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The best ideas can often come from an ‘aha’ moment. That’s been the case for Natasha Morgan who, when she was organising her first family holiday, struggled to find a reliable alternative to busy relatives driving for half an hour to check on her house.
A little bit of research and Morgan discovered the home watch industry in the US and Canada. Six months later and My Home Watch was born.
And it’s a business idea that has won her an accolade just seven months after the business launched. Morgan was named a silver award winner in the Big Idea category of the 2017 Aus Mumpreneur awards.
The award has boosted both the company’s credibility and its branding, she says.
“It’s judged on all aspects of the business, the concept, growth, funding and development. Obviously as a big idea it needs to be scaleable, and as it’s a Mumpreneur award, the judges were interested in how we juggle toddlers and children with our business.
“It comes down to your values, and how you make it work,” she says.
As a mum herself Morgan could see the value of a flexible business for other mothers, but it’s a concept that has turned out to have broader appeal.
About 80 per cent of franchise enquiries so far have been from men - either seniors bored with retirement; tradies or hairdressers looking to get into less physically demanding work; or men whose jobs were made redundant and are now looking for something new and exciting.
The premise is simple - absent homeowners can employ My Home Watch franchisees to undertake myriad tasks, each a separately billed activity. Most popular are home checks, the mail and bin services, garden watering, and pet care.
Eighty per cent of enquiries come from pet owners and with the variety of options available, there’s an opportunity for franchisees to upsell further services.
In a link with tech company Netgear, My Home Watch is also able to offer security cameras for hire for up to three weeks as an extra level of reassurance for clients.
It’s no surprise that franchisees need above all else to be trustworthy - they will need to undergo police checks, and gain a security installation licence. Morgan’s franchisee wishlist includes traits such as liking pets and being able to work with home owners and real estate agents.
The latter could prove a particularly worthwhile source of revenue if plans to introduce a reward system for loyal real estate agents goes ahead.
Morgan knows what’s required to look after properties well after a former career caring for homes worth $15m for a well-known, high net worth family.
And to get franchisees off to a good start, in one of the 120 territories available, there’s no franchise fee to pay for the first six months.
As the business grows franchisees can employ one staff member, then have the chance to split the territories to expand further.
Morgan has so far signed two franchisees each in NSW and Victoria, and a franchisee in South Australia.