Building an innovative global franchise is a process of perpetual reinvention. Whether it’s expanding your product line or refreshing your brand, the best franchises are the ones that can move with the times. Having helped Trend Transformations conquer continents and find a whole new identity, there are few better placed than Danny Hanlon, the franchise’s chief operating officer, to understand why the most successful franchises are those that embrace change.
Having come from a military family, Hanlon is certainly no stranger to life on the move: when he was a child, his father’s position as a captain in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers saw him moving every two years and changing schools nine times. “It was always a challenge,” he admits. “Just when you’ve made a new group of friends, you move and you’ve got to find a new one.” By the time Hanlon reached his teenage years, his father had left the army so the family settled in Perth in Western Australia. And this gave Hanlon some time to think about his future career. “I always wanted to be a carpenter,” he says. “My grandfather had done it years before and I had a passion for it.”
By the time Hanlon graduated, he had already started to look at apprenticeships that would allow him to work with wood. “I got a position as a cabinet maker with Associated Shopfitters, the largest shopfitting firm in Perth,” he says. During his second year on the apprenticeship he was brought into an office role, something that saw him measuring sites, liaising with architects and working side-by-side with the site foreman. It was while doing this that he began to see there was a big disconnect between those on the floor and management. “It was quite an easy thing to fix: you just had to get people together, get them communicating and build a team,” he says. “But while I tried my best to change things, it just didn’t come together.”
In light of this, Hanlon began to look for opportunities elsewhere and came across a job ad for a fledgling kitchen resurfacing business founded by childhood friends Colin Mackenzie and Bob Smith, which at the time was called Granite Transformations. “They had wanted to start a business together and the home-remodelling industry was really taking off in the Australian market,” Hanlon says. Coming across an agglomerate floor tile, the duo realised that if they could get the material produced in large enough sizes, it would offer them a fast and attractive way to renovate customers’ kitchen surfaces without doing a full refit. “They could apply an engineered stone made up of either granite, quartz or porcelain directly over existing kitchen counters,” Hanlon explains. “Rather than customers having to go through the hassle of a complete tear out, they could come in and renovate the worktop in one day.”
When Hanlon turned up for an interview in a premises that was “less like a showroom and more like a shed”, Mackenzie and Smith explained that they wanted him to handle the installation process but they could only afford to take him on as a subcontractor. Whilst this meant he would have to front A$10,000 to buy the tools and van he needed, the pair’s ambition won him over. “They said: ‘Once we’ve proved the model works here, we’re going to franchise it and take it to America and Europe’,” Hanlon recalls. “‘If you join us right now, you’ll have the opportunity to grow with the business.'”