Aussie broker scale franchise

How one high-flying Aussie broker has scaled up to a franchise

Sarah Stowe

There’s a little bit of serendipity in Melanie Smith’s timing. In 2010 she started her Aussie Home Loans broker business and her beloved Collingwood team won the AFL Premiership.

“Aussie sponsored the team and because I was looking for a business for myself, it seemed like a message!” says Melanie.

Once she started researching the mortgage broking market and competitors, it became clear that Aussie was the standout brand.

“Everything came together. I love the support that is available, the processes, the easily identifiable catchphrase – “we’ll save you”. I want to have a brand that people recall.”

Now this high-flying Aussie Home Loans broker is poised to extend from her home base and open her first bricks-and-mortar store this spring.

And once again the Magpies have captured the flag.

Aussie broker scales business to a franchise

While Melanie loves the coincidence, she knows from her years of experience that with the backing of Aussie, everything is in place for her to take the business to the next level.

While she was writing home loans, the support team was helping choose the site, negotiating a great lease deal and ensuring store build and set-up went smoothly.

Melanie’s plans for her franchise are focused on great staff management.

“I want my staff happy to be there and enthused, bouncing into work on a Monday and ready to get stuck into it. There are so many things I want to do as a franchisee; I want to really own the business.”

It’s been 13 years since Melanie started out as a broker, a role that suited her need for extreme flexibility.

“I was retrenched from my events and sales job with a corporate farming business when I had my first child. When I was pregnant with my second, I knew I didn’t want to work for someone else.”

Melanie had taken a job with a financial planner who could accommodate her childcare needs.

“But I realised that I could be productive at home, and I really wanted to build something for us, for the family. If I put this much effort and time into work, I want to be my own boss.”

Leveraging the brand power

The Aussie training, lead generation, and mentoring set her up for success, she says.

“Everyone at Aussie wants you to succeed. If other brokers are doing the right thing, all of Aussie shines. Everyone supports each other. That’s the community spirit that you get, that comes from the leadership; we’re a family.”

She has flourished as a business owner and mum, building trust with clients who were in similar situations.

“I evolved my business pitch to showcase that caring factor, that I had my babies to look after early evening. As a mortgage broker you are often out at night visiting clients. So I ensured clients booked sessions in advance, and after 7pm.”

Working from an old sleepout and defining her own boundaries set her up for several years of success.

Melanie leveraged the Aussie brand with local community to build her business.

“I sponsor and coach junior AFL, I coach under-11 girls, train under-9s, take Kinder Kick; I’m fully committed to footy and girls’ sports.

“It’s about being more than just a sponsor; it embeds me in the community and builds a level of trust.”

She’s happy to reveal she is a finalist in Women in Finance, a national award for the Women’s Community Program of the Year.

High-performing business owner lifts to next level

Melanie loves that Aussie provides qualified customer appointments and supports admin and lodgemen of the customer’s application through to the lender. This enables her to focus on growth and dollar productive activities.

She has reached the brand’s Signature Diamond broker status which makes her one of the top 2.5 per cent highest performers in the network.

“I am very competitive, and I wanted to be top of the charts!” she says.

Now she is ready to scale up from her broker business and accelerate success in an Aussie franchise.

“My youngest child is now 13 and I am ready to step out of my comfort zone, to challenge myself,” she says.

“I’ve done really well but I have had a cap on growth, because it suited the family. Now the kids are more independent, and it is time for me to take the lid off and see what I can do.”

She’s impatient to take the next step, keen to help other brokers achieve their goals.

“It is time for me to learn off other people too, learn new ideas. That’s what’s exciting about this move.”

Scaling up her business is an obvious step for someone as competitive as Melanie.

“Once I decided to open a store, I knew I want to have three stores in five years!” she admits.

“The brilliant thing is, with Aussie, you don’t need to have a store at all. There are so many ways to build your own business. Now we are part of the Lendi Group, you can work as a broker online, work from home, or become a franchisee and own a store. Whatever suits your lifestyle, whichever way you go, you can be a success.”