Ex-Builder Lays Foundations For Family’s Future

Nick Stuart had acquired an impressive CV in construction over the course of his career - first as a carpenter, then a home renovator and new home builder. But after 12 years working as a construction manager for a local builder, Nick was less than enthusiastic about his career trajectory.

“Once I’d completed my long service leave, I sat back and thought, 'Where is this job really going to take me?'”

The time seemed ripe to explore other options, “My wife and I were in a position where our children were young enough for us to take something on for ourselves,” Nick says. “We started looking at what we could do and found the Totalspan business for sale.”

Nick immediately recognised the synergy between his construction skills and the franchise, “I knew that it was a good opportunity. It was something in the building trade and still very much focused on my areas of expertise – dealing with customers and clients, suppliers and contractors,” says Nick.

A reputation for quality

Nick was already fairly familiar with the local market, but decided to investigate the business’ potential further. “Through house building, I’d already gotten to know what most of the shed people were like in the local area - who had a good name and who didn’t. Totalspan was rated really highly. I also had a look at what share of the market they had,” Nick reveals.

Market intelligence in hand, Nick and Penny sat down to carefully weigh up the long term ramifications of their decision, “We had to decide whether I would stay in the house building trade or go back to home renovations,” Nick said.

“The alternative was an opportunity for us to own our own business and be personally rewarded for all the hard work and effort we put in.”

Ultimately, investing in themselves and their future was the reason Nick and Penny seized the moment, “Definitely one of the biggest reasons for buying the business was to do something for ourselves,” Nick says. “It means you're not working for someone else and earning them money, you're doing it for yourself.”

An investment in the family’s future

A desire to be more available for their children was also a motivating factor, “It was a lifestyle decision as well,” Nick says. “It's nice to gain that little bit of freedom and flexibility with the kids. It doesn't happen that often, but it's good to know you can leave early, if you have to.”

Nick says the last box the business had to tick was demand . “There needed to be consistent work - work that wouldn't dry up quickly,” he explains. “In the building game you never know, but the hope was that there would be good, consistent work.”

Manageable learning curves

While Nick had the necessary construction skills covered, there were learning curves in other areas of the business, “The building side of it wasn't a problem, it was more of a challenge to learn the accounting and so on. But we kept Wendy on - an employee of the previous owners. That made the transition very easy,” Nick explains.

‘Fantastic’ head office support

When anything unfamiliar does comes up, Nick says help is close at hand. “As far as support from head office is concerned, our BDM, John, has been absolutely fantastic. He's only ever a phone call away, to answer any questions.”

“We're working to make it a lucrative business for us.”

Nick says he is now looking forward to a long and fruitful career with lots of family time, “The expectation for the future is that we will get to a point where I can drop down to 4 days a week. So, we're aiming for that financial security as well as the freedom to spend more time with the family.”

“We definitely like to think that we'll still be here in 10 years time.”



Nick’s advice for new franchisees:

“You've got to be ready to work hard. It's definitely not the sort of business that gets handed to you, you've got to work for it. If you've got a trade or building background you shouldn't struggle, but ultimately, you've got to have a good network set up around you – whether it's your wife doing the bookkeeping or whether you employ staff - you can't do it alone.”

Favourite part of being a franchisee:

“We're earning a nice wage and we get some of that freedom and time to ourselves – but, obviously, you only get out of it what you're prepared to put into it.”