An Australian Franchisee Case Study
Name: Monica van Riet
Location: Stonnington/Port Melbourne
Franchise: Mortgage Choice
Why I chose franchising and Mortgage Choice
I chose to invest in a franchise as I felt more comfortable starting my own business with the support of an already proven business model, well known brand, and fabulous internal support network. The Mortgage Choice brand was a no-brainer for me as they are a publicly listed company that pays its franchisees the same commission rate for the home loans they write regardless of lender and loan product chosen by a new customer, and the brand is very well recognised by the majority of Australians.
What I did before taking up my franchise
Before purchasing my franchise, I worked in the travel industry as a Regional Operations Manager in London for FCm Travel Solutions, a wholly owned division of Flight Centre Limited. I had a team of 120 staff in my remit, split into 25 teams. I therefore had vast experience in customer service and management of people and businesses on a global scale.
I had been investing in property personally in both Australia and the UK since 2002. Property investment is something I’m extremely passionate about, and is something I wanted to pursue further when I returned to Australia.
After a lot of thought and research, and brief stint back in the travel industry in Melbourne, I decided that I had to be my own boss and it must be related to property but I didn’t want to be an estate agent! So, I decided to become a mortgage broker. Based on my own personal experiences of buying properties across the globe, I thought I could really add value to this industry and help people through what can be a very daunting life experience.
How I raised the finance
I took out a line of credit against one of my Australian investment properties. I purchased a ‘greenfield’ franchise, so the fees were quite reasonable.
The training and support I receive from Mortgage Choice
The training and support from Mortgage Choice group and state office staff has been brilliant. I cannot speak highly enough of everyone I have come into contact with. Everybody wants to help me and they always respond very quickly with answers to my questions.
The level of support and training the state office dedicate to ‘rookie’ (newcomer) franchisees is also very good. To make sure franchisees have every chance of success, they go out of their way with training sessions, one to one meetings, office visits, etc.
They have also provided me with a mentor for 12 months, who is there to call on for professional mortgage broking and well as small business advice. They are a great sounding board to bounce ideas off.
In the beginning I found it quite overwhelming taking on a lot of new information. However, the different learning structures and support have enabled me to focus on one lender at a time so I can learn their niche product markets and better service my customers’ needs.
The challenges I have faced
The changes in the lending industry have been some of the toughest challenges for me. I was very good at what I did before, but now I’ve come into an industry that I haven’t worked in before and I’ve basically had to learn everything.
The best thing is Mortgage Choice provides all the support I need. I attend as many training sessions and meet with as many existing franchisees as possible. There is a great network of people around me that I always have the ability to speak to if I need to, which I do.
I’ve also found that the last few months have become quite tough in the property market, and that there are not as many people on the property hunt. The market itself has been a real challenge. I’ve focused on getting out there and networking with as many businesses as I can and also on doing as many marketing activities as my budget permits to promote my business and profile in my local marketing area.
Working from a home office also has its challenges. I have two cats who love to walk on my keyboard! I’m a very motivated and driven person. However, I have found that I would like to separate work and home life, so I’ve decided to lease office space with one of my business alliance partners. This will also raise the profile of my franchise among my local business community and allow me to see clients at my office, instead of always at their home.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how
I love the independence! I am still quite new but I’m really starting to find my feet now, and enjoy what I’m doing. I have absolutely no regrets in my decision to become a franchisee. I look forward to receiving the fruits of my labour over the coming years. I love walking away from a customer meeting knowing I’ve been able to help educate someone so that they may one day fulfil their dreams.
My advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise
It really should be in an industry that you are passionate about so your excitement carries through to your customers.
It is a big step to start your own franchise. You need to mentally and emotionally commit yourself to the challenge, be motivated and willing to do whatever it takes, and have the full support from your friends and family.
Ensure you look at all of the franchise options available for that market/industry. Compare their level of franchisor support and commitment to you, their fees the competitive advantage of one franchisor over another. Make sure you seek independent legal and financial advice as well.
You need to ensure you have adequate capital available to see you through the start up phase. In my case this was the first 12-24 months.
My plans for the future
I’m focussing on building my referral partners and networks at the moment. I’m finding a lot of value in building contacts through social media networking.
Within six months I would like to have grown the business to be large enough to warrant employing an administration person. Following this goal I would like to add another loan writer to the business within the next 12-24 months, to enable me to take time out of the business so I can work on growing the business.
I plan to grow my business over the next 15 years to have a substantial loan book, and then take up the option of the Mortgage Choice retirement plan, which will allow me to retire at 47 and have my loan book pay me trail commission until it runs off.
Would you do it again?
Absolutely, without any doubt. However, I would have considered working in the industry as an employee first, to gain that much needed industry knowledge that is ever so important. Thankfully I chose a franchise that offered me the technical support I needed. As a result I’ve been able to increase my knowledge base quicker than I ever expected.
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