Having first tried his hand at car salesmanship, he eventually found himself working with a shipping company – leading him towards his future franchisor role. “This was probably in 1999 or in the early 2000s,” Butler remembers. “The internet had started but in the shipping industry it was a bit archaic, it was still way behind industries like banking and insurance.” This lack of innovation in the sector eventually presented him with the key insight required to launch his own enterprise. “The idea behind World Options was to be able to give small to medium-sized businesses [the same] treatment as large companies,” he explains. So why didn’t SMEs get the same red carpet service larger firms did? “It’s the economy of scale,” answers Butler. Essentially, it boiled down to one simple fact – it would cost large carriers and shipping companies too much to give each and every smallbusiness leader the same attention that larger companies got. Therefore they’d rather opt to focus on clients shipping large quantities than small ones. “So I thought, ‘hold on a minute Stewart, there’s a hole in the marketplace here,’” he remembers. The thought didn’t leave him alone. And as Butler pondered over it, he
realised how a shipping service for SMEs could make a lot of money. “I went home that night and I said to my wife, ‘I’ve got an idea’ and she was like ‘okay, tell me,’” Butler recalls. Over the next few hours he explained his brainwave by drawing it on a white board and answering all of her questions. Eventually, his wife gave her thumbs up to launch the business. “I remember [how] she said ‘right Stewart, it’s three o’clock in the morning, you’ve got my blessing, I’m going to bed’ and that was all I needed,” he says. With his wife on board, Butler leaped into action. The first item on his to-do list was to secure funding for the enterprise. But despite bringing charts, cashflow projections, SWOT analysis and everything else needed in a solid business plan, the bank required some more convincing. While Butler recognised the reluctance to lend to an untested venture, he asked the bank manager to have some faith. “And he answered ‘I cant give you the money based on faith,’” Butler remembers. Refusing to abandon his idea, the budding entrepreneur pressed on and eventually managed to persuade the financial institution that his endeavour was worth betting on. Armed with the bank loan and having remortgaged his
home, Butler had almost everything he needed to launch World Options. The last piece of the puzzle snapped into place when he found his cofounder. “Andrew has always been a good friend of mine,” says Butler. “I’ve known him for a number of years.” Not only was Jackson highly skilled at the operational side of doing business but their wives were also very close friends. So when Jackson heard that Butler was setting up a company of his own, he wanted to be part of it. “He’s a really good guy,” says Butler. Together, the two of them, their wives and an administrator became World Options' initial workforce. Backed by this team, Butler soon made his first deal and continued to exceed everything he’d promised the bank manager. “We smashed all expectations,” he says. And the more World Options’ reputation spread, the bigger the company got. Six months after the launch in 2003, it had outgrown its first office. But the impressive rate of scale didn’t come by itself. “It was really hard work,” Butler says. “It was blood, sweat and tears.” As the years went by, the founders contemplated new ways of growing the business. And that’s how they began floating the idea of franchising World Options. “We knew we had something that was very different, unique and unusual but we needed the footfall of a franchise network to create critical mass,” Butler explains. Franchising the company made sense for a number of reasons. Firstly, it would boost the business’ talent retention. Most salespeople at the company only stayed for a few years. So franchising would give experienced salespeople reasons to stay on as franchisees, minimising the time wasted on training new staff. Moreover, establishing franchisees who understood the local area and the trials and tribulations of its SMEs would enable World Options to nurture strong and long-lasting relationships better than before. “The franchise network is almost like having a mum and pop store, allowing us to give that special one-to-one treatment to customers,” Butler says.
20 elitefranchise | DECEMBER 2018 2017
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