A fresh approach pays off
YARRA Valley Farms' Geoff Cook is passionate about helping people start their own business and improve their lifestyle.
He is the director and master franchisor of Yarra Valley Farms on the North Coast and owns the company's distribution centre at Billinudgel.
Yarra Valley Farms began in Victoria and distributes fresh fruit and vegetables to chefs and kitchens in pubs, clubs, restaurants and other food outlets.
Aside from Yarra Valley Farms' huge buying power, Mr Cook says it is the company's sophisticated IT system that makes it such a successful franchise.
"Our computer program facilitates a very efficient stock distribution process," he said.
"It gets the food specifications right for the customer and our warehouse and distribution system minimises time and labour costs."
Mr Cook became involved with the company 18 months ago and put together a business model that made franchise partners of the company's delivery drivers.
"Australians crave that personal relationship, and most chefs want to be mates with the person they buy their food from.
"In our franchise the guy who has the frontline relationship with the chef is an owner.
"Fruit and vegetable people are the salt of the earth but they may not necessarily be interested in accounting, computing or sales work.
"So our franchise system provides comprehensive support to franchisees, including computer training, preparation of BAS statements, sales training and bookkeeping.
"This leaves the franchisees free to look after their customers and grow their own business.
"All they have to do is turn up at 5.30am to pick up their orders and look after their customers."
Mr Cook said there were 13 franchises available in the region, with a new franchisee recently appointed in Byron Bay
"It costs $75,000 to buy a franchise and operators can easily earn more than that," he said.