DO­ING HER HOME­WORK

Inside Franchise Business - - Contents -

How a hol­i­day led to the My Home Watch busi­ness.

Of­ten, the best ideas come from an “aha” mo­ment. That was the case for Natasha Mor­gan when she was or­gan­is­ing her first fam­ily hol­i­day and wanted some­one to check on her house while she was away. Busy rel­a­tives were a half-hour drive away, and she was strug­gling to find a re­li­able al­ter­na­tive.

Af­ter a lit­tle re­search, Mor­gan dis­cov­ered the home-watch in­dus­try in Canada and the US. Six months later, she launched My Home Watch. An­other seven months down the track, she was named a sil­ver award win­ner in the Big Idea cat­e­gory of this year’s AusMumpreneur awards.

Mor­gan says the ac­co­lade has boosted both the com­pany’s cred­i­bil­ity and its brand­ing. The judg­ing cov­ered all as­pects of the busi­ness: con­cept, growth, fund­ing and devel­op­ment.

Ob­vi­ously as a big idea, it needs to be scaleable, and the judges were also in­ter­ested in how the fi­nal­ists jug­gle their moth­er­hood du­ties with their busi­ness. “It comes down to your val­ues, and how you make it work,” says Mor­gan.

While her busi­ness is flex­i­ble enough to cope, about 80 per cent of her fran­chise in­quiries so far have been from men. They in­clude se­niors bored with re­tire­ment, tradies or hair­dressers look­ing for less phys­i­cally de­mand­ing work, and peo­ple who have been made re­dun­dant.

The premise is sim­ple: ab­sent home­own­ers can em­ploy My Home Watch fran­chisees to un­der­take myr­iad tasks, each a sep­a­rately billed ac­tiv­ity. Most pop­u­lar are home checks, mail and bin ser­vices, gar­den wa­ter­ing and pet care.

CAN UPSELL

Mor­gan says 80 per cent of in­quiries come from pet own­ers, and with a va­ri­ety of op­tions avail­able fran­chisees have the op­por­tu­nity to upsell.

In a link with tech com­pany Net­gear, My Home Watch also of­fers se­cu­rity cam­eras for hire for up to three weeks as an ex­tra level of re­as­sur­ance for clients.

Of course, fran­chisees need above all else to be trust­wor­thy, and need to un­dergo po­lice checks and gain a se­cu­rity in­stal­la­tion li­cence. Mor­gan says her wish list in­cludes traits such as lik­ing pets and be­ing able to work with home­own­ers and real-es­tate agents.

She sees the agents as a po­ten­tial source of rev­enue and is con­sid­er­ing in­tro­duc­ing a loy­alty pro­gram en­cour­ag­ing their sup­port.

Mor­gan knows from ex­pe­ri­ence what is en­tailed in look­ing af­ter prop­er­ties as in a for­mer ca­reer she cared for homes worth $15 mil­lion for a prom­i­nent high­net-worth fam­ily.

To help fran­chisees in one of the 120 ter­ri­to­ries avail­able, there is no fran­chise fee for the first six months. As their busi­ness grows, fran­chisees can em­ploy one staff mem­ber, then have the chance to split ter­ri­to­ries for fur­ther ex­pan­sion.

Mean­while, Mor­gan did find a house sit­ter for that fam­ily hol­i­day. “But it wasn’t a great ex­pe­ri­ence,” she says, “be­cause we found out that they stayed at the house only twice in the whole three weeks we were away. So very un­re­li­able. We were re­ally dis­ap­pointed when we found out.”

My Home Watch has exclusive rights to a re­port­ing soft­ware sys­tem (in Aus­tralian and New Zealand) which pro­vides geo home re­ports that prove fran­chisees are ser­vic­ing the homes and home­own­ers pet needs.

“That is where the pro­fes­sional ser­vice op­tion is fan­tas­tic – it to­tally al­le­vi­ates the stress.”

Un­able to find a ser­vice that could keep an eye on her house while she was away, Natasha Mor­gan started re­search­ing and found a mar­ket niche she is now fill­ing with her new fran­chise busi­ness, which

has been quick to win recog­ni­tion. Her wish list in­cludes traits such as lik­ing pets and be­ing able to work with home­own­ers and real-es­tate agents.

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