Outside the U.S, Australia is the country with the most franchise units and owners in the world. Behind this industry of entrepreneurs, there’s a driving force led by individuals like Simon Beaty, Managing Director of Snooze.
In the early 70s, then called Capt’n Snooze, they were one of the nation’s first bedroom specialist stores. They were also one of the first retailers to franchise in Australia. Starting with a single store in Melbourne, they used a unique business model and focus that allowed them to quickly grow to 5 stores across Victoria by the mid-70s.
In 1992 Capt’n Snooze acquired a Queensland bedding franchise called Bedpost, which made it a national brand across Australia. In 2002 it became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Freedom Group, which shortly after was acquired by Steinhoff International, one of the top furniture retailers in the world. In 2006, shortly before Simon joined the team, a rebranding saw the company drop the Capt’n and become Snooze. “I joined in 2008 when the brand was a bit flat, it hit a plateau and needed a reinvigoration which I was asked to accomplish. Today we have 76 stores across Australia with a great presence and buying power.” States Simon.
Offering beds, bedroom furniture and products, Snooze is now one of the markets larger specialty retailer. Snooze offers two unique elements to their customers, the first being bedMATCH. “We want to help take the guesswork out of mattress shopping, so this tool is a mattress evaluation exclusive to our stores.” Says Simon. This tool allows customers to lay on a test bed in store. A computerized system then takes a number of measurements and prints a profile along with a list of mattresses in the store that may better suit the customer’s needs. Simon advises, “This solves the issue of having 40+ options by filtering them down to just a few more suitable options, a very popular element.”
Their second unique element, is a bed building tool dubbed bedBUILDER. This tool is not only available in store, but also online via Snooze’s website. From the comfort, or should we say discomfort of their own bed, this tool gives customers the ability to access a large number of variations. They are able to mix and match options such as headboards, legs, storage, bases and even fabric. Providing the flexibility to customize the appearance of their bed, customers can bring their design to life in store and order exactly what they create. This amazing tool is now also found in store. Customers are provided an iPad and in Snooze’s customize section, are able to sit back, relax and create their dream bed with no pressure. “We offer more then beds off the shelf. We’re a retailer that doesn’t just say it’s this or nothing or we offer it or don’t. We allow customers to create what they want and they can order just that.” States Simon.
Snooze doesn’t just focus on consumer elements, but also provides its franchise partners with tools to help them succeed. For starters, Snooze has been in the market for over 40 years and has demonstrated a solid and well established business platform. “We have a business format that is successful. We’re also accredited with the ANZ and National Banks. They understand what we can offer which eases the finance opportunity for a new partner.” Explains Simon. In addition to the banks, Snooze is also able to offer vendor financing to the right candidates. With Snooze being such a large size, they are able to offer effective and competitive advertising to drive interest and opportunity for partners nationwide. “We are at the forefront of the industry, offering our franchise partners leading products as well as retail and business support so they can maximize their business potential.” States Simon. New partners are provided in store and classroom training to better understand what the Snooze model is about. Simon proudly adds, “We are also very pleased to see a number of partners coming from within the business, which includes staff that see the value in the business as well as existing partners taking on additional stores.”
Snooze offers top mattress brands such as Sealy and Tempur. They also have exclusive mattress brands such as the popular Slumberland and Madison. Incorporating these products in their bedMATCH tool, Simon says, “We try to make it an enjoyable experience while letting the consumer be in control and understand what’s available, so they can easily make the right choice for them.” With the rapidly changing retail market, Simon advises it’s interesting to see how retailers will adapt to the change and he ensures Snooze will use technology for the customers benefit. “Consumers aren’t in the market for new bedroom furniture and products very often and lack knowledge of the industry. We continue to use new tools and methods to ensure the consumers make an informed decision, as we help take the guesswork out of the purchase.” States Simon.
Throughout the decades Snooze’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2013 they won the national Top Franchise Award. “We wanted to know how franchise partners felt about us and started with surveys. In the early days satisfaction was pretty low but we diligently went about looking at how we can support and value our partners more.” Says Simon. Snooze has consistently been rated within the top 10 franchises in Australia. The bi-annual ranking has most recently positioned Snooze 5th, while they have been rated 1st for passion. The Victorian Web Awards crowned the company’s website as the 2013 Website of The Year. “We are very proud about how we present the brand online and our website is easy and informative.” Advised Simon. He then stated that one of their proudest achievements is seeing current employees move on to owning their own stores, which is a testament to their strength and viability.
Snooze used to focus specifically on one children’s charity, but have now found themselves allocating a certain percentage of their budget for various community and individual support. “Due to the number of the ad-hoc request for donations, we now take them on board as they are presented to us. I think this has worked well for us because not only do we feel good about being able to move from one opportunity to another, but we can assist people with a measured framework.” Explains Simon.
Getting to their position of being one of the top franchises in Australia was also due to their strong relationships within the industry. “The Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) is the body that everyone is looking to. When I joined in 2008 Snooze wasn’t a member of the council, as they predominantly focused on driving their business.” States Simon. Looking to contribute and get feedback from the council as things change in the industry, Snooze joined the council shortly after. Another important relationship for Snooze would be with their suppliers. Simon explains, “We have a range of suppliers from local manufacturers to importers. We try to develop as many exclusive arrangements as we can. It’s important to ensure suppliers are partnering with us and helping develop the business. If they understand what our overall objectives are, they can benefit out of the relationship and that’s where the longevity of the relationship comes from.”
Simon started his retail career in 1979 when he joined a small independent manufacturer who had a single retail store. Fleececraft Industries looked to open a second retail store, giving Simon the opportunity to move from a salesperson to store manager. He eventually became General Manager, not only of the retail division but manufacturing as well. In 1987, he joined Solomons Carpets, which was his first involvement in a franchise business. Then being the largest carpet retailer in Australia, Simon went from managing a small number of stores in Victoria to ending his tenure as their National Logistics Manager with a national distribution centre in Melbourne servicing three states on a daily basis. He then moved on to a new opportunity with Clark Rubber, where he owned two stores himself. Eventually being responsible for over 40 staff, he also helped the company reach a turnover in excess of $100 million after they re-launched as a franchise gaining over 80 stores nationally. “I was very involved in designing and documenting their business model and became the Director of Operations.” Says Simon. After a 12 year stint with Clark Rubber, he joined Healthy Habits in 2007 as their General Manager. In 2008 Simon joined Snooze where he was offered the role of Managing Director.
With their continuing success, Simon ensures Snooze still has an aggressive growth strategy in place. “We still haven’t reached our full potential and there’s a lot of opportunity for new franchise stores and partners.” States Simon. “We will be looking to drive the business as aggressively as we can. We are still looking to grow, expand and provide a better opportunity to our consumers.” Continues Simon. Snooze isn’t a franchise to be slept on, pun intended. The company is still very active and excited to continue to be a leader in the franchising industry. Being part of the grassroots of the industry, they are now looking to grow in different directions and be beneficial for all those who are lucky to be part of their model.