|Franchise: Cash Converters International|
Description: Pre-owned merchandise stores
Number of franchise units worldwide: 544
Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 ranking: 157
Mark Fitzpatrick isn't your average Cash Converters franchisee. While other franchisees are content with one or two locations, this 35-year-old owns five locations in Queensland and Victoria, Australia, with annual sales of more than $1 million per store.
A former engineer, Fitzpatrick bought his first store by partnering with someone who was already a prosperous Cash Converters franchisee. "I wasn't looking so much to run a secondhand recycled goods business," says Fitzpatrick. "I just wanted something successful."
Fitzpatrick's own success with the franchise comes from creating what he describes as "a unique shopping experience" that's reliant on friendly staff members. "All our stores have a strong foundation of fun," he says. "We don't just give discounts-we'll do things like make customers putt a golf ball, and if they get it in, they get a discount."
He sees the business as a composite of such ideas. "There isn't one element that makes up 100 percent of our stores' success; instead, about a hundred things each account for 1 percent of [our success]," he says. "So we're constantly looking for those '1 percent' elements. If you find enough of those, you create a business that works, yet people can't put their finger on exactly why it's working."
Even the hand of fate has been kind to Fitzpatrick. With the recent Olympic Games, his businesses experienced an extra sales boost as Sydney residents, fleeing the pandemonium of the events, took holidays in other Australian tourist spots . . . and bought from his stores.
Where does Fitzpatrick get his ideas? Some of them are gleaned from trips he's taken to visit Cash Converters franchises worldwide. The cost of the trips all came out of Fitzpatrick's pocket, but he says the techniques and strategies he's learned from international franchisees far outweigh the costs.
Fitzpatrick's greatest challenge to date was developing a way to turn sales around at his newly bought stores as quickly as possible. He combined personal trial and error with the proven Cash Converters method to come up with his own system, which he relies on to keep the distant locations running smoothly. To do this, Fitzpatrick audits and visits those distant locations every other month.
Fitzpatrick cites variety as his favorite thing about being a Cash Converters franchisee. "We have no idea what customers are going to sell us, and we have no idea what they're coming in to buy," he says. "It truly is a new experience every day."