By Jacob Foster, CEO.
FCF’s Journey started in 2008.
Leaving a secure job is always a big leap and for many people it’s the final step in their career.
Having a new family and wanting to provide for my children, I looked into starting my own business. Officially we started in 2008, however it took about eight months beforehand to set up the required licences and investigate how to operate a business.
I was a tradie looking to give it a go and I wanted to give it my best shot. The only real issues were the legal side of things and the starting time; the same time as the GFC (Global Financial Crisis). Many say Australia was sheltered from the GFC, however my regional area seen everyone lock up their wallets and start searching for better prices. In a way this was a blessing, but also tough to see the good times. Either way it was too late to turn around; I worked and worked more than ever before. Some people go into business for a lifestyle, I knew this would come one day, but for the first few years I just worked.
We realised with the increasing workload that something had to change. We also noticed that the clients we were gaining owned local shops, businesses etc. The clients that we couldn’t get onboard, had businesses in other towns, states or were national and they wanted one provider. This left us feeling like we couldn’t really reach full potential in our area because we couldn’t service all the businesses. I trialled a branch in Bundaberg (only an hour away) and over the course of a year had two managers; one each six-month period to trial different styles.
As a result, what become obvious was the lack of attention after 5.00pm. Some business owners are busy during the day and call after everyone is gone. A manager switched off. Another option for us was franchising, which we saw was a great concept and we can have others join in to assist each other. Plus, franchisees are business owners, not just a manager that works the set hours and takes a pay cheque.
Cost was a major factor and we needed the current territory (FCF Wide Bay) to be super-efficient, so that we could use all profit to fund the expansion into franchising.
Then Came A Name Change
Fraser Coast Fire was the original business name and it has a nice ring to it, say it out loud and you will see what I mean. However, the name isn’t applicable to people anywhere away from the Fraser Coast region.
So, we abbreviated and added our two main areas of service on so that people understood what we do. This was a big change and to this day in the original territory people know us as Fraser Coast Fire or FCF. Mainly our original customers whom we have had for 10 plus years, still reference us as Fraser Coast Fire.
2012 seen FCF Fire & Electrical enter the franchising market. A lot of background work and new learning was required. I realised that even though my business was a success, I needed to learn how to run others with them. After completing a Diploma in Franchising, I possessed a new skill set to move forward.
John and Carmen became Pioneers for the FCF Franchise, their story is here. After all the formalities had been completed we moved to focus on starting to help them enter a new industry.
Six years later after a net profit of $170k per year they sold for $241,500 after a buy in of $35k (todays system includes more tooling etc). I couldn’t have asked for better people to be FCF’s Pioneers. John and Carmen are very strong willed.
We’ve had our good times and bad times but always agreed to move forward, which gained much respect between us. After all, this is a two-way street and I can’t have everything my way or else I would have called the business Jacob’s Show.
The team has grown from me in the lounge room after hours scribbling on paper to map out a plan, to seven dedicated team members (probably more by the time you’re reading this). We now have a Business Development Manager, a Marketing Team, National Accounts Officer, Franchise Support Officer and Technical Support Officer. I wish I had this team at the beginning of my business as I would have grown a lot faster and had access to the larger clients we look after today.
It’s no secret how we become so successful in any territory we enter and of course some things have to be kept close to heart, but these are the main ones:
- Customer Service
- Upskilling Staff
- Not increasing clients pricing at all costs
- Buying Power
The only thing that really holds all of this together is making sure that we select the right people to succeed in our system. Franchising isn’t for everyone and working with business owners can be difficult.
The people we need are very focused, work well in a team and can lead. These qualities sound easy and with an open mind they can be easy to learn.
International & National Recognition 2016 International Franchise Association,this will always be a major highlight for me, as I was selected as one of 20 franchisors under 35 to take business global.
With one other Australian selected, we flew to Texas, USA where we were greeted and put to work at the largest franchise executive conference in the world. I wasn’t there for any other reason than promoting FCF and gaining Rick Yon as a mentor, who is running the largest electrical franchise system in America.
You just can’t buy these mentors and I had won Ricks attention for 12 months, which still goes on today.
2017/2018 Vero Insurance Business Success Story.
I couldn’t get enough attention with friends and franchisees when I became one of three business success stories for Vero Insurance for 2017/2018. They flew me to Sydney and I did my first photo shoot. This was my short-lived modelling career. I agreed to do it because I knew it was going to be good for the FCF Brand. We were featured on billboards on major roadways, advertisements on buses and more.
In short, I don’t enter many competitions or business awards. It's obviously great to receive recognition, but what’s the point really to be listed as a fast grower? I would rather spend that time building a better system.
International & National Recognition
2016 International Franchise Association
This will remain as a major high light for me as I was selected as one of 20 franchisors under 35 to take business global. With one other Australian selected we flew to Texas USA and were greeted and put to work at the largest franchise executive conference in the world. I was there for any other reason than promoting FCF and also gaining what I wanted which was Rick Yon, who is running the largest electrical franchise system in America. You just can’t buy these mentors and I had won Ricks attention for 12 months, which still goes on today.
I couldn’t get enough attention with friends and franchisees when I became one of three business success stories for Vero Insurance for 2017/2018. They flew me to Sydney and I did my first photo shoot and that was my short lived model career, really I agreed because I knew it was good for the FCF Brand. Billboards on major roadways, pics on buses and more.
In short I don’t enter many competitions or business awards. What’s the point really to be listed as a fast grower? I would rather spend that time building a better system.