Q&A: Appliance Tagging Services and SafetyQuip

For an insight into safety and the workplace, Inside Franchise Business talks with Appliance Tagging Services GM Sarah Allen and SafetyQuip CEO Gary Shearer.

Test-and-tag business Appliance Tagging Services works throughout Australia to provide electrical safety assessments, as well as testing and reporting management systems.

SafetyQuip covers the full scope of workplace safety supplies and services, with mobile units backed up by a counter-sales base and distribution warehouse.

What are the main obstacles your business has to overcome?

ATS:  We continually put the customer at the centre of our business decisions and have always invested in technology and upgrades to testing equipment and processes so as to stay ahead of the curve. Our customers demand service transparency and real-time reporting so they can satisfy their own work health-and-safety obligations.

SafetyQuip: We are about to roll out a new recruitment program with a more defined target profile.

What are your growth predictions for your brand for the next five years?

ATS: The fire safety component of our business has really taken off. While we will always be an electrical safety company that also provides fire-safety services, rather than a fire company that does electrical, this extra service has the potential to double our business in the next five years.

SafetyQuip: We believe that supporting start-up franchisees is more important than growth, so that limits us to taking on two franchisees a year. We regard as equally important the growth of existing franchisees. Our 13 present franchisees will turn in more than $20 million this year.

How do you plan to achieve growth?

ATS: Some of our franchisees have seen enormous growth in fire-safety services already. Electrical- and fire-safety services are complementary, and our platforms for both are exclusive to ATS and Australia.

Our franchisees have found that approaching their client base about adding fire services has been incredibly beneficial to their business.

SafetyQuip: Hopefully our new recruitment program will reward us. The fact we are not retail or food, and that we position ourselves as far away from shopping centres as possible, will also have appeal.

For existing franchisees to grow, we just need to consistently deliver our support programs. Ten months of significant group growth in revenue year on year suggests we’ve got it right. I don’t believe in tampering with something that is working, other than tweaking.

Are regulations having an impact on your business?

ATS: Our electrical- and fire-safety services are governed by the Workplace Health and Safety Regulations, Electrical Safety Regulations, Building Regulations and Australian Standards. While the Model Work Health and Safety Regulations are being reviewed to ensure they are achieving the objective of the Model WHS Act, we don’t foresee any major changes likely to have an impact on the regulatory framework associated with our services.

SafetyQuip: The Vulnerable Workers Bill has involved us in a lot of extra work but has been for the better. It is comforting to know that franchisees are looking after their employees. They are equally important to the business. Likewise, a complete review of our cyber security has involved many man-hours but will only make us stronger and more robust.

How does franchising benefit the business?

ATS: The ATS model ensures that as a network we are capitalising on all business opportunities. The support office is firmly focused on securing national clients, and our franchisees are focused on securing clients in their local designated marketing area. Our franchisees can also provide personal consistent service to our clients around Australia.

SafetyQuip: We are passionate about franchising and the brand. I doubt I would have grown the business to the size it is without franchising.

What is the biggest advantage franchisees gain from joining the network?

ATS: Our continued investment in technology and equipment sets us apart from sole operators and similar service providers. Also, ATS has an established _ and growing _ client base of national organisations, and our franchisees have access to service this client base.

SafetyQuip: It is simple. It has taken me 20 years to build our brand. Does anyone want to go through this themselves?

What makes an ideal franchisee?

ATS: Our ideal franchisee is focused on customer service, a great communicator and has a passion for safety. There is no need to be an electrician.

SafetyQuip: Being passionate about safety, passionate about our brand _ someone who understands distribution and is willing to harness all four sales channels.