CHRISTOPHER LOVELOCK AND LORELLE FRAZER
After creating a mobile service that washes dogs outside their owners' homes, a young entrepreneur has successfully franchised the concept. Her firm now has more than 100 franchises in many parts of Australia, as well as a few in other countries. She and her management team are debating how best to plan future expansion.
Elaine and Paul Beal drew up in their 4 X 4 outside 22 Ferndale Avenue, towing a bright blue trailer with red and white lettering. As Aussie Pooch Mobile franchisees whose territory covered four suburbs of Brisbane, Australia, they were having a busy day. It was only 1:00 p.m. and they had already washed and groomed 16 dogs at 12 different houses. Now they were at their last appointment—a 'pooch party' of ten dogs at number 22, where five other residents of the street had arranged to have their dogs washed on a fortnightly basis. Prior to their arrival outside the house, there had been ferocious growling and snarling from a fierce-looking Rottweiler. But when the animal caught sight of the brightly-colored trailer, he and two other dogs in the yard bounded forward eagerly to the chain link fence, in a flurry of barking and wagging tails. Throughout residential areas of Brisbane and in a number of other Australian cities, dogs of all shapes and sizes were being washed and groomed by Aussie Pooch Mobile franchisees. By early 2002, the company had grown to over 100 franchisees and claimed to be "Australia's largest mobile dog wash and care company/' A key issue facing its managing director, Christine Taylor, and members of the management team was how to plan and shape future expansion.
washed and groomed the animals at home and then returned them. Once Taylor had learned to drive and bought her own car, she decided to take her service to the customers. So she went mobile, creating a trailer in which the dogs could be washed outside their owners' homes and naming the fledgling venture The Aussie Pooch Mobile. Soon, it became a full-time job. Eventually, she found she had more business than she could handle alone, so hired assistants. The next step was to add a second trailer. Newly married, she and her husband, David McNamara, ploughed their profits into the purchase of additional trailers and gradually expanded until they had six mobile units. The idea of franchising came to Taylor when she found herself physically constrained by a difficult pregnancy: David would go bike riding or head to the coast and have fun with the jet ski and I was stuck at home and felt like I was going nuts, because I'm a really active person. I was hungry for information on how to expand the business, so I started researching other companies and reading heaps of books and came up with franchising as the best way to go, since it would provide capital and also allow a dedicated group of small business people to help expand the business further. As existing units were converted from employees to franchisee operations, Taylor noticed that they quickly became about 20% more profitable. Initially, APM focused on Brisbane and the surrounding region of southeast Queensland. Subsequently, it expanded into New South Wales and South Australia in 1995, into Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), in 1999, and into Victoria in 2000 (Exhibit 1). Expansion into Western Australia was expected in mid 2002. In 1996, a New Zealand division of the firm was launched in Tauranga, a small city some 200 km southeast of Auckland, under the name Kiwi Pooch Mobile. In 2001 Aussie Pooch Mobile launched into the United Kingdom, beginning with a town in northern England. Soon, there were four operators under a master franchisee. The following year saw the official launch of The Pooch Mobile Malaysia, also under a master franchisee. By early 2002, the company had 125 mobile units in Australia, of which 55 were located in Queensland, 42 in New South Wales, 8 in ACT, 12 in South Australia...