Franchisee profile - Swimart Currimundi
In the blood
For Darren and Janelle Brown, owning a swimming pool has always been in their blood. And they have put their knowledge and experiences to good use as owners of the Swimart Currimundi store in Queensland.
"Both Darren and I grew up with pools, and our pool at home is in constant use," says Janelle. "Our son could even swim by himself from the age of 18 months."
Darren and Janelle have twice owned a Swimart store, and they love what they do.
"We owned the Browns Plains store a few years ago, but due to my ill health we sold it and bought the management rights to a small resort on Noosa River," explains Janelle. "I ran that while Darren worked for Pool Systems as an account manager."
As it turns out, the experience from both of these positions was the perfect training ground for management of Swimart Currimundi.
"We heard Swimart had plans for a new store in Currimundi, an area we love, so we bought the store in 2003," Janelle says.
"We really enjoy being part of a franchise and part of a team, and personally and professionally it's been great for us. We get on well with the other franchisees and love the sharing of ideas and professional development.
"In small business you wear so many hats – HR, advertising, promotions, accounts, customer service, staff training and so on. It's hard to be an expert in everything, but being part of the Swimart group, we get to polish up our weaker skills and also to help other franchisees in areas we excel.
"But really, the paramount skill we possess is customer service. We pride ourselves on making the customer our number one priority. We spend a lot of time and effort on staff training, equipping them with the knowledge and expertise to help our customers with all their needs," adds Janelle.
It's obvious that Janelle and Darren are doing something right. They were recently recognised for excellence by the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce, winning the Franchise Business of the Year award.
"Although we have won numerous Swimart franchise awards, it was a real buzz to be recognised by our local and general business community. It was a big pat on the back for all the hard work our team has done both within our business and in the wider community," says Janelle.
Darren and Janelle understand how important it is to give something back to the local community, and they are actively involved.
"We run a very successful loyalty program with Dicky Beach Surf Club where our two children do nippers," Janelle says.
"In addition, we co-sponsor a program at Talara Primary College, where our kids attend school. This annual program involves teaching 150 year-seven students about CPR and equipping them to gain their first aid certificate.
"This knowledge was poignantly put to use when one of the graduates of the course performed CPR on a baby. And although the baby tragically died of cot death, the ambulance officers were incredibly impressed that the student had the knowledge to do the right thing until they reached the scene."
Janelle says there is a great, positive atmosphere in the shop and she believes that customers can 'feel' the goodwill.
"We enjoy ourselves and love relating to and getting to know our customers. You spend a lot of time at work, so you might as well have some fun!"