November 15, 2012 // Franchising.com // In 2005, CEO of G.J. Gardner Homes, Darren Wallis, packed his suitcase and left Australia with a plan to expand his successful homebuilding company into the United States.
With no contacts, map and limited knowledge of the United States property market, Wallis said it was one of the most challenging times of his career but the risk of trying his luck in America has definitely paid off.
In the 2011/12 financial year, profits in the United States exceeded $6 million—a 25 per cent increase to gross revenue—proving that G.J. Gardner Homes’ unique franchise model has been just as successful in America as it has been in Australia and New Zealand.
“We always said we’d have a massive party when we built our first home in America, but that rolled through and now we’ve built about 100 houses this year,” Wallis said.
Despite the nation-wide decline in the United States home-building market, G.J. Gardner Homes has rapidly grown to have 16 franchise locations operating in California, 10 in Colorado, two in Texas and at least six more opening across the country by the end of the year.
G.J. Gardner Homes is also the only Australian company to have successfully started up a residential property franchise in the United States market—a market that is said to be the worst property building market in history.
“During the Global Financial Crisis, the phones stopped ringing and it felt like everyone and everything went silent—but we were still able to keep afloat,” Wallis said.
And despite G.J. Gardner Homes’ strong position in the United States today, Wallis said the GFC was just one of the challenges he faced with the expansion and it was definitely harder than first expected.
“Every day was a challenge and although there aren’t obvious cultural differences between Australia and America, they do exist,” Wallis said.
“The accent and language differences were surprisingly one of the biggest challenges.
“I tried to start talking with an American accent during meetings with potential franchisees so they could understand me and I had to be mindful of using Australian slang that didn’t translate.”
Language differences aside, Wallis said American builders warmly welcomed the franchise opportunities with G.J. Gardner Homes, recognizing the benefits of being a part of a stable, supported and secure business that has a safety net of other experienced builders within reach.
In the past year, sales have nearly doubled in Colorado and master offices have opened in Indiana, New England and Texas. Affirming G.J. Gardner Homes’ success in the United States, The Franchising Times named G.J. Gardner Homes the third fastest growing franchise worldwide.
“My main focus for the future is to expand the business both domestically and internationally, predominantly across the United States, with projections of up to 300 to 400 active G.J. Gardner Homes stores over the next 10 years,” Wallis said.
“I still pinch myself about the success of G.J. Gardner Homes in the United States and I am looking forward to growing the business further as we welcome many more members of the American homebuilding community to the G.J. Gardner Homes family.”
G.J. Gardner Homes has built a reputation as the new homebuilder you can trust. G.J. Gardner Homes originated back in 1983 on the Sunshine Coast, when Greg Gardner realised the need for building quality homes on time and on budget.
Greg grew the company to eight regional offices with 65 office staff and 65 sales staff, building as many as 1000 custom homes a year. G.J. Gardner Homes traded successfully with an established reputation for great value and quality. On this basis, Greg made the decision to turn G.J. Gardner Homes into a building franchise, as a means to give his key people a share of the business.
The first G.J. Gardner Homes building franchise commenced operations in May 1995. Today, there are currently more than 100 G.J. Gardner Homes building franchises operating throughout Australia, New Zealand and America, supported by 8 Master Franchises.
G.J. Gardner Homes has been successfully building different homes for different people for twenty-five years and has now built over 20,000 homes worldwide. The product offering is built around the proposition that people are individuals and have unique local requirements therefore G.J. Gardner Homes are designed to enable consumers to customise them to suit local and personal requirements.
G.J. Gardner Homes designs are innovative and localised, and are created to be just as diverse as any given franchise area. In Australia the team of G.J Gardner Homes builders have won over 100 Housing Industry of Australia, and Master Builders' Association awards around the country, ranging from 'Best Display Home' to 'Best Finished Home'.
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