Following on with our business franchise series at Eden Exchange, we spoke with David Myles, Franchise Support Manager for Gutter Knight, the leading Gutter Guard franchise in Australia. David described his past in the NRL and his involvement in the Gutter Knight franchise. David also discusses Gutter Guard’s point of difference in the industry and what it takes to be a successful franchisee in the sector.
Eden Exchange: Hello David, Thank you for this opportunity. First off, Can you tell us a little about what Gutter Knight is and the services it provides? Notably what is the difference between Gutter Knight and other Gutter based franchises?
David Myles:. Thanks for the invite guys. Gutter Knight is a family owned and operated Gutter Guard company. Our Head Office is based in Brisbane however are currently in 13 locations around Australia and expanding rapidly. Our core business is to supply and install locally manufactured products which keep leaves and debris out of gutters. The greatest point of difference of Gutter Knight and others is the background of Brian Brown and myself. We are not tradesman or previous Gutter Guard installers, we come from a Business Coaching and Consulting background which is very unique in the Franchise industry and a big reason why our Franchisees are so successful.
Our Franchise system and ongoing support/coaching, allows our Franchisees to follow a proven system and process which is not only simple to follow but is very easily scalable while keeping great profit margins. This gives them the freedom and choice to run their businesses in 3 ways depending on their lifestyle and goals. The first option is to do all the work themselves eg make the sale then do the installation. The second option is to outsource all of the work. The third option is a combination of the two. What this means is that while our Franchisees run their own businesses, we are invested in their success therefore throw all of our support and resources behind them to ensure they are building a great business. We are totally upfront with this and our Franchisees love it!
Eden Exchange: Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background and what your current role is in Gutterknight?
David Myles: I’ve always had a head for businesses, even as a kid. My first business was hiding in the bushes on the 7th hole at the Keperra Golf Course and waiting for the golfers to hit the ball in the bushes. I would then find their ball by the time they came down and sell them back to them for 50c. After a while other kids wanted in so I ended up having them go find the golf balls, bring them to me where I would buy them for 20c then go and sell to the golfers for 50c or $1. This was much more than the $2 a week my parents were giving me for pocket money.
I played in the NRL (National Rugby League) from the time I left school until I was 30. Actually if I am honest I was too old and slow by then so they kicked me out! As a player in the NRL I developed a lot of skills which have been integral in this next phase of my life. When I knew my career was coming to an end I started to network more actively with sponsors and other business leaders. After football, I met Brian Brown (no not the actor). Brian is now my business partner and the Founder of Gutter Knight. Brian had a Business Coaching and Consulting company in which I began to work in.
My current role in Gutter Knight is based around supporting our Franchisees with the growth (personal also) of their businesses to ensure they are building a business which can support their personal goals and lifestyle they are wanting for themselves and their families. I also grow the brand as a whole to ensure we continue to gain market share as a group and also attract the RIGHT people into our Gutter Knight team.
Eden Exchange: As the Franchise Support Manager of Gutter Knight, how did you become involved with the Company?
David Myles:. This is a pretty cool story. My bookkeeper at the time came to me while I was Business Coaching and told me of a client of hers who unfortunately had a child with Leukemia, which had forced her to leave her job to look after her child. The husband has a business which was installing Gutter Guard based on the southern end of the Gold Coast. At the time, I had never even heard of Gutter Guard! As a favour and it was the right thing to do, I agreed to help him out to get his business back on track so he could support his family and take some financial stress off them. Within 6 weeks we had the business do its biggest week. By the end of the second month we had just done his record month. By month three, the business had doubled. They were over the moon and he was well and truly on his way to building a great business, which could be flexible enough for them to do what they required to support their child as well as not worry about money.
I had always wanted to franchise a business. I never knew what, however it has always been a goal of mine. I thought about it for a while before discussing it with Brian Brown. We agreed to run a pilot in Brisbane. I then did the right thing and contacted the client who I had assisted with his Gutter Guard business and out of courtesy asked him if he would like to be involved. He politely declined and wished us luck. From there we ran the business as a pilot for 2 years with the view of Franchising when we believed we had the systems and processes down pat so we could duplicate the results. That was 6 years ago now and the business has gone from strength to strength.
Eden Exchange: Has the business exceeded all expectations so far? Can you elaborate on what is involved in creating a business like Gutterknight? What obstacles did you encounter along the way?
