Q&A: Bedshed’s Gavin Culmsee chats about successful franchising and being your own boss

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Bedshed has a proven track record as a franchise and with more than three decades of experience it operates a network of over 30 stores. Bedshed has grown steadily since it started in Western Australia in 1980 and is currently expanding on the eastern seaboard. The company is a trusted member of the peak body for Australian franchising, the Franchise Council of Australia, and has supported many local entrepreneurs start their own business.

Ahead of their plans to grow in the Sydney market, Kochie’s Business Builders spoke with Gavin Culmsee, Bedshed’s General Manager, about what it takes to be a successful franchisee, the company’s strategy and how the business differs from other franchisors.

#1. Why should someone consider making the transition to a franchisee?

What’s great about franchising is that despite the flat economy environment we’ve been operating in over the last 12 months, retail franchising continues to grow. This was made clear in Griffith University’s recent Franchising Australia 2016 Report.

Franchising offers both lifestyle and financial benefits for those who work hard. It’s great for people who want to be their own boss but also want the support and guidance of a trusted brand. There is also the potential for multisite opportunities for the right franchisee.

Franchising is also a great way to future proof your career. The risk of getting made redundant or retrenched is seriously mitigated.

#2. What does it take to be a successful franchisee?

Many of the skills needed to run a successful franchise can be taught, for example best sales practice, marketing tips, and revenue management. What can’t be taught, however, is a positive attitude. Candidates with the right attitude, who are driven to succeed, are the ones who produce the best results.

Interpersonal skills are also essential; as a franchisee’s ability to interact with customers will determine the trust and loyalty that is put in them. Equally important is how a franchisee interacts with their staff. A franchise store is only as good as the people who work in it, so it’s integral that staff feel happy and motivated.  

bedshed#3. Explain Bedshed’s philosophy, the company’s strategy and recent developments

At Bedshed, we work extremely hard to foster a culture that’s inclusive of everyone in the team, and caters to each individual’s needs. We want our franchisees to enjoy a fulfilling and flexible career, which includes both lifestyle and financial benefits.

Independent research shows our franchisees are more financially satisfied than 84 percent of the sector, so I believe we’re on the right track. Of course, we’re constantly striving to do better.

About 18 months ago, we embarked on a full refurbishment of our network of stores. We call this our evolution fit out. In our opinion, they’re the best looking stores in the country! By the end of the financial year we’ll have around 90 percent of our stores fitted out in this new format. We see this as a fantastic approach to bedding retailing, keeping us at the forefront of the industry. It’s not only driven our top-end bedding sales, but it’s also driven our furniture sales.

Our website has also bedroom planner, which allows people to lay out furniture from a particular range according to the measurements in their room. This allows our shoppers to go home, lay out the measurements in their room, and then make the order. Simple!  

Another recent development is Bedshed’s expansion into the Sydney metro region. As a business, we figured if you want to be a true national player, you need to play in Sydney metro. We’re therefore offering an incentive package valued at $275,000 for up to five new Bedshed stores in the Sydney region. This will massively help to support candidates in their establishment phase, which is often the most difficult to overcome. This special offer is currently available until March 2017.

#4. How does Bedshed support franchisees and in what ways does this differ from many franchisors?

Keeping a close alignment with all franchisees is a high priority for me and the rest of the team. We work hard to ensure they have the necessary support, right at their fingertips, whenever they need.

While we strive to offer valuable guidance as a franchisor, we seek a great deal of input from our franchisees. Franchisees have the option to contribute to valuable marketing and product purchasing decisions via our Franchise Advisory Council and Merchandise Advisory Council. Both Councils meet frequently and are a great place for franchisees to get involved and share their opinions and feedback. Members of the Merchandise Advisory Council are invited to attend our twice yearly overseas buying trips, to observe trends and select product ranges.

This way, franchisees know what’s going on; they’re involved from the start. What you often find in other franchised networks is that either the franchisees aren’t involved, or they don’t know what’s going on. We’re proud of the fact that our franchisees are very much aligned with where the business is heading, and that means everyone’s successful.

#5. Working with many franchisees over the years – what success stories have inspired you?

There are many success stories, when you are closely involved with franchisees, it is really satisfying to see them achieve their goals. One that comes to mind is a franchisee is Victoria, who was a salesperson in one of our stores and took the leap of faith and purchased her own franchise with her husband. The business has gone from strength to strength and she was voted onto the Merchandise Council by her fellow franchisees and has done a fantastic job representing them. This was recognised by her winning the top award in our business this year as Franchisee of the Year. I think that combined with the lifestyle benefits of a month long holiday in Europe this year shows she has achieved her goals.

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Chloe Potvin
Chloe Potvin is a contributing small business writer for Kochie's Business Builders.

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