My name is Brian Keen and having worked in the franchise sector for over 30 years, I believe franchising offers one of the most exciting business models around for anyone looking to create real wealth and financial independence for themselves.
I was brought up in London just after the war in a world of rationing and very hard work. I had my first job helping the milkman when I was just 10 and went on to work in men’s fashion retail and run a weekend market stall while still at school.
I left college as a quantity surveyor but it was not long before I became bored with an office life dealing with the detail of building plans.
So I emigrated to Africa to see what the world offered. Moving to Malawi in Central Africa, I opened my first business, a building company when I was 25 and within three years had added a swimming pool, company a transport operation and a tools and machinery import business to my portfolio.
It was there I met and married my business partner and wife Prue.
By the mid 70’s we sadly decided that we needed to move again and selected Australia. We had to leave everything behind and arrived as near penniless migrants in Fremantle in 1975, where it did not take long for me to again build my own businesses in building contracting and property development.
Many of you will know what happened in the 80’s – interest rates rose to unforeseen heights and so I looked for other areas to trade.
This was when I first saw the massive potential for franchising to create a successful business – fast – after opening and operating seven stores in just five years as a franchisee for Bedshed.
With the knowledge I gained there, I went on to set up The Franchise Alliance, a consultancy and broking business which was soon operating in five states and New Zealand helping household names like Brumby’s, Ultratune, Jim’s Mowing and Donut King develop successful sales strategies and franchise systems. The Franchise Alliance is still going strong under new ownership today.
I also used those same strategies and systems myself to build up six franchise groups as a franchisor, with over 120 outlets between them.
Based on this depth of experience, I’ve since helped many dozens of businesses franchise successfully, increasing their profits and allowing their owners to retake control of their lives by working fewer hours. I realized my passion – to help business owners become more successful and lead the lives they dream of with their families.
The companies I have worked with have increased in value to an estimated $1.29 billion and have added 6676 outlets in the time I have known them.
In 2009 I retired and moved to the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. Remembering my time in Africa, and the wonderful people I worked with in my businesses there, I decided to look for ways to help them to become successful in business too. So when I came across the MicroLoan Foundation in the UK, I approached them to see if I could set up a ‘franchise’ here in Australia, and so MicroLoan Foundation Australia was born.
MicroLoan Foundation is a very different kind of charity, offering hope, not handouts. By providing small loans (Average A$50) and ongoing business training and support, MicroLoan empowers women in rural Malawi to set up self-sustainable businesses. The profits from these businesses enable the women to work themselves and their families out of poverty.
Needless to say, retirement did not really suit me. So it did not take long for me to decide to bring all my knowledge together in my latest venture, ‘How to Franchise Simply’, with the aim of showing business owners how to transform a family-sized firm into a multi-million dollar asset through a unique 4D System. The System gives you either a traditional Done For You option or you can choose a Self-Paced version which is a cost effective way to franchise saving you tens of thousands of dollars in consultancy fees in the process.
So you can see, I have 40 years’ experience nationally and overseas as a business owner and company director, primarily focusing on business growth, particularly sales and marketing in the franchising industry.
Today, together with my wife and business partner Prue I live on the Gold Coast, Queensland. Our two daughters have grown and live in different parts of the world.