SPORTS people – applying the discipline and high-performance principles they have learned over many years – are likely to become some of the most successful major brand franchisees in Australia.

That is one of the peak trends gleaned from the Asia-Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence’s latest Franchise Australia Report, produced in conjunction with the Franchising Council of Australia. 

The challenge of recruiting quality franchisees is an ongoing concern for the sector and the report recommends franchisors develop a pro-active game plan that explores long-term engagement of target groups – with sports people strongly identified – to get the best possible people on board for their businesses.

The 2015 Franchise Australia Report, showed 72 percent of franchisors saw the availability of suitable franchisees as an impediment to growth.

The report outlined that the characteristics that make people excel in sport are readily transferable to franchising – and high on the agenda are those team sports that are built on a highly inclusive team culture.

The report outlined how discipline, work ethic, following systems and structures, working in teams to achieve shared goals, leadership and a never-quit attitude that were the building blocks of success on the sporting field were equally so in the world of franchising.

“Targeting professional ‘team based’ sportspeople who are usually highly paid and want to  invest in a business that will potentially set them up for life after their sporting career ends, makes real sense,” the report outlined.

Research also showed how the ‘problem’ of athletes wanting to ‘retire’ from sport in their 30s was often an ideal era of maturity for someone entering a franchise that suited their business ambitions.

The report urges franchisors to ‘think outside the square’ about their recruitment targets.

“Franchisors should be looking at ways to actively target and create genuine pathways for engagement with these groups as part of their overall recruitment strategies,” an Asia-Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence spokesperson said.

“You need a recruitment game plan for the long term and you have to be on the front foot and put yourself out there to attract the most suited people to not only grow your franchise network by numbers, by also in terms of culture.

“The general appeal to franchisors of getting sportspeople on board is easy to see, given the traits this group offers.”

For example, when it recently secured a former Socceroo and an NRL player to its franchisee team, Aussie Home Loans highlighted the attraction by declaring: “Sportspeople are a great fit culturally as they bring commitment, passion and dedication to our customers, like they have in their previous careers”.

So far, according to the report, food, retail and finance-related franchise brands seem to have captured the most attention from former sportspeople. This is natural as their sporting careers had taught them the value of a strong brand, and how to combine their own personal brand with that of their club – or in this case franchise – for maximum public impact.

“For this reason, many sportspeople also act as brand ambassadors for the franchise brand that they will potentially join,” a centre spokesperson said. “Their financial resources, relatively young age, and desire to establish a substantial business they can oversee in their post-sporting career, can also make them attractive candidates for multi-site franchise ownership.”

One example is the Red Rock Noodle Bar franchise, which has formed a strong relationship with Corey Parker, a current high-profile rugby league player for the Brisbane Broncos, Queensland State Of Origin team and the Australian Kangaroos. Red Rock has 10 outlets in South East Queensland.

Corey Parker is still an active player in his 30s and, heading towards the back-end of his sporting career, has been a brand ambassador for Red Rock Noodle Bar for the past four years, featuring in the company’s advertising, store promotions and product launches.

“Corey was looking to get involved in the business side of things later in his sporting career and he has been a good fit for us in boosting our public profile,” Red Rock managing director Phil Colburn told the Asia-Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence. While Mr Parker is not yet a franchisee, Mr Colburn said the promotional relationship has generated positive flow-on benefits for future franchisee recruitment.

“He does not own a franchise, but we have had discussions with him and also with people in his network if we expand into new markets. It does open doors and gives us a leg-up with networking and introductions to his club, teammates and sponsors.

“We have had many conversations, including on franchise ownership, with his friends, associates and contacts.”

Mr Colburn confirmed the centre’s view that sportspeople were an attractive target group for potential franchisee recruitment due to the similarities in sporting and franchise teams.

“Sporting teams are run by coaches and as franchisors we are coaches too,” he said. “They are used to being in that environment, following systems and having a coach guide them, which is just like franchising.

