Energy Saving Centre
new franchisees BURSTING WITH ENERGY
by Energy Saving Centre, last updated on 2nd July 2012
Energy Saving Centre’s new franchisees are ready for blast-off
In the last issue of Franchise New Zealand, Steve Sutherland and his wife Monique featured as the new franchisees for Energy Saving Centre. The former panel beater told us why the business, which specialises in supplying unique double glazing solutions along with other energy-saving products, appealed so much. Three months later, we asked him how he had found the experience so far. Steve takes a deep breath, then grins.
‘It’s been mad, but in a good way,’ he confesses. ‘Any new venture can be a shock to begin with, and we’ve certainly had our moments, but to be honest I have been nothing but impressed with how smoothly and well thought-through the process has been. Although we didn’t open the doors of our own centre until March we’ve got a lot of confidence that we have a great team behind us.
‘Of course, with Energy Saving Centre we have the big bonus that it’s a very well-tried business model with a lot of experience behind it.’ In fact, the first Energy Saving Centre opened in Christchurch in 1996 and has since retro-fitted over 9000 homes, giving it more than a head start in a market which has become increasingly important as home owners and governments alike have realised the need for New Zealand homes to be more energy-efficient.
‘Saving energy is going to be relevant for a long time to come,’ says Murray Clark, Energy Saving Centre’s national franchise support manager, ‘and that means big business for our franchisees. Steve and Monique could be riding the crest of a massive wave here.’
First, though, they have to open their centre. The Energy Saving Centre model has already been tested with a very successful second operation in Tauranga, which has now been trading for three years, so for Steve and Monique it’s a matter of following the model and learning the business.
While Christmas is a quiet time for many, signing the franchise agreement in December meant Steve spent the holidays deep in homework. ‘It was the ideal time really because I had a clear two weeks to absorb a lot of information,’ he says. ‘Once I had paid the deposit, the information and support from head office started to pour in. Over the holiday, I familiarised myself with the various steps that we would be going through to open our centre. I did it in small chunks and that prepared me for the busy period after Christmas, when we moved into the pre-opening timeline.
‘The first thing to do was recruit our own staff,’ Steve says. ‘Having the right staff is important, because you need people who can help customers select, plan and install the right solutions in their home. Recruiting therefore meant a lot of work, but the assistance of the franchise team at that point was just invaluable. Interviews and processes became much easier as a result of their expertise and I think we made some excellent choices.’
A suitable office and warehouse for Steve’s new business was selected and negotiated by the Energy Saving Centre franchise team. ‘To be honest, that was all a bit of a blur – I was focusing on putting together our marketing and business plans, so I took the advice of the experts who had done it before – after all, that’s what a franchise is about – and slotted the figures into my plans. Once I’d finished them, with help from the franchise team, I put them to my bank manager and accountant who both pronounced themselves more than happy.’
Steve also met all the key suppliers, such as Pink Batts and Fujitsu Heat Pumps, as well as learning about the Insulglaze and Kiwiglaze double-glazing brands. Insulglaze and Kiwiglaze are exclusive to Energy Saving Centre and specifically designed for the retro-fit market. The next part was to organise travel and accommodation for the training programme: all key Energy Saving Centre staff, whether their role is sales, management or installation, undertake at least five days full-on training at the Christchurch base. ‘This is one of the best aspects of an intelligent franchise – everyone, not just the franchisee, gets the opportunity to understand the processes from the bottom up,’ says Steve. ‘By the time we open our doors, I reckon the whole team will be ready to provide a truly professional service – and we know we’ll have the whole of the franchise network team behind us.’
Murray Clark believes that Steve and Monique are ready to make the most of the Energy Saving Centre opportunity. ‘Of course there will still be some surprises in store, but with a fast-growing market, good products and a good system behind them, they’re prepared for success.
‘If you’d like to join them, Energy Saving Centre has some excellent territories available around the country. Our thorough training means you don’t need industry knowledge: sales, marketing or management experience is good, but most of all you need a desire to succeed, a willingness to work hard and the ability to lead your own team.’
This advertorial is taken from Franchise New Zealand magazine Volume 21 Issue 1
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