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Interview with Julian Collins, Mortgage Choice, Toowoomba

An Australian Franchisee Case Study


Name: Julian Collins
Location: Toowoomba
Franchise: Mortgage Choice

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose Mortgage Choice franchise?
There were a couple of reasons why I joined Mortgage Choice. Firstly, being a bank manager for 10 years, I often struggled to find the right loan to suit my clients’ needs from my limited pool of options. Being a mortgage broker with Mortgage Choice, I have access to hundreds of products from our panel of 28 lenders, which means I am always able to find a loan that is most suited to my clients’ needs.

Secondly, owning my own franchise allows me to be the manager of my own destiny. Thirdly, I have always liked the Mortgage Choice franchise network. The level of camaraderie amongst the network is simply sensational and not something I have seen anywhere else. Further, I have always preferred to join a franchise network rather than operate an independent model because a franchise model offers additional support as well as advice and help around marketing, IT and compliance to name but a few.

What did you do before taking up your Mortgage Choice franchise?
Prior to joining Mortgage Choice, I was a bank manager in Toowoomba for more than 10 years.

During my time at the bank, it became clear that individual lenders simply didn’t have the range of products needed to cater to the unique demands of all clients. As a mortgage broker, I am able to ensure all of my clients are put in the right product for their needs, as I have access to hundreds of home loans from my panel of 28 lenders.

How did you raise the finance?
I applied for vendor financing and redrew money from my mortgage in order to raise the finance needed to fund the purchase and initial growth of my franchise.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
One of the reasons I joined the Mortgage Choice franchise network is because I knew I would receive a lot of initial and ongoing support from my franchisor. When I first started at Mortgage Choice I received a lot of support and training.

In the first instance, the outgoing franchisee who I bought the franchise off stayed on for a prolonged period of time to help me get used to the business and find my feet in the new role.

In addition, I received ongoing support and training from the Brisbane state office and went through an induction training course at Mortgage Choice’s national office in Sydney.

As part of induction, you learn, over the course of several weeks, how to be a successful mortgage broker – from booking and conducting customer appointments to prospecting for customers and delivering a service that is second to none.

As part of our ongoing training, Mortgage Choice hosts a national conference as well as two state-based conferences each year. Further, Mortgage Choice makes various training programs readily available and is constantly hosting informative and educational webinars that we can partake in.

What is a typical day for you as a Mortgage Choice franchisee?
The good thing about my job is that every day is different. As a franchise owner, you do a lot more than write home loans. You problem solve, manage staff and customer expectations, market your business to local community and build referral relationships with other local professionals.

Every day is a new challenge – you are required to think outside of the square and develop new skills. That said, I love a challenge, so I find the role refreshing and engaging.

Of course, if I were to explain what a typical day would look like, it would go a little something like this:

  • 8:30am: I am in the office by 8:30am and usually kick my morning off with a couple of customer appointments. On any given day I conduct between four and six customer appointments – these appointments can be back to back or spaced out throughout the day.
  • 12:30pm: Before and after each appointment, I do a lot of research. I research the customer’s needs and find out which lender has the appetite for their particular deal. I truly believe to be successful in this profession preparation is key. If I know what I am getting myself in for and what the deal will require before I even meet with the customer, I can ensure my customer appointments run smoothly and efficiently. Further, I owe it to my customers to be well prepared, as I want their service experience to be second to none.
  • 2:30pm: I like to spend my afternoons – so long as I don’t have any other pressing appointments – prospecting for customers and interacting with my referral partners. In this industry, good relationships are everything. It pays to have good relationships with your customers, your referral partners and the lenders. The better your relationships, the better your business will be.
  • 5:30pm: Being an owner-operated franchise, I am not only solely responsible for writing every loan, but I am also responsible for the ongoing successful management of the business. As the franchisee, I am in charge of everything from employee engagement to organising the accounts and payroll.

What challenges have you faced?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced during my time at Mortgage Choice is learning how to run and operate a successful small business. Having worked as a bank manager previously, I understood how to write loans and conduct customer appointments. What I didn’t know was how to manage and run a small business smoothly. Going from an employee to an employer was a challenging transition, but a transition I have thoroughly enjoyed.

To be a successful small business owner, you need to be multi-talented and be incredibly entrepreneurial.

As a franchisee I receive continuous support across all areas of the business from my franchisor. As such, if I ever felt out of my depth or needed some assistance, I knew I always had a shoulder to lean on.

Has becoming a Mortgage Choice franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Absolutely. Becoming a franchisee has challenged me both as a person and as a professional. Transitioning from bank manager to franchisee and primary loan writer was difficult – all of a sudden I had to do more than write home loans.

Becoming a franchisee has allowed me to extend my core skill set and let me try my hand at things I would never have otherwise had the chance to do.

While the transition has been difficult, it has been incredibly rewarding. Being a Mortgage Choice franchisee allows me to take control of my own financial destiny. It also allows me to set my own hours.

While I no doubt work harder and more hours than I did in my previous role, I definitely feel happier and more fulfilled.

What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?
Since buying the Mortgage Choice franchise in Toowoomba last year, I have employed a number of marketing tools in a bid to grow my presence and footprint in the local area, including:

  • Written editorial for the local newspaper: When I first started, I engaged the local newspaper to see how I could be of assistance and since that time, I have had a number of articles published. This editorials have helped to establish myself as a professional and promote my business within the local area
  • Advertised in the local paper: In addition to contributing editorial, I thought it was prudent to advertise in the local paper. The advertisements have helped me to grow my presence and my brand in the local market.

What differentiates your franchise from the competition?
I believe there a number of things that differentiate Mortgage Choice franchisees from the competition, including:

  • Paid the same – at Mortgage Choice, all brokers are paid the same commission, regardless of which lender a customer chooses. As such, customers can rest assured that they are getting the right advice for their needs – both now and into the future
  • Wide choice of lenders – at Mortgage Choice, we have 28 lenders on our panel, which is one of the biggest lending panels in the industry. Further, we offer our customers greater choice than if they were to go directly to a bank
  • Non-institutionally aligned – Mortgage Choice is not owned by any of Australia’s lenders, unlike the majority of the competition
  • Franchisees all work together – all of Mortgage Choice franchisees and loan writers are happy to share their experiences and expertise with the rest of the network. We all share and share alike – we are not secretive or competitive with one another. Instead, we offer support in order to help our fellow franchisees grow their businesses
  • Customer centric – at Mortgage Choice, the customer is at the heart of everything we do, because what matters to them, matters to us. We want to help all Australians live a life of abundance.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
To be a successful franchisee, you have to know your job inside and out. You have to stay up-to-date on all the latest information and be across all of the lenders and their products.

In addition, you have to be able to provide a customer service experience that is second to none.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
I would tell any new franchisees to make sure they put in a lot of effort. As a franchisee, the more effort you put in, the more you will get out of the business.
It is also important for franchisees to have the knowledge needed to run a business and the confidence to back themselves.

What are your plans for the future?
I will continue to work hard and help as many Australians as possible achieve their dreams of home ownership.

I want to help my customers live a life of abundance and I will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens.

Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat. As a franchisee, the support you receive from the franchisor is really second to none.

For further information on the Mortgage Choice franchise opportunity click here