“As sportspeople get towards the end of their sporting careers, they do start planning for the future. Most have never owned a business before, so franchising can be an attractive option to them. For franchisors, it is about getting a foot in the door and building relationships with players and teams through things like ambassadorships and sponsorships.”

The report’s advice to franchisors is to develop more contacts in the sporting world with a view to getting the best quality franchisees on board.

“At the end of the day, it is all about contacts and timing in getting the best people on board. As a franchisor, you have to put yourself out there and the benefits of building relationships with sportspeople are in networking and introductions to a whole new field of contacts.”




HOG’S BREATH Café is getting behind women’s cycling, backing a new team that combines established and novice racers on a steep learning curve.

The team includes champion ironwoman Hayley Bateup, elite road cyclists Lauren Kitchen and Deborah Hennessey, and three ‘young hotshots’ Jena Grimsey, Sarah Mills, and Laura Renshaw. 

The newly-created Hog’s Breath Cafe Tineli Women’s Race Team is training under leading Australian cycling coach, Kurt Polock, and will compete in the 2016 Subaru National Road Series, “with the full grunt of Hog’s Breath support,” according to Hog’s Breath general manager, Ross Worth.

Mr Worth said the Aussie steakhouse promotes and encourages an active lifestyle and over the past 25 years has been “always on the lookout for sports, teams, and community events to support”.

“Team sports are one of the most enjoyable ways to stay fit so we couldn’t be more excited to get the girls on board and ‘hoggify’ the cycling scene,” Mr Worth said.

Mr Polock said, “This is a team of champions sure to bring home the bacon, with an end goal of Hog’s Breath Tineli Women’s Race Team becoming Australia’s leading cycling team.”

The girls donned their new Hog’s Breath-adorned Lycra and tackled their first elite women’s race of 2016, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.  The team came in sixth overall and Lauren Kitchen finished with an individual fifth place in a field of 135.

The Cadel Evans race has UCI status, making it part of the World Tour for professional female cyclists, and points from the race go towards selection for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.







Pictured after the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race are (from left) Sara Mills, Deborah Hennessey, guest rider Julie Leth and Lauren Kitchen.


AUSTRALIAN round-the-clock gym, Jetts, has opened its first site in Bangkok, Thailand.

It is the only Australian gym brand in Thailand and plans are to open several more in 2016, according to Jetts founder and managing director, Brendon Levenson. 

Thailand is a significant milestone for the group, which already boasts more than 270 gyms across Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands since launching on the Gold Coast in 2007.

Mr Levenson said Thailand was experiencing a growth in its economy, which has placed higher demand for quality fitness services built around convenience and flexibility.

“Thailand is currently witnessing tremendous growth in its middle class segment, bringing with it a demand for fitness services such as gym memberships and personal training,” Mr Levenson said.

“This growth presents great opportunities for our brand, with locals increasingly looking for more convenient fitness options. The combination of our 24-7 access and no lock-in contracts, alongside our Aussie brand, has been a big driver of new sales within the first gym.

“Australia’s focus on healthy living and an active lifestyle holds us in high regard internationally. We’re seeing that consumers in other markets really aspire to this concept, and will embrace the Jetts’ philosophy.”

 “The Asian market, particularly Thailand, is still very much in its infancy but growing fast,” Mr Levenson said.

“The chains that dominate are charging high fees and focusing on locking their members into 12 and even 18 month contracts. We simply don’t believe that model is the best for members and instead, aim to provide more people with the freedom of choice when it comes to joining a gym.”



AUSTRALIA’s best sports technology innovations will be on show at the inaugural Australian Sports Technologies Industry Showcase and Executive Lunch to be held at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra on Friday November 13, 2015.

Led by the Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN) the event will celebrate what is happening in Australia’s emerging sports technology industry and continue to build the connections required to further develop the sector. Supported by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), the ACT Government and global advisory firm, PwC the event will bring together leaders in sport, innovation, government and the trade and investment community. 

