wetseal hero

Sealing your future: how the right franchise can help to bridge a career change

Melbournian Michael Marchment isn’t alone in his desire to find his purpose. From farm life and the armed forces to factory work as a boilermaker, it unexpectedly took a leaky shower to secure his direction. The decision to become a franchise owner gave Michael more than he expected and support when he needed it most.

Author

Anne-Maree Brown

There aren’t too many bosses who would spontaneously give their whole team extra time off, but Michael Marchment of Wet-seal believes in rewarding hard work and one sunny Monday prior to Melbourne Cup day he decided to give his entire team a four day break. After all, the franchise owner has earnt the right to be generous, his own journey to success is the result of putting in the hard yards too, with a dash of risk and indispensable support.  

wetseal
L-R: Rebecca Marchment (Michael’s daughter), Michael Marchment, Michelle Bennett (Michael’s fiancé) & Mark Greenwood.

Growing up on a family farm in Saint Arnaud, rural Victoria, young Michael would earn his keep preparing and dressing rabbits to sell to the local community. Just shy of 17, he joined the Royal Australian Navy.

With the armed forces he found security, training and mateship, as well as his wife-to-be, Heather. But soon came the sacrifices: ‘By 1989, I had two small children and was only home for five weeks in 12 months. I even missed my daughter’s birth,’ Michael says. 

It’s only natural then that civilian life came loudly knocking on the door. He left the navy for work as a fitter and turner and boiler attendant in a cardboard box factory where he stayed for more than twenty years. The stability that followed provided decades of happy memories as the family grew, but the impact of difficult managers, various workplace challenges and shift work took their toll. 

 

For most this would be part and parcel of balancing work and home life, but Michael says he began to wonder what other opportunities were ‘out there’.

‘I knew I needed a change, and didn’t want to just sit on my hands and see my life tick by...Heather thought I was joking,’ he laughs.

Then came a leaky ensuite. Michael’s carpenter son-in-law suggested he call Wet-seal, an award-winning nation-wide franchise network specialising in waterproofing solutions. The recommendation proved fateful.

‘I will never forget the day,’ Michael says. ‘The owner came to my home and we got chatting. It turned out he had been running the Wet-seal franchise along with another business and his time had become stretched. My mind started wondering, “what if, what if?”’

Michael says following research and family consultation he felt he had found what he’d been looking for. This was August 2011. By mid-September Michael was in training; a month later he and Heather were in business as franchise owners, chartering an exciting new chapter in their lives.

Michael says that while the transition to franchisee was a fast one, feeling informed and supported solidified his decision to take on the challenge.

As far as Wet-seal’s CEO Mark Greenwood is concerned this is what makes the business stand out in the franchise landscape. ‘We are after a long-term relationship with our franchise business owners. Support and training is paramount,’ he says.

‘After our initial conversations, we fly potential business partners to our head office in Coffs Harbour so they can spend the day with the team, [getting exposure to] training, sales and the technical aspects of the job. It’s important that they have a view of our overall system.’

wetseal mark
Mark Greenwood, CEO Wet-seal

Mark adds that once someone has conclusively made their decision to become a franchise owner, they’re welcomed to a four-week induction training program involving all aspects of the work and business. The support, he says, is a key point of differentiation.

‘If our franchisees are successful so are we,’ Mark says. ‘We are linked to common goals of increasing sales and revenue, so, any support that we provide to improve “our” brand and market share is important to both parties.

‘We’re not prescriptive in the support we offer, each franchisee has different needs,’ he adds.

In Michael’s case that support came into play without warning not long after joining Wet-seal. In late 2012, he sadly lost his invaluable partner in life and business, Heather, to cancer.

‘It would have been an unbelievably difficult situation for any family, let alone one that had just entered a new business in a new industry,’ Mark says. ‘We [made sure we] were all there for him.’

For Michael he took on all the physical labour and administration of the business, and went from strength to strength: ‘I always feel I can call and ask for advice on how to deal with something difficult, technically or even how best to communicate with a client.’

Now, six years later, Mark says he is the biggest franchisee in terms of turnover, owning a second franchise in Ballarat and employing numerous staff, including his daughter, who helps run his office and bookings.

‘Our Franchisee of the Year award speaks volumes for his drive. Michael has a willingness to learn and he is not afraid to seek out advice from our team members.’

When asked what else makes a franchise owner like Michael special, Mark says client service and excellent staff management.

‘Customers respect him enormously. Our surveys in this area highlight that relationships are built on mutual respect,’ he says. ‘The other key area for me is his [management of] staff. Numerous team members employed by Michael have come to head office for training and each one you talk to all speak highly of Michael as a boss and what a good man he is,’ he says. (The unexpected leave bonus a big point in his favour, no doubt.)

When looking to the future, Michael says he is slowly turning the reins over to his daughter and happily looking forward to enjoying retirement with his current partner, Michelle. And when he does, he will be able to justifiably sit back and be proud of what he has achieved.

 

For further information on what Wet-seal can do for you, please call our National Franchise Manager Brendan Hoy on 1800 025 081 or email brendan@wet-seal.ws

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