Interview with David Banfield, The Interface Financial Group
An Australian Franchisor Interview
Franchisors name: David Banfield
Name of franchise: The Interface Financial Group
When and how was The Interface Financial Group established? What was the motivation behind setting up the business?
The Interface franchise came into being about 20 years ago with the first unit located in Canada. At that time Interface had already been in business for over 20 years and was looking for an expansion model that did not require a massive infusion of capital or people. Franchising was the chosen model; we have grown from that one unit situation over the past two decades to our present eight country operation.
What have been The Interface Financial Group’s biggest achievements/successes to date so far?
Once we had established a solid base in North America we looked for new locations outside of the North America. Starting a pilot project in New Zealand to test the "international waters" turned out to be a great success and the driver for us to move onto Australia, Singapore, The UK, Ireland and most recently Mexico.
What challenges have you had to overcome?
We started our franchisee life in Canada at a time when regulations were very few and far between. When we made the decision to expand into the U.S. market we realised that we had to re-learn franchising all over again. The market was not only vast but very different and very fragmented in terms of regulations that differ from State to State
What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?
I suspect that we are similar to many other franchisors in that we use a variety of methods and opportunities. Certainly the print media continues to serve us well-the shelf life of a magazine is far superior to that of a five-second banner ad on a web site. However, we do recognize the value that technology adds to promotion, so we embrace lead generation programs as they become available in various formats.
What makes The Interface Financial Group stand out from the competition?
Everyone thinks they are unique-we are no different at Interface. We hold to that claim because we bring a situation to the table for our franchisees whereby they are actually working alongside us. We partner with them in transactions-something that is probably unique to Interface. We do what our franchisees do-but not in competition with them-we do it in a mode that enhances their business.
That aspect coupled with the fact that we also finance our franchisees in the art of making money with Interface, thus giving Interface franchisees the edge when it comes to creating a three digit return on their working capital.
In your opinion, what makes a successful The Interface Financial Group franchisee?
There is no mystery in the answer - its dedication and self-discipline. As with any business, those that want to succeed will succeed. A franchise is not the ‘silver bullet’ to success. The proven franchise system coupled with a dedicated and disciplined individual will always produce above-average results.
What changes have you seen in your industry over recent years? And how have you adapted to them?
Technology has enabled candidates to do much more research on their own, and we see individuals coming to us now that are very well informed. We believe it is a positive situation, and we continue to embrace new communication opportunities as they arise.
What is the future of The Interface Financial Group in Australia?
We see ourselves as very young in terms of the Australian market and as such we believe we have a great opportunity ahead of us. There continues to be a large pool of well-qualified individuals that recognise the opportunity that we offer alongside an under-serviced client marketplace. The banks are continuing their reluctance to fund small business and, therefore, all indications point to our continued growth.
What expansion plans have you got nationally and internationally?
Certainly we see good growth opportunities here in Australia and we propose to take advantage of them over the coming months. Likewise there are also good situations arising to enhance our already growing international market. We anticipate growth, both at home and internationally over the next few years.
What advice would you give to someone considering franchising their business?
Firstly make sure it will franchise. Then make sure that you as a franchisor you can bring a solid documented history in your chosen business together with a strong regime of service.
If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?
I would have gone faster!
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