How I became part of the most successful Tool Retailer in Australia

Craig McDonald

Total Tools Epping Franchisee, Craig McDonald, gives us an insight about how he came to become a Franchisee,  how he made the transition from supplier to business owner and his experience so far as part of Total Tools network of Franchisees:

“I had worked within the industry for over 25 years, having spent almost 20 years with a major supplier to the group in Sutton Tools servicing the Total Tools account. Following a serious medical condition encountered in 2003 and at the cross roads, my wife Jackie and I questioned our direction and after a great deal of consideration, we decided that we had always harboured a desire to run our own business.

It’s funny how things pan out and you would think that having previously established a rival buying group within the industry that we would have chosen to go down this track. However when weighing up all the options, there was only one logical path and that was to join Total Tools. It was not a decision taken lightly and the process a long one when compared to what’s on offer today, however it was blatantly obvious that the Total Tools Group had the overall package, the disciplines, industry credibility, the relationships and camaraderie. Equally as important, even then in its original raw form, they had the “Recipe” for a successful franchise opportunity.

 The decision was a logical, yet daunting one and in August 2005 we opened the first “Model Store” for the Total Tools Group. The benefits were all there: Consolidated Purchasing, Competitive Trading Terms, Core Ranging, the Marketing Program and our own

Private Brand Program. The recipe had been formalised over a period of 16 years of hardship, experience and learnings, however this pales in comparison to the refinement of the franchise model,  the recipe and the level of support as it stands today.

I know it sounds like a bit of the old “back in my day” and it is, all that was left for us to do was to put it all on the line, follow the recipe and ultimately “Bake the Cake”. We’re now nine years down the track and have seen the opportunity blossom and grow into the country’s most successful Specialist Tool Retailer.”

 Craig McDonald, Total Tools Epping Franchisee

Having strong partnerships with Suppliers is all part of our Successful Business Model

We would like to thank Glenn Waites – the National Business Manager, Stanley Black & Decker who we recently interviewed on the success of Total Tools, why relationships are so important between the retailer and supplier and why the Total Tools Franchise model works so well.

As our CEO Tim Cockayne mentioned in his recent interview with The CEO Magazine, “It is about making sure that we have the right team here who understand that it is a partnership. Retail has changed a lot. I’ve been in retail for 25 years, and retail 25 years ago was about getting the best deal and thumping the table – and that doesn’t work anymore. It’s about making sure you’ve got people who align with what does work, which is working in partnership”

It is also this comradery between Total Tools and its suppliers that has resulted in a number of suppliers recognising the potential business model, but also wanting to be part of its fantastic culture, and buy into a Total Tools Franchise.

“One of the greatest testaments to Total Tools Industrial in the early days was their tenacity when dealing with suppliers, seeing them constantly punching above their weight division as their trading terms often belied their turnover. This has always been achieved on the back of their credibility, internal and external disciplines and their comradery, which has definitely been the envy of the industry.” Craig McDonald (Franchisee – Epping and Board Member)

So here is our interview with Glenn, a passionate, boisterous man who has over 20 years’ experience in the industry. He has been fortunate enough to work on both sides of the fence both in senior positions for large Australian retailers and some iconic brands in the industry. It is through this experience, Glenn has a deep understanding of what constitutes a successful business model. He is so passionate about what he does you can’t help but get excited about Total Tools and everything it represents.

If you were looking at investing in a Total Tools Franchise, what aspects of the business model would be the most attractive to you?

There are so many aspects that impress me about Total Tools. The number one would have to be its people, everyone who works at Total Tools is approachable, down to earth and humble. It is great to see they have stuck to their model as a Tool Specialist and it is so obvious to me and other suppliers that it works, it makes money and provides an amazing lifestyle opportunity for its franchisees. I am also very impressed with the quality, look and feel of the Catalogue Program.


When there is a store opening, what role do you and your representatives play in the setup, grand opening and first few months trading?

