Franchise partners wanted

Franchise partners wanted

Communications and data integrator, Commander, is introducing a network of indirect franchises as it attempts to increase its geographic presence across Australia.

Managing director, Adrian Coote, said the model was developed to improve access to its SMB products in regional areas.

"We wanted to have universal coverage in Australia, but this is prohibitively expensive to do through our direct sales outlets," he said. "We do have technical resources in regional areas that manage our systems. This presents us with an opportunity to update their commercial activity through the means of franchises."

The company set up its first pilot Commander Centre store in Launceston, Tasmania, 12 months ago.

"We had to ensure our back-end systems were appropriate and that a franchise could handle our total range of products," Coote said. "The model is good in that it offers reach and distribution, and access to entrepreneurial and hard working people. But the down side is that if it's not properly managed, it can cause damage to our name - we have to ensure that's not brought into disrepute."

He pinpointed Hobart and regional Victoria as its next targeted locations.

"We are going to where the human resources are first and where we have existing customers to support the franchise," he said.

Commander was now on the hunt for suitable candidates to run the centres. While franchises would ideally have a technician onboard, this was not a mandatory requirement, Coote said.

However, all would be required to have strong sales skills, and an in-depth understanding of its plethora of SMB products.

They range from traditional PABX key systems and voice and data networking products, through to PC systems, printers, laptops and licensing.

Locations would be rolled out consistently over the next 3-5 years. Similar to the model used by national reseller group, Leading Edge, a minimum cut-off point would be set to ensure that an area had enough customers to warrant a centre.

Coote would not disclose an overall target on the number of franchises planned. Although there was no specific funding model in place, each franchise would be eligible for a varied level of funding and its own margin structure depending on location and size, he said.

"We want to encourage flexibility," he said.

"We will have agreed sales targets, as we are KPI driven, and will review people prior to them investing in the franchise.

"Ultimately, how the franchise looks would depend on the needs of the local community."

The new initiative is the first time Commander had licensed out its name to an indirect channel, Coote said.

The company was working towards having one in four sales stem from resellers.

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