David Myles: As far as expectations go from an outside point of view, we are certainly well and truly above where many thought we would be. Within 6 months we were the manufacturers largest local client and with 18 months we were their biggest client nationally which includes Bunnings, Tradelink etc. However internally we always had a belief and knew Gutter Knight would be successful and quickly become a leader in our industry. I don’t mean to come across as arrogant, we just believed in what we were creating and also the Franchisees we have been lucky enough to have come in to the business. Creating the business has been a real journey for us all. It has been one of huge personal growth and development and been a lot of fun. Not to say there hasn’t been obstacles along the way, there certainly has. One of them being my naivety with the complexity, legalities and time required to actually turn a business into a Franchise. This is where I have been blessed to be involved with Brian Brown as he excels in the governance, processes and systems development. This was a real learning curve for me and gave me an appreciation of the process.
Eden Exchange: Australia is considered to experience the harshest climates in the world, wth notable flooding, scorching heat, high wind storms and highly temperamental seasons. How does Australia’s climate and weather patterns impact on your demand and the development of your product?
David Myles: We are constantly looking to improve our products for our customers, it is a core focus to ensure we are always a head of the pack. We have some very exciting new patents coming out which will again boost us ahead of other competitors out there. Weather patterns can play a role throughout the year however this is mainly through awareness of our customers. Storm season for example normally brings with it news reports around maintaining your home, being storm safe etc which draws attention to the customers that they may need to do something with their Gutters. Heavy rain and also bush fires, again through organic news does bring more awareness about the requirement of a Gutter Protection system, however I wouldn’t say it has a large impact on our business. It certainly is a driver at these parts of the year for our Franchisees however we have many other drivers and markets we create ourselves which have a greater impact on our Franchisees’ businesses.
Eden Exchange: According to your website the Gutter Knight business model is based on continuous improvement to product and service. What developments are you focused on in regards to service? And what improvements to product are you considering in the future?
David Myles: Service to our customers is our number one priority. We have the simple philosophy of treating all customers exactly the way you would like to be treated. We believe that starts with communication, gratitude and respect. All of our internal and external systems are designed around these three core values. We are in the business of serving our customers. Without them Gutter Knight would not exist. Because of this, we are constantly surveying clients, updating and refining our processes where required to ensure that every interaction with Gutter Knight from a customer point of view is a positive one. We are also realistic and things go wrong from time to time. When this happens, we do not shy away and rectify whatever we need to ensure a positive outcome for the customer and Gutter Knight. We have some very exciting product improvements coming up later this year with a focus on improving installation time so that our Franchisees and installers can install much more product in a day increasing their capacities and businesses.
Eden Exchange: At the moment you only have a limited number of franchises across Australia. What is Gutterknight looking for in potential franchisees and what personalities work best with the Gutterknight model?
David Myles: Yes, having a limited amount of Franchises available ensures the success of our Franchisees. Our business is not suitable for everyone, we have knocked back people wanting to be involved and will continue to do so if we believe they are not the right people to join the team. Gutter Knight is a people focussed business and has a strong team focus so anyone who comes in must be adding to the group. When the guys on the Sunshine Coast do something good, that affects the guys in Perth and vice versa, it also has the same affect if they do something not so good, therefore finding the right people with the same personal values as Gutter Knight is crucial to us. We are focussed on only bringing 4 to 5 new Franchisees on per year, this allows us to ensure we spend enough time with prospective Franchisees to see if it’s a good fit for both parties and also to give them the training and support they deserve when they come on board. This gives them the foundation to build a sustainable and profitable business. In five years’ time, we will be the known Australia wide by customers, builders, architects as the go to guys for Gutter Protection. I think we will do it in 3.
Coach ability is a key factor. Our best Franchisees have never been on a roof before, some don’t get on now either, however they have extremely profitable businesses all because they were coachable. Honest and ethical, these are core values of Gutter Knight. People who have a desire to better themselves and create a better lifestyle for their families, we are a family owned an operated business and treat each other as such. We are a growth oriented company, both personally and professionally. Team focus, you must be able to work as a team. Together as a group we are much stronger than individuals. We have private online portals which all Franchisees engage in, share stories, have a laugh and also share successes with each other to help in their businesses. We have a vast range of personalities which is great, we have ex corporates, ex footy players, ex photographers, ex miners, ex drafties, ex sales guys all however share the same core values as mentioned here. In short, we have a great group of Franchisees that are all great people and a lot of fun to be around.
Eden Exchange: Thanks David. It has been a pleasure talking to you and we hope to hear from you again soon.
Gutter Knight is an Australian owned and run business based in Brisbane with owner operators around Australia who provide high quality, value for money gutter protection available for residential through to commercial applications. All products are Australian made / product of Australia and pass through many strict Quality Control processes to ensure the highest quality material available.