It is very important that we are there from the beginning. Each new store is given a ‘blue print’ as part of the setup process and that includes us meeting the new franchisees. Some areas we discuss are product information, service and warranty information, stock turn expectations and point of sale. We go into the stores and set up the stock to ensure that the retail footprint provides the best possible return for the franchisee.

Stanley Display

Total Tools Thebarton


Vince, Paul (Franchisee at Total Tools Warners Bay) & Glenn

How does the relationship you have with the franchisees impact the success of your role?

The relationships I have with the individual franchisees are very important to how I run my business. If they gain confidence in our brands and myself from the outset then they are going to find selling our products much easier. This also flows through to their staff and the customer service they can offer.

How does your relationship with Total Tools head office impact your business?

Due to the transparency and honesty that we have at all levels in the business, we are able to work through any issues and enjoy all the successes we have together. Don’t get me wrong, Total Tools are aggressive in their negotiations, but we always walk away happy with the outcome.

What role do you see Social Media playing in today’s market?

It is in this space where you will find the new generation tradie. It is very important that we all embrace it and recognise the power it represents.


What other aspects of Total Tool’s marketing interest you?

I think the Insiders Program is very powerful. It is a great platform for both Total Tools and the supplier to reach the customer and reward them for their loyalty. In some cases you will get customers travelling more than an hour to attend an Insiders nights. There will be queues, hundreds of people all of which creates a real buzz for everyone. I believe this is one of the few loyalty programs that actually works.

Insiders Night

How do you think the culture of Total Tools impacts your business and the success of Total Tools?

I believe that there is a real internal heartbeat that is at the core of this business. It all started with a group of guys who had a vision and passion and it is amazing to see that this is still strong today. If we have an idea we can go to a core group of original store owners and get honest feedback as to whether it will work or not. I like to refer to this group as the ‘Godfathers’ of Total Tools. They are there to support and encourage new franchisees as well franchisees who have been around for a while. It is not uncommon for one of them to travel to a new store interstate at their own expense, roll up their sleeves and help with training or store fit-outs. They want the same success for every franchisee that they have experienced and I think this is a great thing for the group and the brand. It can only lead to more growth and success for everyone.

“CULTURE – it is a term often used, Geelong are said to have it because they win Grand Finals, St Kilda don’t because they win nothing. The remark is often made about the culture in Total Tools. I believe that we are lucky to start with a group of selfless individuals who bonded together as friends, they were and still are prepared and happy to share knowledge and experience good and bad and time and effort when required for the betterment of the individual and the group. While that continues throughout the group we all prosper.”         Gerry Smith (Franchisee – Ferntree Gully)


Finally, what advice would you give to a new Total Tools Franchisee?

My advice for any new prospective or new franchisee would be to do your homework. Learn about the industry and understand the retail model. I believe that building up your insiders’ database (loyalty program) is your number one priority when it comes to marketing. The program itself works very well, but the more customers you have on it the quicker you will grow. Thirdly I would call on the experience of the current franchisees and partner up with a mentor. There are so many lessons to be learned in any new business, but if you have someone by your side who has experienced them you will be able to work through them together.

If you would like to learn more about the Total Tools franchise model and how this business can offer you great profit returns and an amazing lifestyle, why not complete our Expression of Interest Form today

A new business and ‘sea change’ make for an exciting future

To find out how you can own a Total Tools Franchise, complete your Expression of Interest Here.

It is time for us to check in with Val and Kerrie, and see how their new business venture with Total Tools is progressing and how they are enjoying their new life in Mackay.

Late last year we wrote about Val Gorman and Kerrie Wilson at their ‘Discovery Day’ at our Head Office, and their decision to embark on a journey that has changed their life for the positive. This decision has resulted in a very exciting future for them as a couple, but also for their four beautiful children. You can read about the beginning of their story here.


photo 1(Store Front panoramic)Mackay_-_Hero_Image

Here is an update on their life prior to getting to where they are today.

