Bedshed family business

It’s like family: why Bedshed’s culture inspires long-term business ownership

Sarah Stowe

Olivia Green has been around the bedding business since she was a little kid jumping on the mattresses at her mother’s Bedshed store.

“I’ve been in bed retail most of my life,” she says. “I started work at 16 and then worked full time while I was doing my business degree at uni.”

Today you will find Olivia knee-deep in stock sheets, placing orders, doing accounts, or out on the floor at one of the family’s three stores. 

Next generation 

“I put myself on the roster, I love personal communication with customers. I do everything, from dealing with overseas suppliers to working in the service department.

“This business is different from the competition; we connect differently, and we help people, it makes you feel good. I wouldn’t work anywhere else.

“I just love the business model and how it is run through head office. If you need a quick answer, or something more complicated, there’s always someone to support you.”

Olivia is already working on how she can step into her own business and replicate the success of her parents, Sandra and Rob Green.

“I want to have my own store. I love working with my parents, but I see the potential for the lifestyle they live, and I want to do that. I am a mini-Sandra,” she says.

It has been 20 years since Sandra and Rob took on a Bedshed franchise. Sandra had already carved a career out of the bedding market, while Rob had a background in construction and engineering.

From the early days he has taken on multiple roles behind the scenes, as well as selling in the store.

Team work and family

“I do 90 per cent logistics, warehousing, organising containers and handling warranty services, repairs. I’m a nuts and bolts man,” Rob admits.

The logistics role has grown significantly with the exponential increase in imported furniture.

Bedshed provides exclusive bed ranges for its franchisees which gives the brand a distinct point of difference. The opportunity to travel on overseas buying trips with the franchisor is an additional benefit.

“Bedshed is a great organisation,” says Rob. 

The couple looked long and hard at the business model, and could see the benefits of the systems, the smooth running of the network, and the longevity of the franchisees and staff within the group.

Most of Rob and Sandra’s staff have been with them between eight and 10 years. And that is not unusual in a franchise which rarely has an established business for sale – franchisees, like their staff, enjoy the benefits of a long-term commitment.

Rob believes the Bedshed business is ideal for a family. “It’s not the money; Bedshed becomes part of your life. There’s a passion there. We will keep going as long as we can. Olivia will be a great asset, she’s the new generation.”

A lifelong passion 

Sandra went straight from school to a job selling mattresses, and she hasn’t looked back. Today she is just as passionate about the bed retail market.

“It’s the diversity of the job, I love selling, I love people and you don’t get bored. You are always busy, meeting with people, liaising with suppliers.

“This is really a Bedshed family, and I feel really integrated. There is an awesome team at central office, and our state managers are so supportive. You’re not just an independent business without any help.”

As a former independent retailer, Sandra understands the value of strong, consistent support in helping a business grow. 

“When I heard Bedshed was expanding into Victoria I jumped on a plane to visit head office in Western Australia. Olivia was six months old at the time. I was so keen.”

In fact, Sandra was so enthusiastic about the potential for business growth with Bedshed that after signing up to the Highpoint store the Watergardens site became available.

“So, I opened the first two Bedshed stores in Victoria, on the same day, Boxing Day! I couldn’t get rid of them,” she says, “they are like my babies!”

There’s now a third store, Waurn Ponds, in the Green mini-empire.

“We have our own fully-manned warehouse and accounts office, we’ve got a good operation,” she says.

Long-term commitment

“Olivia and I bounce off each other, we drive the businesses. It’s not a one-person job. And I don’t think I can ever totally retire; I see myself perhaps stepping back a bit once I’m a bit more sorted.”

That long term commitment to the brand is what marks out a Bedshed franchisee. The long tenure seems written into the brand DNA. 

“Most people who move on, retire,” says Sandra. “This is an enjoyable business with good rewards. Of course, you have to work hard, it’s not an easy ride. To succeed, you have to work in/at at your business.”

The Bedshed family-feel comes from a shared outlook and willingness to agree, she says.

“Everything is about agreement. In the franchise advisory council and members advisory councils we have discussions about anything effecting the business. 

Bedshed is the best model I’ve seen in this industry. The formula does work. We’re a partnership.”