Carpet Court franchise partners enjoy a firm footing to build lasting relationships
When Joe Southon started looking at three different franchise opportunities he found the choice pretty straightforward. ‘Carpet Court came up trumps by a long way,’ he says. ‘Since that time in 2008, the franchise has given my wife, Anna, and my three children a very good lifestyle with pretty good rewards. And as a bonus, many clients have become friends, too.’
Joe was in the telecommunications manufacturing industry, and reached board room level. ‘Senior management was far too political, though, so I decided to take a break from it and work for myself. I acquired some rental properties but found I’d gone from one extreme to another and just got bored. I decided to look around for an existing business so I could walk straight into cashflow, rather than starting from fresh and trying to grow it.’
Joe found two small independent carpet shops, one in Paraparaumu and the other in Levin, and bought them both. ‘However, when the global meltdown began to strike in 2008 I saw the writing on the wall, and it became clear that becoming part of a group would be a lot more advantageous than being a tiny independent with no buying power.’ That’s when Joe started investigating the options.
‘Deciding to join the Carpet Court group was pretty easy. I enjoy working in a structured environment with a proper support office and team behind me, and I like the idea of specialist departments devoted to IT, HR, Marketing and Product Development. I also know the value of a discipline of monthly reporting and KPIs. The other groups I looked at didn’t do that, or offer the same level of support, so I rebranded my stores, installed the Carpet Court systems and it has worked out very well.
‘With Carpet Court I have the buying power of a really large group plus better cost base and margins. Carpet Court refers to us as ‘franchise partners’, not ‘franchisees’, and I think that’s key. Relationships go a long way with customers, contractors and staff. If you are easy-going and create a bright atmosphere and working environment, then people want to work with you.’
With almost 60 stores, Carpet Court is New Zealand’s largest flooring retailer. ‘This gives our franchise partners big advantages of scale over all aspects of their business from buying power to exclusive supply deals, marketing to systems management,’ says Colin Jones, Head of Retail. ‘Now we are seeking suitable people to open or convert new outlets in key locations around the country.
‘Carpet Court are the leaders in both the retail residential market and the commercial office market. We have national relationships with insurance companies, group builders, retirement village operators and most other large commercial organisations. With additional stores, we expect to grow the three million square metres of floor we already cover each year, giving our franchise partners even more muscle.’
Ask Roger Faber what he did before he joined Carpet Court and he laughs. ‘I went to school! It’s the only place I’ve worked, and as I’m pushing 60 now, I think it’s going to remain that way. In 1978 I left Gisborne High School and started as an apprentice installer. A few years later I began to have knee issues following football injuries, and was advised that continuing with floor and carpet installations was not a good idea. The owner at the time offered me a post quoting and selling in the shop, which I did through until 1998 when, with another employee, Bill Harrison, we bought the business. We’ve been here ever since, though Bill has just sold his shares.’
Despite buying a business that Roger describes as ‘a very tight ship’, the new owners buckled down and managed to increase turnover by a massive 50 percent in their first year. ‘We did it by focusing on builders, chasing commercial work and increased margins, and by focusing on relationships, as Joe says. The majority of our customers buy the whole package from measuring to installing, so you need good relationships with your tradies to manage the work through.
‘Another major component of our success in a provincial centre like Gisborne has been the relationship with the community. I’ve put a lot of effort into that, and spending time at places like the fishing club getting to know builders and members has paid dividends for the business. People see you, and it grows from there as people refer you on. It may be a bit different in a big city, but it’s certainly worked for me!’
is it for you?
What do you need to succeed as a Carpet Court franchise partner? ‘You need to be a good manager and have a sales-driven focus,’ says Colin. ‘As Joe and Roger have said, you also need to be comfortable building relationships at all levels.
‘For new franchise partners, we provide design and assist in fit-out management, as well as training and initial and ongoing support. An investment of around $250,000 will be required for a brand new store, with the exact amount depending on location and fit-out.
‘If that appeals to you, Carpet Court’s highly-effective business model can offer big long-term rewards with a very attractive lifestyle. To find out more, contact me.’