A Showcase of up to 40 Australian-inspired sports technologies will be open free to the general public on the day. The Showcase will demonstrate the breadth of the industry that features innovations in performance wear, protective wear, sports equipment, stadium/venue technologies, wearable technologies, sports analytics, nutrition and sport digital solutions.

The Showcase will be complimented by a series of other sessions throughout the day including an Executive Lunch which will include panels and keynotes from industry leaders, AIS / ASC briefings and AIS tours. Prizes valued at around $40,000 will also be awarded at the Lunch as part of the ASTN’s annual investment pitching competition. This year’s competition also includes an ACT Government Sports Tech Business Excellence Award and a New Innovator’s Award .

The event is part of a suite of programs and initiatives led by the ASTN to support the development of the industry and leverage Australia’s outstanding global sporting reputation. The global sports market is valued at more than $US 500 billion per annum.

To register to attend the Executive Lunch (and other associated activities) at $80 per person:

To apply to Exhibit at the Showcase @ $200 per organisation:

To enter the 4th Annual Sports Tech Investment Pitching Competition:

Friday 13 November 2015 - AIS Arena, Canberra

10:00am-11:30am – Sports Tech Exhibition – a showcase of up 40 Australian sports technologies (open free to general public) 

11:30am – 12:15pm – ASC / AIS Briefing - Innovation, technology & commercialisation agenda (Exhibitor’s and lunch delegates only)

12:15pm – 12:40pm – Guided tour of Exhibition / Networking - Executive Lunch delegates

12:40pm – 2:15pm - Executive Lunch – keynote, panel and investment pitching winners

2:15pm – 3:30pm – Sports Tech Exhibition – a showcase of up 40 Australian sports technologies (open free to general public)

2:15pm – 4:00pm – AIS Interactive Tours – guided interactive tour of AIS facilities leaders at the AIS (Exhibitor’s and lunch delegates only)

Join Australia's Strongest Sports Tech Team. Become a Member Today



CONSTRUCTION Skills Queensland (CSQ) and the Brisbane Broncos have announced a unique partnership which will help junior players at the club find pathways into construction.

The alliance will also showcase careers in the industry to rugby league players and fans across Queensland.

The new partnership will see the construction industry body become the major sponsor of the Broncos Elite Player Development (EPD) squad for the 2015 season. 

Created in 2006, the EPD squad consists of more than 250 young players from across Queensland who have shown strong potential in the sport. The program aims to educate young players on all aspects of rugby league, both on and off the field and to enhance their prospects of playing in the NRL.

Through the Broncos welfare program, young players and their families will be able to learn more from CSQ about construction careers and gain advice on training.

CSQ CEO Brett Schimming said the partnership was a win-win for both organisations.

“CSQ promotes the construction industry as a career of first choice, offering over 70 different career paths across the industry, from carpentry to project management.

“Working with the Broncos provides us with a platform to deliver this message to fit and active rugby league players across the state who are ideally suited to working in construction.

“We believe that gaining experience in construction will not only help these aspiring Broncos in their careers, but also as footballers.

“Undertaking an apprenticeship teaches great habits including team work, autonomy, responsibility and planning, he said.

Brisbane Broncos CEO Paul White said training and education off the field was a top priority for the club.

“The Broncos have an extensive range of welfare programs in place to ensure our players have a career pathway in place for life after football.

“Through this exciting new partnership with CSQ, our junior players will now have access to the best possible advice on beginning an apprenticeship or traineeship.

“Gaining a trade represents a great opportunity for a young footballer as they will develop skills they can use for life,” he said.

Broncos front rower Mitchell Dodds has experienced the benefits of having a trade first-hand. The qualified electrician was on the verge of leaving the NRL at the end of last season before new coach Wayne Bennett invited him to be part of the 2015 squad. 

Knowing he could return to his trade at any time, Mitchell was able to seize the opportunity with confidence.