Val has been involved in the industry for over 20 years; starting his career as a first class body maker in the automotive industry. He then joined forces with his father starting a very successful business in the civil and construction industry. Their business was engaged in substantial building projects across Australia, employing over 30 people. Kerrie has also had an interesting career which resulted in her being a successful hotelier for the past ten years. With a background in administration and accounts, Kerrie owned and operated a number of hotels in regional Victoria. Individually, they have both run very successful businesses, but it was now time for them to create a business opportunity for themselves as a couple.

Val has been a regular customer of Total Tools for many years now – Total Tools Carrum Downs was his local store. He got to know how the store operated and discovered through being a loyal customer the opportunities the business model could offer. A number of years ago, Val approached Total Tools about setting up a new store, at the time the business was not set up as a franchise model. A number of years later, Val approached Total Tools again and this time there were a number of premium territories available. After discussions with Total Tools about the territories that were available in Victoria they also investigated other options that were available in other states. Mackay was one location that was discussed and Val and Kerrie “decided on a whim to fly up to Mackay, a place they had never visited” said Kerrie, to see if this is where their future and dreams could come to life.

photo 1 (Erwin Supplier, Kerrie and Val)

Kerrie and Val meeting with their new Erwin Supplier discussing product ranges

Mackay situated in the Whitsunday region of Queensland is approximately 970km’s north of Brisbane. The region supports various industries, but mining and sugar cane farming are the largest. As the major regional service centre, Mackay is positively impacted by developments throughout the entire region. It also has a growing tourism industry with beautiful tropical islands and 31 sandy beaches. Mackay is also a growing city, attracting more and more ‘southerners’ drawn to the area by the promise of sunshine, warmth and relaxed family living.


Fast forward two years to today; Val and Kerrie are now drawing closer to opening their first Total Tools store. There have been some delays in getting to this point with issues around developers, but it was worth the wait. Their new store is perfectly located in a busy retail hub which should bring in a lot of foot traffic. Local community groups and businesses have been very responsive to Total Tools opening up in Mackay. Many have already reached out to them and the local media outlets, like television, radio and newspapers are all looking forward to covering their story when they open.

photo 3(panoramic inside store)

The experience of becoming a Total Tools franchisee and setting up your first store is an exciting time. There are always unexpected events that only make you grow as a person and a business owner. Total Tools have been a great support. “One of the key reasons we bought into a Total Tools franchise was the strong Head Office support” said Kerrie. It was also important to be part of a national brand. “We have been given a comprehensive working schedule which keeps you on track” recalls Kerrie.

Kerrie and Val have also had some nice support from fellow Queensland store owners. Val has conducted his training in Cooper Plains and the girls from Brendale have been a great support to Kerrie. “There is always someone who can answer your questions” says Kerrie, which is very important in the set up phase of your business. The team from Biggera Waters are also going to help out with the store fit out. It is great to see that other store teams are willing to pitch in and help out where needed. This is very reflective of the culture you will find at Total Tools.

Total Tools Mackay

The prospect of developing a business that will return a good profit and allow them to retire comfortably is very exciting for Val and Kerrie. The Mackay store will be opening early November and the Grand Opening will be happening shortly after. We wish Val and Kerrie all the best with their new adventure, and we look forward to checking in again with them in the future to hear more about their new life and their successful business venture in Mackay.

If you would like to find out how you could open your own Total Tools store as Val and Kerrie did, please express your interest here.

Successful QLD Total Tools Franchise Partnership opens their Third Store in Eight Years

To find out more, complete your Expression of Interest Here.

