BEAUTY means big business for Brisbane franchisees Graham and Ann Thatcher.

The franchisees of five Ella Bache stores have taken out the Franchise Council of Australia’s Award for Multi-unit Franchisees of the Year in Queensland, proving that dollars aren’t only in corporate.

The Thatchers employ more than 40 people across their CBD, Carindale and Capalaba stores, and have averaged a 12 per cent increase in growth each year since signing the papers 10 years ago.

Ann Thatcher says the business was sparked by realising a pastime could be turned into a full-time gig.

She also says the fact Ella Bache was a family business with a 50-year history was also a major drawcard when considering the franchise buy-in.

“I had always been an Ella Bache customer and had also always wanted to start my own business, but I did a lot of research before deciding on a beauty franchise,” says Thatcher.

“The idea originally dawned on me after I recognised there was no therapy-based beauty salon catering to the corporate market with suitable before and after work sessions.

“I loved that the Ella Bache brand was so established, being around for 50 years when we started, and I really liked the idea of being part of a family business that was still managed by family members.”

Thatcher says high training standards coupled with effective allocation strategies have ensured the business has thrived in a challenging retail environment, and in spite of the couple’s lack of beauty know-how.

“The fact that we did not have to be a therapist to run the business was a benefit of joining Ella Bache because it has inspired us to purposefully surround ourselves with experienced and talented therapists and salon managers,” she says.

“We have had strong year-on-year growth for the past five years even though the overall retail industry was hit pretty hard.

“We have never stopped marketing and have invested heavily in training to maintain an impeccable standard and experience in our salons.

“Technology is also being utilised in a way that enables us to operate remotely while being able to undertake travel at different times of the year.”

The Thatchers say they feel secure about their retirement down the track owing to the franchise model.

This was confirmed when Graham Thatcher quit corporate life altogether in 2007, switching from financial administration of the franchise stores to a more active role in the business.

“We opened our third location in 2007, and it was then we realised the business was something we could really grow to secure our future,” he says.

Award nominees were assessed on business planning and performance, business systems and human resources, franchise citizenship, leadership, openness to learning and change, in addition to community and environmental contribution. 

The Thatchers will now compete at a national level in October to be awarded the title of Australia’s Multi-unit Franchisee of the Year.

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