Exclusive Interview: Gutter-Vac Founder, Warren Bannatyne
An Australian Franchisor Interview
Franchisors name: Warren Ballantyne
Name of franchise: Gutter-Vac
Warren Ballantyne is the founder, owner and managing director of Gutter-Vac – the world’s first and largest gutter cleaning franchise; revolutionising the gutter cleaning industry.
Warren invented and developed the gutter vacuuming technology in 1995 and commenced franchising in 2000. Gutter-Vac now has around 80 franchises across all Australian States and Territories and is expanding its franchise system into North America (launch was July 2016).
Warren is also the founder, owner and managing director of Ballantyne Safety – a height safety concept that was created by Warren in 1995 to compliment the Gutter-Vac operating system.
Tell us about how/when the business was started and the motivation behind establishing the company.
The business was started in 1995, the motivation was from an increasing demand for gutter cleaning which at the time was by hand, the danger of cuts, and spiders and snakes were a deciding factor to developed vacuum equipment.
When and why did you decide to go down the franchise route?
At the time we thought this will be easy just sell a dozen franchises collect the royalty and just play golf, what could go wrong. (That is why we did it)
What have been the company’s biggest achievements/successes to date so far?
To be stubbornly persistent and develop a business model and industry that did not exit before Gutter-Vac, to make work a business model everyone said “it will never work” From this business develop a safety system and equipment that also did not exist before Ballantyne Safety and so provide workers with equipment that will save their lives and eliminate wheel chair incidents. This has been an exciting ride.
What challenges have you had to overcome?
Mainly doing everything under funded, poor cash flow.
What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?
Now we use social and digital virtually exclusively.
What differentiates Gutter-Vac from the competition?
In our immediate circle of competitors (gutter cleaning) our difference is systems, discipline, procedures, thorough training, system, systems, and systems.
In your opinion, what makes a successful Gutter-Vac franchisee?
Usually a home team that buy the business with their hearts not their head.
What changes have you seen in your industry over recent year? And how have you adapted to them?
Virtually all changes in our industry have been introduced and initiated by Gutter-Vac, our core values of honesty and great customer service have never changed.
What does the future hold for Gutter-Vac?
What expansion plans have you got nationally and internationally?
We have just over 30 territories left to sell in Australia, we have a partnership in the USA and have a further 1500 territories to sell, we are currently negotiating a Master Licence agreement for the UK for the potential 200 outlets.
What advice would you give to someone considering franchising their business?
Ask those who should know the answers and ask one million questions.
If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?
Yes, I would ask the one million questions!Request information on franchise ownership of Gutter-Vac franchise