There are many extraordinary stories behind most Total Tools Franchisees, but the journey that Stef Hlaca and Dave Bosman have taken to open their third Total Tools Store in eight years this week is something special. Toowoomba Boys

Stef Hlaca                                                                               Dave Bosman

Stef and Dave grew up in Zimbabwe, met at school and became close friends when they were twelve. Today they maintain such a close bond that they think of each other as brothers. Before immigrating to Australia Stef and Dave established a very successful tool business in ZimbabweDave worked in the tool industry for 25 years and Stef had a background in Accounting. “We found combining our skill sets and sharing the workload helped us progress faster” Stef recalls. It was through this business that they discovered their passion for tools and a knowing that together they could achieve great things. After immigrating with their families to regional Queensland, Stef and Dave decided to reestablish their careers in the Australian tool industry. After learning about Total Tools through a number of sales representatives they decided to investigate the Total Tools Franchise model. At this stage there were only 8 or 9 Total Tools in Australia, but the model, future growth plans and return on investment were very attractive to them both. They knew how to run a strong partnership from their tool business experience in Zimbabwe, so why not have a go by embracing the Total Tools Franchising opportunity. Wanting to stay in a business that was familiar to them both and after finding a lucrative Franchise opportunity, Stef and Dave opened their first Total Tools store in 2006. It was the first Total Tools store to be opened in Queensland, the start of Total Tools growth and expansion into the sunny state. Located in South Street, Toowoomba, it was an ideal location for their first store. Toowoomba is Australia’s largest inland regional city and is the commercial and economic hub of the Dowling Downs. With a population over 90,000 people it actually serves a population in excess of 250,000 people. It was also very important that it became a family business; their wives became an integral part of their business success. Stef’s wife Kirra and David’s wife Kjersti both are involved in the business and work in the accounts department.

South St394 South Street, Toowoomba QLD

After growing their business into a successful operation and with the on-going support from Total Tool Head Office, Stef and Dave were able to expand their store network within 6 years. Taking advantage of a competitor going into liquidation they took over the premises rebranding it Total Tools and opened their second store in Toowoomba in 2012.

Taylor St361 Taylor Street, Toowoomba QLD

Having two stores in Toowoomba has meant that Total Tools is a very prominent local business.  They firmly believe in the ‘locals servicing local needs’ philosophy, so much that Total Tools has become a household name, something they had set out to achieve. It is important for them to give back to their local community. They have achieved this in many ways, through employing locals, supporting local sporting groups and sponsoring local events. Total Tools is now a well recognised brand in Toowoomba and surrounding Darling Downs region. A win for the Franchisee and Franchisor.

Cycle Rugby Sign

“With a Total Tools Store there is never a dull moment. Varied customers, changing trends, dealing with constant changes in product technology, interacting with a wide variety of suppliers and constantly changing store presentations keep it all exciting” Stef describes his experience as a Total Tools Franchisee. For the past five years, Stef and Dave had their sights on Ipswich as an ideal location for their third store. Ipswich located in the booming south east region of Queensland has a large industrial base and shows a great deal of potential. After taking some time to find the right location, this week they have achieved an incredible goal of opening three Total Total stores in eight years. Ipswich is store number thirty eight for Total Tools nationally and the eighth store to open in Queensland.

IMG_5868 Cropped 7 Lowry Street, Ipswich QLD

The Total Tools Franchise model has enabled Stef and Dave to live a very comfortable lifestyle with their families. By investing in Total Tools franchisees they are able to build a business that will be in their families for generations to come. Working together with the head office and other group members creates a united front and a lot of shared experiences. Stef says “Constant interaction between all parties with respect to all aspects of the business is reassuring and motivates us to commit further to the model.” With three stores opened in only eight years, Stef and Dave are the perfect examples of how Total Tools can change you and your family’s lives. With lots of hard work, focus and determination you can create a very successful business working with the Total Tools Franchise model. As Stef said “Seeing growth, expanding the business and opening stores are all very exciting and rewarding”. We wish Stef, Kirra, Dave, Kjersti and their families the best of luck with the opening of their Ipswich store. We know that they will make it as successful as their first two stores and we look forward to seeing the fantastic results they achieve together. Total Tools have limited exclusive tier one territories available in NSW, QLD, NT, TAS, SA and WA. Are you serious about investing in a tried and tested franchise model that will return high profit margins and strong growth opportunities? For more information enquire here. 

