ARTICLE Erin Reilly
More than a third of all construction worldwide is home remodeling, yet no one specialised in it on a national scale - until now. Director Jon Bridge explains the formula behind Refresh’s growth.
Refresh Renovations has developed a business model that manages a home renovation from conception to completion, and the business has grown from a handful of New Zealand franchisees to territories across Australia and the UK. So why aren’t more people doing it?
“They are,” says Refresh director Jon Bridge. “They’re called ‘new Refresh Renovations franchisees,’ and they’re popping up all over New Zealand and Australia.”
A wry, but also right, answer. Beyond Refresh Renovations, no one has yet built a national renovation business. “Builders aren’t business-oriented, and rarely scale beyond their own local reputation,” Bridge explains. “Of those successful few that have built a business, none specialised in renovations. We’re the first.
“So the real question isn’t about why more people aren’t doing it,” Bridge says, “the real question is why it’s working so well.”
It all starts with customer leads
One of the most important benefits of being a franchisee is getting customer leads from the head office. While Refresh also provides IT systems and training, none of that matters without first getting leads.
“If you don’t have customers, you don’t need training or IT systems, or anything else,” Bridge says. “And you need a lot of leads to grow a bigger business. A little builder can’t do that because he’s always building. We run a constant marketing campaign that gives leads to franchisees, then they follow up and turn them into renovation projects. We’ve made it that simple.”
Turning leads into projects and profit
Leads alone aren’t enough for franchisees to be successful. They need to have strong business acumen and share Refresh’s vision of business growth, and they need training in Refresh’s processes and systems. Refresh offers intensive operational direction from the get-go, then ongoing coaching and support as a new franchisee sets their business up then continues to build and manage it. “We train our franchisees to follow our process, we help them build capacity by sourcing builders and designers, and we give them a robust IT system for end-to-end business management, from accounting and finance to marketing and project management,” Bridge says.
Refresh’s partnership with the industry’s leading supplier is another key part of its formula. “From the start, we give all franchisees access to our extensive network of contractors and partner our franchisees with qualified, known tradespeople,” Bridge says. “You aren’t locked into using them exclusively,” he continues, “but it’s nice to know that those relationships are in place so you can hit the ground running.”
Collaborating with your Refresh colleagues
Every year Refresh organises conferences, quarterly reviews and other events, all which provide valuable opportunities to compare notes with the rest of the Refresh family and receive additional support from head office. Often you’ll find that the challenges you’re facing as a franchisee have been overcome by another. Conferences and less formal gatherings are the perfect opportunity to share experiences and best practices, which makes the brand smarter as a whole.
And if you just need some advice or an encouraging word, the Refresh head office is just a phone call away.
A consistent outcome for customers
Robust systems and processes, collaboration with fellow franchisees, established supplier partnerships and ongoing training and coaching culminate in a consistent outcome of high-quality service to all homeowners. Customer satisfaction adds strength to the brand as it grows, so one franchisee’s successful delivery is a win for everyone.
“The market isn’t going anywhere,” Bridge says. “As long as there are homeowners looking to remodel their home and contractors looking for work, there will always be demand for more Refresh renovation specialists.”
''More than a third of all construction...''. Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University, April 2014