How did Family and Supplier Conferences begin?
The Total Tools Conference started as a simple meeting of eight business owners in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. The meetings were a chance for the common owners to get together and discuss issues within the business of the day. The agenda was simply what each of the eight business owners wanted to discuss, and in many ways started the culture of being transparent in all that is done in the business.
This was still back in the early days of the group, and as there were no agreements in place, it was a meeting of common owners, where many and various suppliers were invited to attend.
Craig McDonald is now a franchisee of the Total Tools Epping business, but throughout the 1990’s he was a supplier working with Sutton Tools, and had many occasion to attend the meetings of the Total Tools shareholders. At many of these meetings Craig recalls the half hour presentation provided to each supplier, and the occasional pasting that you would get from left field. Eventually Craig looked to create his own destiny in a tool business and was accepted into the Total Tools family. He recalls his first conference at Williamstown, “I was invited to attend my first conference. This time I was on the right side of the fence, full of confidence and wanting to make a valuable contribution.”
These conferences soon extended through to being situated in “seaside towns with a family atmosphere” and the Total Tools Family Conference was born. Through this simple conference idea, the culture of Total Tools was able to be grown and enhanced, where families and business partners became one. Owners were able to watch each other’s children grow up in front of their eyes and through these conferences the kids and wives became best friends through yearly holidays in idyllic locations.
“When I started it was clear this was a family and I witnessed kids grow up and some have now come into the business. My kids have done the same; they loved catching up with the other kids and know many of the members. Back a few years ago we all went to Fiji and went on a chartered boat out to Hitachi Island and at one point I remember looking around at this sea of Total Tools members and their families and thinking for work this isn’t bad “ – Jeremy Atkinson (Franchisee at Lonsdale – SA)
Whilst there were many funny occasions and opportunities to build relationships, the conferences have always included a lot of hard work and discussion. The Family Conference was extended to include suppliers by invitation, where relationships were grown and commitments were made with a simple handshake.
Eventually the Total Tools Supplier Conference was born and today this is represented with the Supplier Showcase, the Gala Dinner, the Golf Day, the Store, Supplier and Rep of the Year awards and is a great opportunity for franchisees and suppliers to build relationships that help to further each other’s business.
The conferences have always been an important part of the Total Tools business and also a part of the building of the culture of the business.
Whilst fun has always been a part of the journey, the conference is also the place where experience and knowledge was shared, and the Total Tools team became richer for the experience.
What does our franchisees think?
“We have had to attend many conferences in exotic locations in the company of friends and family .Is there a better way?” – Gerry Smith – (Franchisee at Ferntree Gully-VIC)
“From day one everyone was fantastic to me; they offered assistance and knowledge like I had never seen. Right from the very start I had a great time socially with every member and their partners. It did seem like everyone genuinely wanted each other to succeed and as such they would work very hard on whatever it was they did within the group to make things a success” – Jeremy Atkinson (Franchisee at Lonsdale – SA)
“The Conferences were the basis on what the group was built on. Everybody was equal; every item that was raised no matter what it was went on the Agenda. We created a very open environment and the conferences were as much about education as anything else”. – Geoff Patnaude (Franchisee at Total Tools Albury and Founder-VIC)