BEAT­ING THE BURNOUT

Inside Franchise Business - - Contents -

Hire A Hubby has found a way to help fran­chisees man­age their suc­cess.

Too many clients and too many jobs might sound like a good prob­lem to have, but for fran­chisees who want a work/life bal­ance, long hours can lead to mis­takes, which can lead to even­tual burnout. Such can be the price of suc­cess. What can be done? Bren­dan Green, CEO of handy­man fran­chise Hire A Hubby, de­cided the is­sue had to be tack­led. “Fran­chisees have be­come vic­tims of their own suc­cess,” he ex­plains.

With that in mind, he be­gan the task of recre­at­ing the busi­ness to pro­vide a sup­port struc­ture with sys­tems easy enough for hard-work­ing fran­chisees to adopt. “It starts with a mind­set, com­ing up with some sim­ple terms that res­onate with the guys.”

He told fran­chisees, “You haven’t looked at your busi­ness plan since you started be­cause you’re too busy, so you’re work­ing with­out clear goals and there are no re­wards.”

His sug­ges­tion is that fran­chisees start by ask­ing them­selves some sim­ple ques­tions: How many days do you want to work? Where do you want to go on hol­i­day? What will it cost, and who will run your busi­ness while you are away?

He pro­vides a break-even doc­u­ment to which fran­chisees can add their ex­penses and work out how much they need to make each day, each hour.

Hire A Hubby boss Bren­dan Green has found a way to save his

fran­chisees from be­com­ing vic­tims of their own suc­cess.

MIND FLIP

Will the busi­ness be run by the fran­chisee? The “slow or grow” choice is in the hands of the fran­chisee. One an­swer Green has in­tro­duced is the “you and two” op­tion – a fran­chisee can run the busi­ness and have two staff mem­bers do the grunt work.

De­vel­op­ing the busi­ness with ex­tra staff

en­tails a mind flip as well, as fran­chisees need to recog­nise they are no longer the cen­tral point or cru­cial fac­tor in the busi­ness. This change needs to be con­veyed to cus­tomers, says Green, so they un­der­stand what will hap­pen and why a new face turns up to do the job for which the fran­chisee has quoted. “It’s about ex­plain­ing to the cus­tomer that you will be send­ing them your best painter or best car­pen­ter to do the job.”

Fran­chisees are not pushed into be­ing more am­bi­tious, he says, but those who do not choose to ex­pand need to be re­al­is­tic. “If a fran­chisee doesn’t want to change, there’s no need. They should just stay ro­bust in their de­ci­sions about how much work to take on.

“Our goal is to help our fran­chisees main­tain a work/life bal­ance, and to this end we have them iden­tify a fi­nan­cial tar­get mea­sured in gross-profit terms. To help them main­tain the work/life bal­ance, we help them un­der­stand their two most im­por­tant op­er­a­tional KPIs, which are their ‘lead to quote’ con­ver­sion rate and their ‘quote to in­voice’ con­ver­sion rate.”

This has been af­fected by one of the ma­jor changes in the 20 years in which Green has headed up Hire A Hubby – the cul­tural shift to in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion.

“There was a time when you could call back a client the next day, but since the ad­vent of the smart­phone peo­ple want im­me­di­ate feed­back, and there’s a will­ing­ness to shop around. We’ve had po­ten­tial clients call at 9am, then at 9.15 ring back to ask why they haven’t heard from any­one.

“We were al­ways able to man­age the leads to quotes and quote to in­voices, we’ve just had to im­prove the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.”

MORE EF­FI­CIENT

Green has im­ple­mented mi­nor changes to the job al­lo­ca­tion process, re­sult­ing in a 90 per cent drop in cus­tomer fol­low-up calls. A mes­sage sys­tem pro­vides re­as­sur­ance to the time-con­scious cus­tomer that they are in good hands.

“This sim­ple process of adding a mes­sage to our cus­tomer ad­vis­ing the name and num­ber of our fran­chisee that has ac­cepted their job gives the cus­tomer peace of mind that their re­quest had been ac­knowl­edged,” he says.

There have been other ad­just­ments. Tack­ling chal­lenges that af­fect a quar­ter of the mar­ket was the fo­cus of fran­chisor/ fran­chisee meet­ings at­tended by the com­pany’s 15 best fran­chisees (five in each state) to im­prove the per­for­mance of fran­chisees earn­ing $400,000 to $500,000.

“If busi­ness isn’t im­prov­ing and fran­chisees ask for ad­vice, it will al­ways be the same. It’s tough love,” says Green. “Fol­low best prac­tice – there’s only one way, not 14 ver­sions. We want to in­flu­ence them by ev­i­dence of suc­cess.”

Fran­chisees now have a choice of out­sourc­ing their ad­min tasks. Af­ter vis­it­ing a cus­tomer and iden­ti­fy­ing the job re­quire­ments, the fran­chisee can voice record the de­tails of the quote and send them to an ad­min­is­tra­tor who can then do any or all of these tasks: work al­lo­ca­tion, job con­fir­ma­tion, in­voic­ing, sched­ul­ing and re­ceiv­ing.

Green says the im­proved process is see­ing cus­tomer ser­vice “go through the roof”.

An­other change is the re­moval of dou­ble data en­try. With fran­chisees us­ing the linked Sales­force and Xero pro­grams, there is 93 per cent com­pli­ance and more ef­fi­ciency.

Of course it is eas­ier for in­com­ing fran­chisees to be trained in the method­ol­ogy, but long­stand­ing fran­chisees have, over time, taken on the new sys­tems.

TWO DECADES OF CHANGE

It is a long way from the days when Green started out in the busi­ness 20 years ago. “Hire A Hubby is a mo­bile ser­vice, but now fran­chisees have ware­houses, of­fices with ad­min staff, work­shops for paint­ing off site or as­sem­bling fur­ni­ture, and three or four guys and ve­hi­cles.”

Hire A Hubby now at­tracts peo­ple rang­ing from pas­try chefs to po­lice of­fi­cers. One fran­chisee who spent 29 years work­ing for Wool­worths is now bring­ing in $1.1 mil­lion, says Green.

“We in­tro­duced an in­come guar­an­tee in 2007, of $100,000 for the first year. This at­tracted guys in mid-man­age­ment. It’s now changed to high-cal­i­bre pro­fes­sion­als choos­ing the ‘you and two’ op­tion; they can use their busi­ness skills and run it as a white-col­lar busi­ness.”

A new ini­tia­tive is to link with man­u­fac­tur­ers and in­stall their prod­ucts, such as gar­den sheds. The fran­chise has a strong re­la­tion­ship with Bun­nings, and has just set up its UK head of­fice in new premises in Mil­ton Keynes, near London. “Bun­nings has just es­tab­lished it­self over there. From a cost per­spec­tive, it’s a good lo­ca­tion,” says Green.

A de­ci­sion to re­move the for­mer man­age­ment team saw fran­chisees re­duced from eight to six in the UK. Since then the busi­ness has been build­ing up its fran­chise port­fo­lio, and by the end of Septem­ber had 17 fran­chisees.

But there is still plenty of growth to come in Aus­tralia, with ca­pac­ity for an­other 40 or 50 fran­chises, says Green.

Fol­low best prac­tice – there’s only one way,

not 14 ver­sions.

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