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Smartline wins franchisee award for third year in a row

Monday, 9 May 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
The 2011 Topfranchise Awards have revealed Smartline Personal Mortgage Advisors as Australia’s top franchise system, as support mechanisms emerge as a key priority for franchisees.

 

According to the latest survey from Topfranchise.com.au and marketing intelligence company 10 Thousand Feet, based on franchisee satisfaction, Smartline has maintained its position as the number one franchise for the third consecutive year.

 

Smartline chief executive Chris Acret says this is a result of the “positive team culture” at play within the franchise.

 

Rounding out the top 10 are Mister Minit, Mortgage Choice, Mr Rental and Mrs Fields, while newcomers include print and design company Kwik Kopy and gym franchise Anytime Fitness.

 

Kwik Kopy was established in Australia in 1982 and now has more than 100 outlets, while Anytime Fitness has grown to 70 locations in just three years.

 

Justin McDonell, chief executive of Anytime Fitness, says franchisees must “live and breathe” health and fitness to ensure their passion filters through to customers.

 

“The other significant element for us is about having a turnkey business that requires less staff and so less management than a traditional gym,” McDonald says.

 

Ian Krawitz, head of intelligence at Topfranchise.com.au, says while Anytime Fitness premises are open at all hours, they are manned by security cameras afterhours rather than staff.

 

Krawitz says Anytime Fitness is viewed favourable from a lifestyle perspective, and says finding a work/life balance is becoming increasingly important to franchisees.

 

“For example, [coffee franchise] Xpresso Delight was in the top 10 in the lifestyle category because most franchisees only work between 10 and 20 hours a week,” he says.

 

Meanwhile, Krawitz says Kwik Kopy’s success can be attributed in part to its high level of IT support, with Krawitz stating this is particularly attractive to baby boomers looking to enter into a franchise.

 

“Kwik Kopy recognises that a lot of franchisors will be boomers. They’re an attractive talent pool because they have the capital and the contacts to successfully run a print business,” he says.

 

“Kwik Kopy puts a lot of money into IT support to help boomers cope with it because often they’re not using it to the best of its capacity.”

 

Krawtiz says Generation Y is also looked upon as an attractive talent pool, with more franchisors providing incentives such as finance as a key recruitment strategy.

 

“Gen Y is often constrained by financing, which is why [automotive tools franchise] Snap-on Tools can now finance people without needing the banks. You also don’t have to make any repayments in the first phase of the business,” he says.

 

“Mr Minit is also very friendly to Gen Y because there’s no outlay for a franchise fee or store fit-out – just stock.”

 

Interestingly, only one of the franchises listed in top 10 – Mrs Fields – operates in the food retail sector.

 

According to Krawitz, food franchises are typically more susceptible to softer trading conditions, which can often benefit finance-related systems such as Smartline, Mortgage Choice and Mr Rental as consumers become more cautious about their spending and investments.

 

He is also seeing an increase in vendor-style businesses, which require minimal attention and can therefore be pursued on the side of the franchisee’s full-time occupation.