason not to succeed.

We’re a young, very relaxed company - I’m 36 - and we love the business. We’re always improving, changing with the times and the area. Green Acres is one of the best known franchises in the country now. We’re truly nationwide - we’re in places like Masterton and Kaitaia - and that’s because we’ve always striven to offer the best service around. I’d like to think this Award reflects that goal.’

Maximum Security

Service Franchise System of the Year - turnover up to $2.5 million

Adrian Butler places great emphasis on being upfront with everyone he deals with, franchisees and customers alike. ‘I tell it like it is, and I aim to have clarity in all my dealings. For instance, potential franchisees are given the phone numbers of all current franchise owners - we certainly don’t hand-pick the operators who can be contacted. Business works best when it’s open and honest.’

What Maximum Security does is simple but effective: it etches car registration numbers on to windows. Founded in Auckland by Adrian as recently as February 1994, Maximum Security already has 53 New Zealand franchisees and has successfully entered Australia.

Adrian is also a stickler for quality service. ‘In New Zealand, service to customers is often bad. But it costs nothing, and makes you stand out from the crowd. We’re proud of what we do and the way we do it - that’s why we maintain a professional image, with a well-developed and constantly improving system, uniforms and proper marketing.’

Adrian was ‘amazed and ecstatic’ at winning the Award. ‘It was a confirmation of everything I’ve been striving to do. I began by actually doing the business I have franchised. I learned the hard way in the school of knocks. It’s great to prove to those people who so kindly told me that it couldn’t possibly work that it has!’

‘It’s been an exciting time for all of us in the franchise. We know now that there’s no limit to what we can achieve.’

Pit Stop

Service Franchise System of the Year - Highly Commended

This highly visible specialist automotive servicing company began franchising in 1985, soon after being formed by the amalgamation of two North Island businesses. There are now 31 company outlets, and 25 franchises.

‘Our future lies more and more with franchising,’ says Sales and Marketing Manager William Waterworth. ‘This provides us with the means to expand the number of outlets and allow greater participation in the local community.’

Perhaps surprisingly, Pit Stop prefer husband and wife teams as franchisees. ‘Sales and marketing skills are most important, because you have to get out and be pro-active in the community. Managerial skills are useful, and mechanical aptitude helps, but since you hire expert technicians it’s not essential.’

William attributes Pit Stop’s success to the emphasis on co-operation and service. ‘Franchising is like a game of rugby. It’s your business, but you need to play by the rules. If you work together then the team wins and you get to score!’ Equally, he emphasises that it’s a two-way process. We’re very open to feedback from franchisees. It’s very important that everyone feels their voice is heard - that’s why we have a Franchise Advisory Board.’

William considers the Franchise Award to be ‘recognition of our systems and procedures. It tells potential franchisees that we have a good operation - and it should also re-assure their bank managers. Most of all, it confirms that we are a service franchise and we have the customer as our focus.’

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