An Australian Franchisee Case Study
Name Rob Lees
Location Blaxland NSW
Franchise Mortgage Choice
Why I chose franchising
My story is probably a bit different form most. I didn’t go looking for a franchise or the Mortgage Choice brand for that matter, instead it found me.
When I left my role as a Baptist Minister, the goal was to own or co-own a business in my local area. I have always enjoyed helping people so I wanted to do something that was people focused. Having formerly been an accountant, and with an interest in finance and investment, I decided to work in the area of financial services and initially chose to train as a financial planner. I was enjoying working as a financial planner and was achieving good results, when the owner of the local Mortgage Choice mortgage broking franchise, situated downstairs from my office, approached me about buying her business. I wasn’t looking to make a change at this time and at first I wasn’t interested. However, I found it hard to ‘let it go’. The more I thought about it, the more I saw myself in this role and saw it as an ideal fit for someone like me. I thought, ‘opportunities like this only come once in a lifetime’. This was a quality local business owned, operated and built by people of integrity with similar values to me. How often do opportunities like this come about? As I looked more thoroughly into the opportunity, I was also draw by the Mortgage Choice value proposition and brand. I like the fact that we get paid the same commission rate no matter which lender our clients choose. It means I can provide a service for my clients with no conflict of interest. This fits well with who I am and my desire to genuinely serve my clients’ best interests at all times. The previous owner had built a quality business and I felt, with my background, training and stage of life I could build on the foundation and take the business to the next level.
What I did before taking up a franchise
When I left school I completed an accounting degree part time and initially started working as a chartered accountant. In 1986 I became a Baptist Pastor and more recently was Senior Pastor at Glenbrook Baptist Church (1995-2007). Before purchasing my Mortgage Choice franchise, I completed Diploma of Financial Services (Financial Planning) in 2007 and commenced financial planning with AMP in the same year.
How I raised the finance
This was a challenge as the cost of an established high quality business with a large loan book was significant.
I sold investment assets including an investment property and shares, borrowed against my home and took out a business loan for the remainder of the purchase price.
The training and support I receive from my franchisor
I attended an intensive two week induction course, where I made vast inroads in my knowledge of home loans and mortgage broking as well as receiving a Certificate IV in Financial Services (Finance and Mortgage Broking). This was followed by a Rookie Development and Mentoring Program, which includes workshops and mentoring. In addition to this the franchisor – Mortgage Choice – provides valuable support and resources for marketing, IT, lending updates, benchmarking, sales training and media relations.
The challenges I have faced
In spite of having a solid finance background, there’s been a lot to learn in transitioning into a new industry: new products, new jargon (in particular, industry acronyms), new products and new networks.
The transition, however, was made a lot easier by employing the former franchise owner for the first four months of operation. Her support, knowledge and relationship with clients allowed the transition to take place without a hiccup.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how
I feel very fulfilled. It can be long hours, but I enjoy running my own business – the flexibility, the opportunities and the overall satisfaction of providing a valuable service to my clients.
My advice to someone thinking of buying their first franchise
Do your research and make sure it’s the kind of work you will enjoy. Concentrate on your strengths and work out how to obtain support in the areas where you have not yet reached your potential. Most of all, be prepared to work hard.
My plans for the future
I want to grow the business by building on the foundation of the previous owner. I plan to build the business in two key areas by:
Increasing my marketing activity throughout the region and by developing local business networks; and
Diversifying my services so clients see my business as a ‘one stop shop’ for all their financial needs. In addition to home loans I want to offer commercial and personal loans, car and equipment finance, life insurances and more.
Would you do it again?
Definitely! I’m very pleased with the move and after almost 12 months in the new business I have already increased the value of annual settlements by 20%.
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