What does it mean to be a top franchise? We caught up with eight time topfranchise Award winners, Smartline Personal Mortgage Advisors to find out!


For eight consecutive years Smartline have taken out the #1 topfranchise Award, and in 2016 they also walked away with the top-spot in the Marketing, Lifestyle, Support and Passion categories.

We caught up with Matt Fitzpatrick, the National Franchise Recruitment Manager to find out more about what it means to be a top franchise.

According to Matt, Smartline’s main motivation for entering the awards is to verify their franchisee value offering, and encourage new franchisees. “There is still a buzz every year from winning the topfranchise Award and knowing our franchisees are happy,” says Matt. “Our numbers are dramatically ahead of the franchise industry average, and each year we keep steadily improving, which is a huge plus,” he added.

Keep reading to find out more about how Smartline deliver on their fulfilment piece to franchisees, and the value they get from the awards:

Recognition and delivering support

For the Smartline team, winning is a testament to happy and successful franchisees – and that’s what Smartline is all about. They don’t enter the awards for recognition or pats on the back, but see it as a bonus to be recognised for the work the team puts in.

“Our franchisees are the most important part of our business; a supportive culture creates franchisees who support other franchisees. Nurturing that will payback tenfold” says Matt.

Delivery of ongoing support and systems is often what attracts prospective franchisees to franchising. Matt is convinced that franchisors can never over-support their franchisees.

Creating the right environment and following through on what is promised to franchisees at the start of your partnership will pay off as their business grows. “Don’t overlook this opportunity and settle for minimum standards. You have to nurture, invest and provide that essential franchisee support,” says Matt.

Recruitment growth

topfranchise awards winners

SEEK Business and 10 THOUSAND FEET together with 2016 topfranchise Award winners, Smartline.

Recruiting franchisees is often the most challenging aspect for any franchise business. Success is reliant on ensuring the franchise gets maximum exposure, which leads prospective franchisees to take notice and ultimately consider the brand.

Winning the topfranchise Award raises Smartline’s online profile and visibility, enabling them to attract and connect with more prospective franchisees. “Smartline being #1 topfranchise provides a higher profile for the brand which means people who might not have considered us previously will make time to talk to us and consider our brand,” says Matt.

Brand Credibility

One of the key things people want to know when joining a franchise is – are the current franchisees happy and are they doing well?

The best thing anyone can do is to talk with a company’s existing franchisees – which Smartline encourages – but winning topfranchise is the ultimate endorsement says Matt.

Being an award winner has raised Smartline’s profile and put the brand on a level playing field despite being a smaller player in their industry. “We are not the biggest brand in the mortgage broking space and having the ability to differentiate from other mortgage brokers due to independent endorsement is huge,” says Matt.

Visibility and gaining a high profile are key ingredients when reaching out to prospective franchisees who wouldn’t normally know your brand. The topfranchise Awards provides exposure through their PR campaign, and Matt says “It’s nice to have third-party re-assurance to confirm we do deliver what we promise. The high profile gained as a result of being the #1 topfranchise brings Smartline in the mix where normally we would not have had a profile”.

To succeed and keep revving up for growth it’s important for franchisors to get the fulfilment side of things right, and invest in checking-in with their franchisees on a regular basis.

“You have so much you can learn by asking your franchisee network the right questions. Even negative feedback is an opportunity for growth. Yes, you may expose a shortfall, but it’s better than sticking your head in the sand and pretending all is okay,” advises Matt.

Find out more about the topfranchise Awards, and how to enter here.