25 Sep 2019
Words Ben Hall Informer Issue 95
BEING YOUR OWN BOSS: Quest-Style
It is Australasia’s leading apartment hotel operator, with over 170 locations across Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji and now Quest Apartment Hotels is set to go global, with the launch of its first property in the United Kingdom in September 2019, Quest Liverpool City Centre. Quest has always had a focus on extended stay business travellers and the company is also a leader in helping people to transition into being their own boss.
Quest has provided hospitality business ownership opportunities to people looking to take the plunge from “earner” to “owner” for nearly 30 years. Over this time, many Quest franchisees have branched out into multi-unit franchising, providing further opportunity for these business owners to grow their wealth whilst protecting their equity, and ensure financial prosperity for themselves and their families.
Quest franchisees follow the company’s proven business format franchise model which features a range of systems and online platforms that assist franchisees with everything from revenue management, to housekeeping, to keeping on top of guest reviews to managing costs to get the best business outcome. As part of this system, franchisees have access to a dedicated franchise relationship manager, who effectively acts as a business coach and provides guidance in optimising business operations to ultimately ensure the business is performing at a strong level.
For Quest Nowra franchisee James Blanchett, the opportunity to become a hospitality business owner after more than 15 years working in the hotel industry was enticing. Having worked for several global hotel brands in sales management roles, in 2013 Blanchett accepted a corporate office role with Quest Apartment Hotels, as an area sales manager. Very quickly, he could see the huge opportunity that existed with Quest to become a business owner, and the support that was available to Quest franchisees.
“Quest not only provides a very robust business format franchise, it ensures strong support mechanisms are in place for new business owners, including an excellent franchisee training program for first-time property owners that includes both classroom and practical-based learning,” Mr Blanchett says.
“Quest provides you, as a business owner, the ability to become the master of your own destiny. It provides a roadmap that has been successful for over 30 years.”
UNDERSTANDING THE BUSINESS
“To be perfectly honest, the prospect of giving up the security and benefits of being an employee, packing up our life in Sydney and relocating my young family to regional NSW to start a brand new business was a little daunting at first.
“However, the level of support that Quest provides, both to new business owners and the ongoing support as you become more established in your business, was very reassuring and made the decision a lot easier.
“They provide a monthly visit from an industry expert to ensure the business is operating at its optimal level. I’ve found these visits exceptionally useful, especially in the first instance when I understood how to run a hotel, but I didn’t understand how to own a business.
“For example, my franchise relationship manager would question me on matters such as how am I managing my finance lending? What is my relationship with the landlord like? Am I on top of my accounts receivable position and what should that look like?
“It’s those things that are outside the actual running of the hotel but sit with the ownership of the business that are new and different and can be quite daunting at first. When you are an employee you are simply doing a job in the business, but you don’t actually work on the business and it’s that support that Quest provides.”
And the best thing about being a business owner compared to being an employee?
“I’ve never had such great work-life balance. I’ve now got the ability to be far more engaged in our family life, and the local community, while still focusing on building my business,” Mr Blanchett says.
“I am able to pick my children up from school and attend their school assemblies, and as a family we go to the beach on the weekends. The lifestyle my family are leading living in the Shoalhaven is just incredible.
“It’s also given me the ability to generate more income, as I’m no longer working for a wage or a salary. The earning potential is unlimited. Instead of working towards an end-of-year bonus, I’m working towards generating true wealth for our family.”
The financial rewards since opening the Quest Nowra franchise business just over four years ago have been solid, to the extent that James Blanchett is now about to become co-franchisee of Quest Orange, due to open in the central west NSW town in late 2019.
“A mindset of growing wealth whilst protecting the equity of franchisees is something that is quite prevalent in the culture at Quest.
“Multi-unit franchising is encouraged and Quest has established a program, called the Franchisee Accelerator Program, that grooms high performing employees with aspirations to be business owners to partner with an established franchisee and become a joint franchisee of a Quest Apartment Hotels business.