Young rising stars at the club such as Jai Arrow and Aaron Rockley will have similar peace of mind throughout their careers as they undertake respective plumbing and carpentry apprenticeships.




AUSTRALIA’s most iconic surf sports endurance race will now be known as the Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold in a landmark sports marketing naming rights deal.

The new three-year partnership links Australia’s largest equipment hire company, Coates Hire, which has most notably marketed through motor sport, with an event that continues to challenge the world’s most elite surf sports athletes, 31 years after its inception. 

“The Coolangatta Gold is the perfect fit for Coates Hire,” the company’s chief executive officer Michael Byrne said. “It’s such an iconic Australian event and we are very proud and privileged to be the naming rights partner for the next three years.

 “Our new partnership with Surf Life Saving Australia has very close alignment to the areas we are focusing on as a business – safety and community,” he said.

“The sponsorship also enables Coates Hire to showcase our ability to provide equipment and event services in a challenging logistical environment, with multiple sites over a broad area needing to be built and then removed over a relatively short time – let’s just say I’m looking forward to the Gold Coast turning to more of a bright orange this October.”

The Coolangatta Gold was launched in 1984 as the concept for a movie script of the same name. Since then, surf lifesaving luminaries such as Guy Leech, Darren Mercer, Caine Eckstein, Ali Day, Hayley Bateup, Courtney Hancock (pictured right) and two-time defending open women’s champion Liz Pluimers (who won the event for the tird time in 2015) have tasted success on the 42km course.

In 2015, the categories for the Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold short-course will be expanded to include a ‘mates wave’ initiative. The Mates Wave will give athletes the chance to engage in head-to-head duels with their friends or colleagues, regardless of age or gender.

This has also been tailored as the perfect opportunity for corporate challenges, said Surf Life Saving Australia president, Graham Ford.

Mr Ford welcomed Coates Hire’s backing and said the new partnership would help broaden the profile and legacy of one of the most iconic events on Australia’s sporting calendar.

“There is a synergy between the two organisations and it makes sense for Australia’s largest equipment hire company to team with Australia’s largest volunteer movement of its kind,” Mr Ford said.

“Coates Hire is known for its reliability, performance, energy and detailed planning in everything it does. They are key traits for anyone thinking about taking on an event like the Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold, be it athletes or our valuable partners.

“There are exciting times ahead for Surf Life Saving in our delivery of sport and events and ultimately doing what we do best, keeping our beaches safe. We are thrilled to have Coates Hire joining and assisting us on that journey.”

The partnership also installs Coates Hire as the exclusive supplier of hire equipment and event infrastructure for both the Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold and The Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, to be held on the Sunshine Coast in April 2016.

The Coolangatta Gold was staged on October 10 and 11 in 2015 and for the first time in tis history won by each of the reigning Nutri-Grain Ironman and Ironwoman Series champions, Ali Day and Liz Pluimers. 




THE STANFORD Graduate School of Business Sports Innovation Conference, staged at Stanford University, California in April, showcased trends taking shape in the US that Australian sports industry leaders should keep an eye on.

This, just the second annual Stanford Graduate School of Business Sports Innovation Conference, highlighted the diversity of innovation taking place in the US sports industry – and one of Australia’s leaders in sports biometrics, Catapult Sports, was among the leaders. The conference saw how virtual training was coming into its own, how sports organisations were harnessing ‘big data’ and how smart sporting codes were developing new inclusive programs for women and children. 

There were also some revelations about how the issue of sports concussion prevention and treatment was on the cusp of a major breakthrough.

Leaders from all corners of the sports world gathered to share their insights on pushing the boundaries of the industry and the conference produced a range of innovation case studies, a Stanford Graduate School of Business spokesperson said.

“From building winning traditions on the backbone of technology to harnessing the dynamics between fan and franchise, teams must have a thirst for innovation to compete — both on the field and in people’s hearts — in the 21st century.”


