Aussie future for US brand Good Feet Store

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Inside Franchise Business: retail launch for US orthotics brandOne franchise is going feet first into the future with a business geared to improving people’s lives.

Jarrod Blamey came across the concept while travelling in America with his wife Rebecca. Plagued for years by back pain that chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments failed to resolve, he stepped into the Good Feet Store and tried the orthotics. These changed his life one step at a time - within six months, his pain had disappeared.

Unable to source the product in Australia, Blamey spotted a business opportunity. The former franchisee with home-building chain GJ Gardner tells Inside Franchise Business he took on the master franchise rights to build and develop the 30-year-old brand in Australia and New Zealand. It took four years to gain the relevant approvals and trademarks.

Wanting to start the business away from a capital city, the couple moved from Sydney to Newcastle and opened the doors to their first store in September last year.

“It’s been a good roller-coaster experience as neither of us has had experience in retail,” says Jarrod. Sales grew however, and within four months the Blameys were employing four sales people.

Good Feet orthotics are designed to provide comfort without needing to be customised. Quoting a podiatrist, Blamey asks “Why make a mould of feet that aren’t performing?”. He likens the orthotic approach to dental braces that shape teeth - “it’s about training feet into an ideal position”.

Costs are on par with custom-made orthotics, and there are 25 styles across 300 sizes.

Blamey says it is an intensive service, with the franchise best suited to individuals prepared to spend time helping customers, and in the fitting process find out what activities they like, their preference in shoe style and their pain points.

It can take an hour to go through the fitting, and post-purchase there are three follow-up phone calls to ensure the customer is using the orthotics correctly.

An ideal franchisee would be 40 years or older, empathetic, perhaps ex-corporate, and may have experienced back pain themselves, says Blamey.

Core demographic

Customers of any age can benefit from the service, but the core demographic is 39- to 59-year-olds who spend their working lives on their feet - typically in retail, hospitality, nursing or the mining industry.

Blamey predicts a maximum of 30 stores around Australia (maybe eight in Sydney), with up to six outlets across New Zealand. A franchise will cost up to $250,000.

One current outlet for the orthotics, which is outside the store network, is the cruise business, with the brand’s entry-level products being promoted and sold at sea by cruiseline spa staff.

“This serves as an introduction to the product range, and happy customers tend to upgrade their orthotics after a year,” says Blamey.

Because of the product’s personal element, orthotics cannot be successfully sold online, he says.

The benefit of a former franchisee taking on the development of a franchise brand is understanding what is involved in a successful franchise relationship. Blamey points to the experience of helping franchisees grow their businesses as the main lesson from his time with GJ Gardner.

“It’s about working with franchisees closely to grow with them, keep them motivated, educating them. And marketing the brand. It’s more about the brand than us - the brand is more powerful."

Sarah Stowe

Sarah Stowe heads up the editorial in the Inside Franchise Business group at Octomedia. Sarah is a hands-on editor who has worked in consumer and B2B titles in UK and Australia and she has been editor of the View More...
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