CEO, Bruce McFarlane Facilitates The FCA (Franchise Council of Australia) Panel Breakfast, July 2023  


CEO of BDC Partners, Bruce McFarlane, facilitated the Franchise Council of Australia Victorian state chapter breakfast this week where he interviewed a panel of franchisors: Aaron Smith, founder of KX Pilates; Martin Rose, founder of Blue Wheelers and Dash Dog Wash; Kate Hopley, CEO of Spudbar and Kerri Wane, CEO of San Churro on their franchising journey.  
Did you always plan to franchise your business?  

Aaron founder of KX Pilates 

Aaron never intended on franchising his business, as when he started his Pilates journey in London he saw how not to run the business.  He fell in love with Pilates during this time though, and knew it was something he wanted to pursue back in Australia.  It was when one of his trainers asked him if they could own a franchise of the business and help him grow that he considered it as an option.  

He had one studio in 2010, with a second (company owned) in 2011.  It was after this that the begun their franchise journey by selling their first franchise in 2013.  

What contributed to your success? 

Martin founder of Blue wheelers  

Martin originally started as the master franchisor of New Zealand Natural IceCream; this allowed him to grow into his own franchise business.  His hard work, cutthroat attitude and determination have allowed him to see success in his career. In 2006 Martin acquired a mobile dog wash business which he later re-branded. 
Martin did thank all those who bought a dog during the pandemic lockdowns, as the dog population grew by around 20% during this time, and his business, Blue Wheelers, saw an immense uplift in sales throughout this period continuing on to the present day.  

Over the last 5 years, his second grooming business, Dash, has seen the most growth.  Martin created Dash to be a cheaper version of his other brand, Blue Wheelers, to catch a wider demographic of clients. This initiative allowed Blue Wheelers to remain with its original brand values and keep its upmarket status, whilst Dash could fit into a different market.  
How did you find yourself as CEO of San Churro? 
Kerri has worked in the food industry for a long time, including roles with Dominos and MadMex.   She experienced significant growth with Dominos where she worked in India growing the franchise from 30 stores to 100 stores within 12 months with a 100 store celebration at the taj mahal.  However, this is an immense growth over 1 year and it quite quickly came crumbling down with store closures and a restructure of the executive team.  

Her love for the culture, the brand and the environment at San Churro has helped with her transition into this role.  Her key to success has been building relationships early on with the office staff, the warehouse staff and the franchisees.  

She has successfully kept her network engaged, allowing franchisees to aspire for growth within San Churro.  

What challenges have you faced?  

Kate Hopley – CEO of SpudBar  

When Kate became the CEO of SpudBar she had a slim handover and her sink or swim mentality kicked in rapidly.  

“Spudbar was ten years old but it felt very much like a start up, with only 3 staff members in the office.” 
Kate had to create the strategy and systems from “scratch” to allow for franchise growth and branding. She stepped away as CEO for some time but found herself back there during the pandemic.  

Managing leasing was a huge challenge during covid, negotiating it in house became a tough challenge for the business. They closed two stores during covid – one closure was due to a rent increase during this time which they simply could not afford/ didn’t want to do.  

They were also concerned about what would happen after covid. With staff going back into stores they had to increase expenses.  

Multisite owners – do you have any parameters?  

Each panellist had a different process for their rules about multi-site owners, but it was a general rule of thumb that franchisees cannot own more than a particular percentage of the company otherwise it may become a challenge to the ability of the franchisor to make decisions in the network.  

However, on the flipside of this the experienced multi site owners can become the face of the business with the ability to help new franchisees prosper. It is also good to keep fresh faces coming into the business so it can continue to grow successfully.  

This was a truly insightful event, if you missed it check out the FCA website for the next event and be sure to come along!  

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