The conference heard how ‘virtual training’ has up until now been more fantasy than reality in sport. Attempts to train football players with virtual reality (VR), “has been going on for 20 years,” said Stanford head football coach David Shaw. “All of them have failed; all of them have been terrible.”

Now the team behind STRIVR Labs, a product of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, may have cracked the code. Its technology could revolutionise how National Football League (NFL) quarterbacks, in particular, can hone their decision-making skills and speed up their reaction times — and without having to drag the full team onto the practice field.

It comes down to what’s known in the field of VR as ‘presence’ – the psychological phenomenon of feeling like you are actually inside the simulation. Such realism is made possible by filming actual players and events on the football field, rather than relying on 3-D modelling or video-game effects.

The result is immersive enough that, for the athletes who have used it, “as far as their brain is concerned, they’re actually running a play,” Mr Shaw said.

Mr Shaw said Kevin Hogan, Stanford’s starting quarterback, had his best three games after he started training with VR at the end of the 2014 season.

“He was always big, fast, strong, and a heck of a quarterback,” Mr Shaw said. “We got him to think a little bit quicker with immersive virtual reality.”

While STRIVR has found that ‘the killer app’ for VR is in training and simulations, Dan Reed, head of global sports partnerships for Facebook, sees limitless potential for VR in entertainment.

Mr Reed said, “99.9 percent of NBA fans globally will never be able to sit courtside. But with VR you can literally transplant people to that experience and sell a billion courtside tickets for every NBA game all season long.”


The conference heard how, over the past decade, it has become increasingly clear that sports teams can no longer expect to just get the best players and win.

As more organisations dedicate resources to the quantitative side of sports, from advanced statistical analysis and predictive modelling to the booming field of tracking performance with biometric devices, the playing field has levelled. “

The new competitive advantage will not come to the teams that are capable of gathering the most data – it will go to the teams that can quickly and efficiently make sense of it all,” the conference heard.

That means big opportunities not only for businesses that can help quantify performance metrics with atomic precision, but also for those that can funnel that data into coherent, useful information.

“We already gather so much data, but we’re not necessarily finding the right story to present to the player or the coach,” said Richard Heal, chief technology officer of Sparta Software Corp.

“We want to get coaches back to coaching. We have too many coaches spending too much time in spreadsheets, collating data.”

Mark Verstegen, founder and president of EXOS, which designs training programs, said even an organisation outfitted with the most cutting-edge technologies will not benefit much if it is not built to act upon the very data it is gathering. Teams need to have a “supply-chain management of human performance” — people in positions to make coordinated efforts to help athletes sleep better, eat better, move better, reduce injury, and improve performance based on what trainers, nutritionists, therapists, and other specialists find in the data.

“That’s where the big gaps are,” Mr Verstegen said.

Brian Kopp, Catapult Sports’ president of North America, estimated that only 5 percent of pro and college athletes are using some sort of biomechanical devices, and even then it is almost entirely in training, as most leagues are only beginning to consider allowing them on the field during games.

“But if you look at the most successful teams in any sport,” he said, “you’ll find the ones that are the most aggressive in their adoption of advanced training and tracking technologies.

Anyone leading an organisation that isn’t doing something in this area will not have a job soon.

“They’ll be replaced by someone who gets it,” Mr Kopp said.

However, questions emerged around the proliferation of biometric technologies.

Getting players, especially older ones, to buy in is one challenge, Mr Kopp said – the key is showing them that, rather than quantifying how their skills might be deteriorating, performance data will help them to extend their career and maximize their earning potential.

“Once you do that, they’re usually very enthusiastic about it,” he said.

Another issue is the question of who owns the data — the player, the team, or the technology manufacturer? Also, what limitations need to be put in place?

“We sometimes forget that athletes are human,” Mr Heal said. Just because teams pay athletes millions of dollars, does that give them the right to know what players are doing in their off time?

“There’s a person living inside that body,” Mr Verstegen said.



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