FEELING MORE AT HOME
A smoother ride now for a couple who made the shift.
It’s a smoother ride now for a young couple who gave up the fly-in/ fly-out employment “prison camp” lifestyle for the benefits of running their own franchise.
The fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) life is not easy, and despite Justin van Camp and his wife Debbie having a joint income of $400,000, he likens the work to “being in a prison camp for two weeks at a time”.
Their working life saw them sharing the same two-week work roster, but at different mining sites (BHP and Rio Tinto), with a week at home together. But after Debbie became pregnant, it was time for a change.
“I wanted to quit being in FIFO because we were looking to start a family and wanted a business we could do together,” says Debbie.
The lifestyle change has been significant for the couple as they can now be home every night as their daughter grows up.
“The decision to choose a Bridgestone franchise was easy,” says Debbie. “Justin knew all about the brand from his experiences as a mechanic, and he figured there is always a demand for tyres and servicing.
“He leaves home around 6.30 every morning to beat the traffic and make sure he gets to the store early to do some admin stuff and make sure everything is sorted for the day.”
Debbie has a full-time job but supports her husband with accounts, and the couple believes there are many benefits in being backed by a brand like Bridgestone.
“They were with us the whole first week, helping and supporting us, and they’ve been just a phone call away ever since,” says Debbie.
Justin says the benefit of the industry is a “no brainer”.
“You could probably guarantee that almost every household in Australia is going to have 1.5 cars,” he says. “Every car is going to need servicing and new tyres.”
Although this is his first business, he says franchising was an easy choice. He values the support of the franchisor most, especially when it comes to accessibility.
“If you need help, they’re there to help - and they do help.”
BOOTS AND ALL
Justin bought a new Western Australia site, Victoria Park. He says that finding the right site was luck and a matter of “being at the right place at the right time with the right attitude”.
H e s ays the site’s previous u se a s an Ultra Tune outlet was beneficial as the client base was already there. Former Ultra Tune customers would come in and still be able to have their cars serviced.
While he also gets along well with the franchise development manager, he admits that running a business is not always easy.
“Straight off the bat we were running,” he says. “I still put in a lot of hours into the business, but when it’s yours, it’s your baby...”
W hen h e s tarted o ut, v an C amp w as working 10-hour days, six days a week. “I’ve never worked so hard in my life,” he says. Now, almost two years later, he is clocking eight and a half hours a day each week.
“If you’re going to do it, you need to have a goal. I tend to jump into things boots and all. If you don’t do it, you’re
never going to know.”
H e a dmits t here w as m uch t o l earn a t t he start. He and Debbie refinanced some of their properties to cover the initial investment cost.
A major challenge is that van Camp is still yet to find a staff member who can deliver up to his standard. He says it is important to maintain customer expectations, and he does like things being done a certain way.
“I need to know everything about my business,” he says. “Don’t become mates with your staff members - you need to be careful: there is a line. At the end of the day, you are their employer and it can be hard to put your foot down later.
“Try t o a void e mploying y our f riends, a nd do not go into business with your family. It can complicate relationships.”
And his goals for the business?
“I reckon three sites would be pretty good,” he says. “With every store now having to be opened as a Bridgestone Select, which includes a full range of automotive servicing, not just tyres, it would be difficult without an automotive background.”
His advice for potential buyers: “Be prepared to work hard, as you only get out what you put in. However, it is incredibly rewarding.
“It has given us the independence to work the way we want to work. We’re doing something for ourselves instead of working for someone else.
“Don’t b uy a b usiness j ust b ecause y ou want one, do it because you have a passion,” he advises.
Don’t buy a business just because you want one, do it because you
have a passion.