Yesterday in the Image Centre Group's boardroom, a company was reborn, with the country's biggest home services franchise Green Acres launching a new, more contemporary brand.
Founded in 1991, the company has been sporting the same folksy house-and-lawn logo on its vans, the web, t-shirts and stationery. Unsurprisingly, that livery’s now looking a little dated and the folksy look no longer reflects the company’s size, scope and sophistication (around $60 million in revenues now passes through the group every year and the average value of its franchises has increased by almost 50 percent since 2007).
Over the past five years Green Acres has been quietly consolidating and refining its offering and in that time it has added over 130 franchisees, extended its leadership in the home services sector (it now has more franchisees than its nearest three competitors combined), and introduced new tools, mobile technologies and systems that help franchisees run their businesses better and keep the business ahead of its competitors.
"We commissioned advertising supremo Mike Hutcheson and his company &some to come up with a look that better reflects what Green Acres is today,” says Green Acres chief executive Logan Sears. "It needed to address our full range of service offerings, the sophistication of our systems and the fundamental promise we make to deliver a professional, personal and very efficient service to customers every day."
Hutcheson says the challenge was to create a story about all that Green Acres can do to help people maintain their home and, in keeping with the offering of Image Centre Group, it did it all in one place, from the website redesign to the vehicle wraps.
"We started with the tools, people and labour involved and worked to frame these in an elegant device," he says. "The new identity neatly showcases all of Green Acres’ services within a single image, using modern, stylised icons and pictograms artfully arranged to form the greater shape of a house. The image represents—with beautiful simplicity—everything Green Acres does to create quality time for its customers by taking care of the domestic tasks that they can’t find enough hours in the day to deal with."
Xero's chief executive Rod Drury spoke at the launch and said all too often franchisees are given guidance on the easy bits, like, for example, pizza recipes, but left to fend for themselves when it comes to the hard bits like accounting and GST returns. Small to medium enterprises are the engine room of the New Zealand economy, he says, but it's hard to communicate with them because the market is so fragmented, so he says going through central hubs like New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants or franchises like Green Acres makes sense for his business, which now has over 300 staff, and it also helps the franchisees.
"When you’re providing home services, you’re selling time, so your time is at a premium," says Xero chief executive Rod Drury. "For franchisees, having simple, readily accessible information makes a direct contribution to the bottom line. It means they can spend less time on the accounts, and more time with their customers. They can invoice customers, enter receipts and check the status of their accounts from their mobile phones, while they’re out working. From a corporate perspective, using Xero also allows Green Acres to add important back office processes to its franchise offering, giving the company total visibility of what is happening in its franchise network. That level of integration means that accounting and finance is as much a part of the Green Acres’ system as consistent branding and operational standards. We're thrilled that Green Acres has integrated its franchise systems with Xero to create a seamless operating platform for the entire team."