Poolwerx franchisee scaled business

How a Poolwerx franchise scaled up and quadrupled business!

Sarah Stowe

One Poolwerx franchise partner has shown just how swiftly a one store business can become a high-performing multi-unit operation. Malcolm Price scaled up his Poolwerx business and today it is four times larger than in 2018.

As the Poolwerx franchise partner for Upper North Shore, in Sydney, Malcolm has brought to life his vision of multiple stores, backed by the brand’s strong management structure and robust processes and support and 30 years of experience as Australia’s leading pool service network.

Malcolm’s business now stretches to four retail outlets across an impressive nine territories, with 14 vans servicing the areas.

Doubling the revenue

Growth is in the Poolwerx DNA. The multi-tiered franchise structure (vans, single stores, stores with a network of vans) allows for ambitious business building and scalability targeting residential and commercial clients.

Malcolm combined his own corporate experience with Poolwerx’ industry-leading expertise to develop clear strategies for expanding his business.

He began with the purchase of the Killara store with six staff and three vans in 2018. Just two months later he bought an independent store and rebranded it Poolwerx Turramurra, bringing on another six staff and four more vans.

This acquisition doubled the revenue of the business.

“I took chances on retail locations, taking over independent stores in locations that would complement my existing footprint,” Malcolm explains.

These large retail spaces have warehouse and workshop facilities which allows for improved technology displays, water testing and chemicals storage.

Poolwerx franchise scaled business and boosted revenue

“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. It made the retail store profitable as a stand-alone within 18 months.”

After taking over existing stores Malcolm re-engineered the businesses, introducing new client strategies and pricing, and leveraging technology.

“We quickly refreshed the sites, sharpened merchandising and embarked on an education process with our staff. We also introduced an awareness campaign with the community,” he explains.

“I like to build things and I know I do that really well. I’m not just building but investing in and aligning myself with the values of the community.”

The next step was opening two brand new stores with Poolwerx’s fresh look. At this point Malcolm integrated all his stores and staff under a centralised corporate structure. This ensured he gained efficiencies and harnessed growth.

He also strategically recruited from outside the industry “to promote lateral thinking and adopt a ‘better way,’ one of Poolwerx’ values,” he says.

He’s not done yet. Twelve months ago he added a service – repairs for robotic cleaners – which has become a market-leader in the area.

And he has plans to expand further by opening brand new stores or acquiring independent outlets to meet the three-to-five-year goal of doubling again the size of the business.

“We want to further cement our industry leading scale multi-unit business model,” he says.

Scaled up franchise hits 40 per cent growth

As a franchise brand, Poolwerx has recorded double digit growth every year bar one for the last 30 years. It even sustained a 20 per cent increase in business throughout the GFC and pandemic.

From January 2020 to June 2022 Malcolm’s business grew 40 per cent, he reveals.

“We did this by leveraging our new St Ives store, making our customers feel safe during Covid with our strict health protocols, and flexing quickly during the pandemic with different offerings dependent on what restrictions were in place.

“Also, because we had multiple stores in the area our customers did not have to travel far and expose themselves to unnecessary health risks.”

He admits scale also was an important driver. “Executed correctly it creates cost savings, increased productivity and overall increases the likelihood of better performance,” says Malcolm.

“We had the resources to withstand the challenges of staff shortages and remain able to consistently deliver what our customers needed through challenging trading conditions during the pandemic.”

Poolwerx’ rigorous planning process

Malcolm sets revenue targets for each category of the business – mobile, retail / residential, commercial. NetSuite reporting technology allows him to manage inventory, assess capital expenditure for equipment, predict labour costs and future investments.

The Poolwerx business planning process is rigorous, he adds. It incorporates benchmarks set from EOFY results, overlaying industry growth rates, and competitor analysis.

“Leveraging these insights, I use extensive metrics to achieve ambitious targets,” he says.

“I’m deeply analytical and pride myself on undertaking comprehensive due diligence before making important strategic decisions,” he says.

“Whether it is one store or four, the processes, structure, people, and technology that one adopts defines its success. We embraced technology early within our business whether through inventory control or client connectivity. We continue to push the boundaries on this as Poolwerx rolls out its next evolution of ‘client centric’ technology.

“The support structure at head office is deep and all the tools are there to succeed. Poolwerx’s thinking around scale businesses has evolved with our growth, and so has its support.

“Initially, our needs were centred around technical knowledge and marketing support. Today, it is about strategic positioning, critical business thinking and leveraging technology.

“Above all it is partnering together to test the innovation boundaries of our industry and importantly being aligned to the needs of our customers. 

Poolwerx has been second to none as a franchisor” says Malcom, “and a really important part of our success over the past few years.”