“This program has enabled me to embark on being a joint franchisee of Quest Orange.”
“I’ve never had such great work-life balance. I’ve now got the ability to be far more engaged in our family life, and the local community, while still focusing on building my business.”
Although Quest proudly boasts a relatively high proportion of business owners who originally worked as employees within the Quest network, like James Blanchett, as group franchising manager David Constantinou explains, its franchisees come from all walks of life.
“Over the years, we have welcomed into the Quest network franchisees of all ages, backgrounds and experience,” Mr Constantinou says.
“We have had a myriad of hospitality professionals, some of which are young people who witnessed their parents operating motel businesses but are attracted to Quest due to the support on offer.
“However, we also have many franchisees who previously worked as accountants, teachers, travel agents, in corporate management roles, and ex-defence force personnel.”
An example of a franchisee from a non-hospitality background is Adam French, who together with wife Alison, quit a high-flying job to take on the Quest Ipswich franchise, located in Brisbane’s outer suburbs, as an established business in early 2017.
“I spent eight years working for Travelex, this role required a lot of travel and time away from my family. We decided a change was needed,” explains Mr French.
“We started looking for a business we could call our own and provide us with a better work-life balance.
“The transition on day one into the business is well structured with onsite support and guidance to ensure you can start trading without the usual distractions that would be likely without this support.
“There are a number of aspects that you are not necessarily exposed to as an employee that can seem quite daunting as you transition into becoming a business owner. We found Quest to be extremely helpful in introducing us to the various professions and service providers that were able to alleviate these uncertainties.”
“If you have the confidence to back yourself in your decision-making then you should do it. Being a business owner is not easy, but for me, the benefits have far outweighed the risks and any downsides.”
TOP OF THE RATINGS
“Quest provides you, as a business owner, the ability to become the master of your own destiny. It provides a roadmap that has been successful for over 30 years,” David Constantinou says.
The strength of Quest’s franchise model has recently been independently recognised, being awarded the first ever 5-star rating on the Australian Franchise Rating Scale™, by FRANdata Australia.
Mr Constantinou says the Quest business format franchise model demonstrates a high level of transparency and an outstanding overall level of franchise performance. He said the review team were impressed with the systems and disciplines in place that allowed Quest to measure, monitor and support a high level of performance at an individual unit level.
“With Quest enjoying strong growth across Australasia in both metropolitan and regional locations – opening anywhere between eight and 12 new properties each year – opportunities are constantly coming up for people to join Quest and start their journey to build wealth through business ownership,” Mr Constantinou says.
“Established franchisees often see a new Quest property as a way to ‘upgrade’ their business ownership status. However, sometimes this means they need to sell their existing Quest business to make the transition into the bigger, newer property.
“This results in well-performing established Quest businesses of all sizes – from 40 keys to 100 plus keys – regularly coming onto the re-sale market. These are excellent propositions for a first-time hospitality business owner,” says Mr Constantinou.
And what is the advice from existing Quest franchisees to people considering making the transition from being an employee to a hospitality business owner?
“Do it now!” says Mr Blanchett. “If you have the confidence to back yourself in your decision-making then you should do it. Being a business owner is not easy, but for me, the benefits have far outweighed the risks and any downsides.”
Despite the support and structure that Quest’s business format franchise system provides to business owners, “good ol’ fashioned hard work” is equally important in the formula.
“You have to be willing to put in a lot of hard work. First and foremost, you should put a lot of research into ensuring you select the right business, in the right location,” says Mr Blanchett.
“That’s really no different to buying any business, but if you back yourself in making that decision then the rest of it will largely fall into place, especially with excellent support systems like those provided by Quest.”
The starting investment for a Quest franchise business is around $750,000, with the average investment level being in the range of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. Business value is dependent on property location, number of keys, business performance and other factors.
If you are interested in exploring a business ownership opportunity with Quest Apartment Hotels, please visit www.questfranchising.com.au, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (in Australia) 1800 809 913.