13/08/2009 - 00:00

Growth in mobile services

13/08/2009 - 00:00

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AFTER 20 years in the job, Rosal Mullins became disillusioned with her role as a nurse.

Growth in mobile services

AFTER 20 years in the job, Rosal Mullins became disillusioned with her role as a nurse.

With two young children and a husband with his own career, Mrs Mullins was looking to become self-employed with flexible working hours.

Her husband, Paul, read about a mobile coffee business in a magazine and liked the idea, so the couple travelled to Sydney to meet its creator.

Convinced of the potential on offer, they decided to bring the business concept back to Perth, but design it differently to give operators more room to work and provide better protection from the weather.

"Initially I had bought a coffee cart business that didn't have the goodwill it was supposed to, so I was stuck with a business loan, five coffee carts, and no work; I had to return to nursing to meet repayments, while trying to find work for them," Mrs Mullins told WA Business News.

Undeterred by the initial setback, Mrs Mullins restructured the business model and, in 2002, turned the struggling mobile coffee business into a franchise and Kiss Cafe was born.

The business now has 11 operators across the Perth metropolitan area.

Mrs Mullins is one of a growing number of people to join the mobile service industry, which is particularly prevalent in the franchise sector.

Franchise Council of Australia chief executive Steve Wright said the mobile service industry was booming because people were becomingly increasingly time-poor, meaning there was a market for such services.

A 2008 Franchise Council of Australia survey revealed mobile services made up 29 per cent of all franchise operations in Australia, with 81 per cent of mobile and home-based franchisees working in the non-retail sector, which included lawn-mowing, domestic cleaning and bookkeeping.

Franchisee Joanna Barile, who left Midland Brick after 13 years to join Kiss Cafe, said she liked the mobile cafe concept because it offered flexible working hours.

Another to start her own business is Sarah Swift, who launched Western Australia's first Xpresso Delight franchise in November 2008 and has achieved a monthly turnover of $10,000 working a 32-hour week.

Franchise Business Australia online account manager, Raffael Fernandes, said there had been a spike in mobile franchises in recent years as more people looked for work that provided flexibility and suited their family lifestyle.

There is no shortage of mobile franchise systems in WA, including: mobile dog washing franchise Aussie Pooch; car washing service Ecowash Mobile; vehicle maintenance provider Car Care; hairstylist Mobile Snips; and coffee vendors Espresso Mobile Cafe and Café2U.

There is an initial investment to start most mobile franchises, with Kiss Cafe costing about $35,000 and Café2U up to $250,000, while it costs $35,000 to start Aussie Pooch.

Café2U was this year listed 10th on the BRW Fast Franchises list with 80 franchisees in Australia and nearly 50 in the UK, a 57 per cent increase in the three years to June 30 2008.

In May, Café2U chief executive Andy Simpkin turned his attention to WA, launching two franchises and a start-up package to ensure new franchisees hit the ground running from day one.

The package attempts to fast-track the business launch by three months, allowing franchisees to reach a high level of daily sales quickly, with Mr Simpkin guaranteeing the franchise's income for the first two weeks.

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