Adding Value for our franchisees: Family and Supplier Conferences


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)

USA Cofnerence 1


Female Franchisees at Total Tools

Maria Scarinci (Franchise Recruitment Supervisor) and Lily Taylor (Franchisee Total Tools Mitcham , VIC)

We are so excited to see our female franchise community grow. Who would have thought that an industry mainly dominated by men would be getting more women involved every day?

It shows how capable women are and that we are able to manage any kind of business, it does not have to be ‘beauty products’, we can also own and manage a tool store.

This is Lily Taylor, our Franchisee at Total Tools Mitcham since May 2015. I believe Lily has great advice and an exciting story to share that hopefully will allow other women to not be limited by stereotypes.

Many women are paving the way for others to get on the franchising world. Women are amazing executers and collaborators. Total Tools supports the involvement of women in the business and we are looking forward to seeing this number increase…and maybe one day women will outnumber men?

  • What inspired you to become a Total Tools franchisee?  

As a Family we were looking for a business that “Ticked all of the Boxes” and Total Tools has certainly done that for us. The process that I went through including the initial meetings, “Discovery Day”, Franchisee Conferences and Site Selection, certainly gave me all the relevant information and tools to ensure that our business would be a success. The systems and processes that I undertook in my training program provided me the best opportunity for success entering an Industry that I had little experience in.

  • How believing in yourself can make you succeed beyond any other people’s opinions?

 It is really important to truly believe in what you are doing. Attitude is the most important part of being successful. To quote Winston Churchill “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” If you believe in yourself, others will also believe in you. I have been extremely lucky to have a family that has supported me in this new role and business venture. My husband, has been my strongest supporter as have my two children that both work in the business on a part time basis, which means my whole family continually provides me with encouragement to always strive to achieve my goals.

Women possess skills that allow them to be great organisers, have the ability to multi-task, can prioritise, and have an eye for detail, all of which are a perfect match for operating a franchise. Women often have the ability to think quickly and adapt when necessary at home or work. These are definite strengths required when running your own business.

I have also tried to surround myself with experienced and passionate staff, and the benefits of this are apparent. You create a team of people who understand the business needs and are involved in the day to day running of your business. They feel valued as they provide input, and this in turn increases productivity overall.

Communication and networking skills are other traits that most women can bring to their business, and are so important in today’s business world.

Women definitely do have a different perspective when it comes to business – this is great because it means women are able to look at situations differently and work toward solutions in ways that perhaps would not have been thought of in the work environment.

  • How getting out of your ‘comfort zone’ and daring can pay remarkable dividends in life.

Initially, many of the long standing male Franchisees were not sure what to expect from a female coming into their industry. I now know that they are extremely supportive and encouraging, as they now know that “I’m not really that scary at all”.

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be quite confronting. If you don’t take up the challenge to try something different, you will never know what you are truly capable of achieving. It is extremely confronting to walk away from all the things that make you comfortable in your working or home environment. I believe that the skill set you possess are transferable into any industry. I know this to be accurate, as I have been successful and worked in many industries; Finance, Medical, Education, and now Tools.

  •  What advice would you give women to not limit themselves by stereotypes such as “that’s something for men to do”?

It is becoming very clear that after 7 months of Operations, being a “Women” in what could be termed a “Blokes Environment” should pose no obstacles or limitations on a Women entering into the Total Tools Franchise system. This business model is based around having the right stock for your customer base, and continually making changes with your marketing and merchandising to ensure that you adapt to a continuing evolving market. It is also critical to have the right staff that understand the strong Culture that the Total Tools Group have developed over the last 26 years. So being a Women in my view brings a different perspective to a business that traditionally has been male dominated, but is all about Range of Products, Services and Customer Relationships.

  • Could you give 3-7 tips for women who would like to own a franchise?
  1. Ensure you complete your Due Diligence on whichever Business you are entering into
  2. Paying for the Right Advice from your Accountants and Lawyers is Critical
  3. Talk to other Franchisees about their experiences no matter which Franchise you are looking to enter into
  4. Become a Customer in the First Instance of the Franchise you are looking at and see if this suites your skill set
  5. See what the Other Competitors might have to Offer and how they behave towards Women who apply
  6. Do not for One Minute think that a Women does not have the Aptitude to Run a Trade Based or Male Dominated Business
  7. Ensure you have the Full support of your Family and the respect of your Staff regardless of Gender

For franchise enquiries please contact Anthony on 0481 006 715
Click here to express your interest

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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.


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.