Inside Franchise Business - - Leadership -

Alove of pets, gar­den­ing and real es­tate has proved to be the per­fect foun­da­tion for Ben Fidden’s new busi­ness

The for­mer train­ing man­ager had spent 10 years in the field of learn­ing de­vel­op­ment and was ready to move away from hours locked in front of his com­puter. Ben was keen to get out of the of­fice and into his own busi­ness.

The so­lu­tion turned out to be buy­ing a fran­chise in the My Home Watch net­work.

“I al­ways wanted to jump into my own busi­ness, but I didn’t know what to do, and with the cap­i­tal re­quired and the mar­ket­ing, it wasn’t fea­si­ble,” he ex­plains.

Ben came across My Home Watch af­ter a hol­i­day ab­sence that left his cat highly stressed. He im­me­di­ately looked for an al­ter­na­tive to leav­ing his pet at a friend’s house, and came across My Home Watch through a Google search. At that point though, the penny hadn’t dropped that this could be a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity.

Then he saw an ad for the brand on the fran­chise­busi­ web­site.

“I’d gone there look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties, and when I saw it I was start­ing to get fa­mil­iar with the brand.

It is unique. I could see it be­ing of value and it also al­lowed me to do what I love do­ing. The do­mes­tic side of prop­erty man­age­ment was the kind of busi­ness I re­ally wanted to get into and with a fran­chise, the brand­ing and legal work was al­ready done.”

Get­ting into busi­ness wasn’t a fast process, he says. It took a lot of con­sid­er­a­tion and due dili­gence to as­sess the risk, over about 10 weeks.

“For the first cou­ple of months I set up ser­vic­ing cus­tomer leads, I was a bit ner­vous, be­cause with any­thing in busi­ness there’s a risk. Now I’m eight months into it, it’s worked re­ally well and I’m re­ally happy with how it’s go­ing.”

Stan­dard busi­ness hours had been Ben’s rou­tine in his pre­vi­ous of­fice-based roles. Now he might be work­ing at 6 am and com­plet­ing a job at 7 pm be­fore do­ing ad­min with his part­ner. But he can be flex­i­ble about his hours and has more op­por­tu­nity to fit in personal events.

“Now it’s more flex­i­ble, I can work around ap­point­ments,” says Ben. “I’m not sit­ting in front of a com­puter all day long. You’re do­ing it for your­self.”

In ad­di­tion to the wel­come break from an of­fice en­vi­ron­ment the daily work­load can be very var­ied, from feed­ing a cat or dog to a 90-minute prepa­ra­tion for a prop­erty in­spec­tion.

“It’s not bor­ing. I’m on my feet and I get to see some amaz­ing prop­er­ties.”

Ben has a non-ex­clu­sive ter­ri­tory that spans the salu­bri­ous har­bour­side eastern sub­urbs in Syd­ney, from Dar­ling Point to Bondi Beach. On­line mar­ket­ing is a strong source of leads but other busi­ness own­ers, char­ity events and an­i­mal shel­ters can all de­liver new clients. Cus­tomers also ap­proach Ben di­rectly.

His three-year plan is to ex­pand the team and take on ex­tra clients’ work through lo­cal busi­nesses.

“It’s lived up to ex­pec­ta­tions. A lot of my friends and fam­ily were ex­pect­ing me to jump into thou­sands of clients but we knew how much rep­u­ta­tion you re­ally need to get into the lo­cal area and brand your­self there. It’s all go­ing well.

“I think the great thing is, although it sounds con­tra­dic­tory, it’s niche be­cause we of­fer a wide range of ser­vices. We can pop in on a client on the same con­tract and do a range of dif­fer­ent things while we’re there.

“What stands out is it is a chal­lenge, and that’s why I wanted to have my own busi­ness. It’s very dif­fer­ent to most ca­reers. You can choose how to do it, and it’s very re­ward­ing.”

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