An Australian Franchisee Case Study
Franchisee: Lee Harvison
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Franchise: IFG 50/50
Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your franchise?
At University I studied and obtained a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. On such a course you read and hear a lot of real-life case studies of aspiring entrepreneurs who had the ‘next big idea’ and gambled everything on making it happen without necessarily having the skills and experience to be successful. I learned that it can be very satisfying – and much less risky – to take a proven business and benefit from past experience.
This led me to look at existing businesses and franchises. I also learned that the business model, i.e. how you make your money is very important – will your level of income be based on how many hours you work for example? So the IFG model of having ‘your money work for you’ was very appealing.
What did you do before taking up a franchise?
I was a Programme Manager working in the IT industry. I worked with large clients and higher education providers to assist them with their organisational changes as they advanced their telecommunication systems.
How did you raise the finance?
I used my own finances – the IFG 50/50 franchise is very inexpensive to start up.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
I attended formal training in Sydney for 2 days, followed by 2 days of ‘in-field’ training here in Melbourne. Each franchisee has a 90-day coaching programme to follow upon commencement, and a number of contacts to call upon as needed. There have been many follow-up training opportunities since then, covering the tools and systems we use. Each franchisee can obtain support from head office at any time.
What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
I am also now a member of the IFG management team here in Australia, so my time is divided between my franchisee role and supporting the central function. However the primary role of a franchisee – and the main-time requirement – is to build a network of referral partners. This usually means inviting potential referrers to meet up for coffee to explain our product, and how it can work for their clients.
What challenges have you faced?
Entering the world of finance was a challenge. Like all industries, it has its own language and our product is still a very new concept here in Australia. Because we service most industries, it also helps to understand the main characteristics of companies in each industry. What looks like a strong profit for a company in manufacturing is not necessarily the same in a service-based company for example.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
It has enabled me to step outside of the corporate world and take control over my working life to a much larger degree. With this has come much more flexibility to enable me to spend time with my family – which was a major goal.
What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?
Our main promotion comes through referral partners. We do not do any cold calling or direct marketing to clients. Ours is a product best suited to introductions.
What differentiates your franchise from the competition?
Our product is extremely flexible and very price competitive compared to any factoring product on the market. We have very fast application and approval processes – it generally takes us a few days to process an application vs. weeks or even months for competitors. We specialise in finance for construction invoices, which most other financiers are unable to provide. And because IFG operates in 8 other countries, we can finance clients whose invoices have been issued to customers in any of those other countries.
In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?
– It is best suited for someone who is eager to learn, who will trust the franchise system they have purchased and won’t try to ‘bend the rules’, yet offer constructive suggestions for improvement – someone who will be consistent and determined, and not give up at the first signs of adversity.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Think carefully about how you want to spend your time. Don’t chase the big dollars if you’ll be doing something you don’t enjoy. Make sure you know as much as possible about your costs and other obligations to your franchisor. Try to satisfy yourself that you are getting a fair deal within the franchise, and that your franchisor treats their franchisees ethically.
What are your plans for the future?
IFG is entering a very exciting phase, and I am looking forward to being part of it.
Would you do it again?
I can’t imagine not having done it.
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Interface Financial Group 50/50 franchise