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Winners leave little to chance

Daily Telegraph Sydney, Monday 16 July 2012
Page 37, 481 word

By Laura Cencigh-Albulario

SHARING a similar name with their franchise was a matter of chance for owners of Clark Rubber Campbelltown, Ian and Denise Clarke.

Nothing else has been left up to chance though, with hard work and a hands-on approach the driving factors behind the couple’s success during their 16 years in the business.

The pair recently took out the Franchisee of the Year award in the Franchise Council of Australia’s NSW/ACT Excellence in Franchising Awards, and were named last year’s National Franchisee of the Year for the Clark Rubber Group.

Last week, the couple, both in their early 5Os, finalised the purchase of a second store, at Penrith.

Denise Clarke shares her franchising story and advice with Laura Cencigh-Albulario.

"My husband had an association with Clark Rubber as a supplier of foam and mattresses.

When they started up their franchises, we saw an opportunity to get in on the ground floor. It has now evolved into a great franchise.

You’ve already got the systems in place, and have a point of communication with the franchisor as well as other franchisees. You can discuss issues, share information and get feedback from the franchisor you’re not isolated.

To he successful in business you have to be working in it, but we’re at the stage where our staff are well-trained and can operate the business on a day-to-day level. Now, we’re looking to step back and work on ways that we can improve the business.

We work longer and harder than we did before, but things are a bit more flexible.

It was difficult in the early days when our children were younger, but it also gave our children a sense of what it’s like to have to work hard to get things. We always made sure we made time to be there for the kids’ sporting commitments, and for holidays.

We find we’re involved in different areas of the business from day-to-day, so we’re not with each other all the time.

It can be difficult to keep work and home separate, and work can spill into the home.

We’ve developed a time-out situation where, if we go out for dinner, we won’t talk about work. We’ve tried to find other activities and interests so that our whole life doesn’t revolve around work. In the early days, as much as you try not to let it dominate your life, it is your life it’s your money on the line- it’s what pays your mortgage.

Really do your homework and make sure it’s the right fit for you. Talk to existing stores like Ian and Denise Carke with their Franchisee of the Year award: hard work and a hands-on approach has paid big dividends are operating, and ask franchisees about the business.

Go in with an understanding that it isn’t a picnic, it is hard work, but if you put your hard yards in, you will get rewards. Follow the system that’s in place, and you will succeed.

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