A new model for family business – the power of franchising

Rene Perkin
There’s a new way to get a family business off the ground in the 21st century – the power of franchising, says Renee Perkin (40), who launched Cash Converters Oxford Village in Hillcrest, outside Durban, this month.

“I was definitely attracted to Cash Converters by my father’s experiences,” she says. “He was national operations manager for the company until 2010, when he bought his first franchise. Now he owns the top two stores in Durban, at Greyville and Pinetown. My goal is to grab that title for my new store!”

Renee trained as a dental technician but by 2010, she was beginning to feel that these long hours were difficult with two small children and that she needed a career change anyway. A phonecall from her dad, Bruce Houghting, changed life for herself and her family.

“Dad asked me if I would consider managing his first store in Greyville, Durban, for him,” she recalls. “It was a lot more than just changing jobs. I was born and brought up in Gauteng and I had my husband and children to think about.

“But we all leapt at the chance to live beside the ocean. I hate the cold, too! So now, when I wake up to sunrise over the beach beyond our window, I bless every day that we made that decision.”
When Bruce bought his second Cash Converters franchise in Pinetown in 2013, Renee took over management of that as well.

“I’ve been looking after the admin, dealing with staff and working on the floor with customers and stock,” she says. “I’ve found it really fulfilling because there’s an art to finding a fair price that works for you and for the customer.

“You also need to create goodwill with customers and that way you build up your regulars as a basis of your clientele. I learn something new every day, even if it’s how some strange gadget works so that we can talk knowledgeably about it when we sell it on!”

The Cash Converters business model offers a lot of training on dealing with customers as well as other business issues. Renee believes that making the most of resources like this is central to succeeding as a franchisee and an excellent way to improve your business skills.
“That’s what gave me the confidence to go ahead and buy the Oxford Village franchise when the opportunity suddenly came up,” she says. “I had to decide very quickly and I’m sure I’ll never regret it. It’s a fantastic chance to develop my skills further as well as consolidating our family business within the franchise.”

Dad Bruce took care of budgets and business planning on his two stores, which Renee found a bonus when she was handling management of first one store and then a second. Now, though, she relishes the prospect of graduating to the strategic challenges that come with owning her own franchise.
“Fortunately, I can ask Dad for help if I need to,” she says. “But I believe that continuing to follow the franchise model will give me the guidance to make a success of it.”
She’s already revamping to the new store design, obtaining various licences and legalities and switching over to a new computer system.

“It’s amazing what you can achieve when you have a go!” she says. “Being part of a franchise means I’ve also had help from the regional operations manager, plus the managing director and finance director visit the stores every quarter – they’re really approachable and down to earth.

“I’m really thrilled to be in this business for myself and for my family. It’s fascinating and I’m looking forward to a great future.”