How one Poolwerx franchisee is raising the bar

Poolwerx franchise partner profile
Malcolm Price is a model franchise partner in the Poolwerx business. (Source: Supplied)

Poolwerx is attracting a new type of franchise partner. Former financial industry senior executive, Malcolm Price’ entrepreneurial corporate background perfectly aligned with the new franchise partner profile. Five years from his first store purchase he shares some insights on business.

What are the key parameters you established when setting up your business?

I re-engineered my businesses, implementing new client strategies and pricing, leveraging technology, and leaning on Poolwerx’ industry-leading expertise. I also embarked on a recruitment drive, purposefully hiring from outside the industry to promote lateral thinking and adopt a ‘better way’, one of Poolwerx’ values.

I took chances on retail locations, taking over independent stores in locations that would complement my existing footprint. My stores have now set a new standard for retail store formatting, combining large retail spaces with warehouse and workshop facilities to better display technology, seamlessly conduct water tests and store extensive chemicals.

The innovative retail concept pioneered for my third site enabled the service business to grow 100-150 per cent every month over its first 12 months and made the retail store profitable as a stand-alone within 18 months.  

What have been the levers to building a scalable business?  

Being agile, nimble and decisive based on mature strategies. I’m deeply analytical and pride myself on undertaking comprehensive due diligence before making important strategic decisions. Given my extensive cross-industry knowledge, I take on many roles usually externally sourced.

The Poolwerx business planning process is rigorous, using EOFY results to set benchmarks, analysing in segments overlaid with industry growth rates and competitor analysis. 

Leveraging these insights, I use extensive metrics – planning out revenue targets at the highest level broken down into categories (mobile, retail / residential, commercial), inventory management, capital expenditure for equipment, labour costs and additional investments to achieve ambitious targets – monitored and reviewed using NetSuite reporting technology.

What was the starting point for multi-unit benchmarking? Can you talk through this project?

Whether it is one store or four, the processes, structure, people and technology that one adopts defines its success. From day one back in 2018, the vision was multiple stores, a strong management structure and robust processes. This was over laid in late 2019 with an improved operating system that allowed us to better understand and connect with our clients.

We embraced technology early within our business whether through inventory control or client connectivity and continue to push the boundaries on this as Poolwerx rolls out its next evolution of ‘client centric’ technology. The keys to success of a scalable business is creating economies of scale and removing duplication. Executed correctly it creates cost savings, increased productivity and overall increases the likelihood of better performance. 

In what other ways have you worked on innovations with Poolwerx?

We’ve been the ‘test business’ for several key technology initiatives for Poolwerx which has allowed us to be well prepared to tackle any retail or technology challenges our stores may encounter. We trialled, supported and helped introduce the payment gateway within NetSuite for Poolwerx. This has enabled a PCI-compliant process to securely store credit card details, providing a fully automated process allowing us to take payment from clients upon completion of work.

We were one of the first partners to adopt the tool, trialling it through our business before the franchisor rolled it out across the network. The tool will have significant cash flow benefits for every franchise partner and continues to position Poolwerx as an industry leader with best-practice processes. 

As a franchise partner, what have been the challenges of working on these partnership projects?

Being a pilot business always has its challenges. You spend extra time understanding the systems or project capabilities and then work to find ways to improve what’s being offered. This takes time and resources from within your business. The outcomes are worth the effort, as you help other franchisees that may not have the time or resources to do as you have.

We have a culture across Poolwerx to innovate and lead and that certainly is a core pillar within my business as well. We will always put up our hand to help push the boundaries of innovation. 

What are you working on now?

Our current plans are two-fold. Firstly, being a pilot business for Poolwerx as they roll-out the next generation of mobile service and retail technology.

Secondly, growth is a focus. We are currently evaluating both acquisition and organic ways to double the size of the business over the next three to five years.

My team and I have worked hard to assemble a fantastic group of people across our business and we believe that we are well positioned to maintain the growth trajectory that we have enjoyed since 2018. Our goal is to create a true scale business benchmark within our industry. 

How are you involved in leadership?

I am an early adopter for all things marketing, business structure and financial and technology initiatives. I actively participated in industry body discussions with the Sydney Water Board on level 2 water restrictions during 2019/2020. I acted as a representative to the Poolwerx senior leadership team, where I had a seat at the table alongside large business owners.

I chair Poolwerx’ NSW Regional Advisory Council (RAC) and National Advisory Council (PAC) that represents the entire Poolwerx franchise partner network, overseeing monthly meetings and bi-annual strategic sessions with the Poolwerx management team.

What marks out Poolwerx as a forward-thinking franchisor?

Poolwerx is the leading pool service franchise for good reason. John O’Brien’s ability to predict trends has seen the company grow exponentially and weather many economic fluctuations and downturns.

Poolwerx set a new standard for business franchising with a genuine investment in their people because they understand their team is their greatest asset. By investing back into the company, Poolwerx are showing franchise partners and employees that they care for your growth, with franchisee profitability a key indicator of overall Poolwerx success.