To find out more, complete your Expression of Interest Here.



Albion Park

Total Tools 37th store nationally and 8th store in New South Wales opened its doors yesterday.

The Total Tools network welcomes new franchisees Glenn Scott & Tim Veitch. Together they’ll bring a sense of drive and enthusiasm to the group as well as years of hands-on industry experience from the mechanic as well as the fitter & turner trades respectively.

The store looks fantastic and is 900m2 in size, we have had a lot of customers every day coming up to the front door of the store whilst the guys were stocking the shelves.

The store will be holding their first Insiders night on the 5th of December with their grand opening coinciding with the launch of the December Catalogue.

Well done Tim, Glenn and Team

Total Tools ‘Discovery Day': increasing potential franchisees confidence


Our new potential franchisees, Val and Kerrie, have just visited our Support Office to meet Total Tools team at the ‘Discovery Day’ event.

The ‘Discovery Day’ is Total Tools Leadership Team’s opportunity to meet with potential franchisees and fully inform them about their role within the business and how each of their departments operates.  It was a great opportunity for Val and Kerrie to understand the level of support we consistently carry out for all our Franchisees. 
During the day, meetings were held with the CEO, Operational, Product Development, Marketing, IT and Accounts Departments.

Following their ‘Discovery Day’, Val and Kerrie decided to open their own Total Tools Store in Mackay next year. Having had the job experience for 30 years in the construction industry, Val liked the idea of a Total Tools franchise due to the support and expertise Total Tools provides to all its Franchisees in all aspects of business operations.

Val and Kerrie are relocating from Melbourne to Mackay which is a big change, however so worth it. 
The area surrounding the site has an ideal residential demographic profile for the Total Tools brand. The Leasing and Franchising Team at Total Tools has assisted in locating a site that shows premium demographics/geographic features. 

Val and Kerrie left our offices feeling confident that they made the right decision. Meeting everyone at Support Office has helped them understand how much work is involved in supporting our Franchisees.

CEO BECOMES STORE OWNER…now that’s belief in the system!


CEO-turned- store owner Greg Heath displays loyalty and confidence in the franchise group and brand he helped shape.

There is nothing outstanding about Total Tools Thebarton when you compare it to the other 35 stores in the franchise family, and that’s exactly the way owner Greg Heath likes it.
Although the two-year old suburban store is Adelaide’s biggest professional tools retailer boasting more than 6,000 lines, spread across a massive floor space of 2000+ sqm., its owner prefers to play down the superlatives, while eager to point out that all Total Tools outlets carry an equally substantial range, as that is the main draw card for the group’s loyal customers.
‘It’s like buying a burger from McDonald’s. You know exactly what you’re getting because the quality of the products is consistent throughout the entire chain of restaurants. Similarly, a Total Tools customer visitng from another state walking into our store will immediately find our store environment familiar. He would then be confident of getting the same quality products and services synonymous with the Total Tools name.’

The Crossover

Greg’s resolute endorsement of the corporate brand and his ‘big picture’ take on all things store-related may very well stem from his previous vocation, as CEO of Total Tools.

Subsequent to his five-year corporate tenure, the 44 year old crossed over the fence in May 2011, to ‘walk the talk’ as a store owner.

“I chose to leave that role and do what many managers of our franchise do, that is to take on a store myself. That showed belief in the franchise model and goals in the group to transition from the management team of the franchisor to becoming a franchisee.”

The badge change came as a result of Greg wanting to pursue a balanced lifestyle as a self-employed businessman and to focus on the improvement and delivery of his own operations, as opposed to those of the group as a whole.

For all his former contributions to the group, Greg says that shedding his CEO role to take up the gauntlet as a retailer has been a satisfying experience. Nothing that Total Tools has earned a reputation within the supply network as being the most professional outfit in the business. Greg concludes: “I am happy to have been one of many people who influenced the group’s successful development, and today I’m also among the grateful franchisees that benefit from the excellent support that we continue to receive from them”.