Most couples shift nervously in their seat when faced with the idea of working together, but not Suzanne and Owun Taylor, who have seamlessly transferred their marriage partnership into the mortgage broking arena. After many years in the IT sector, Suzanne decided to pursue her goal of running her own business and became a franchisee of specialist brokerage Mortgage Choice.
“I struggled working for other people, putting lots of effort in and not really getting the rewards,” Suzanne explains. “I think that’s just my style – I am more suited to being in charge of my own destiny.”
While Owun worked full-time as an engineer for Qantas, Suzanne tested the waters and it soon became obvious there was growth potential in the business. Ten months later, Owun joined the franchise.
“When we got to Owen potentially coming into the business, that’s when it all got a bit scary – but we had a good feeling about its potential and with the amount of leads we were getting, we needed two people in the business. In the end you have to back yourself.”
Taking on a franchise appealed to the Taylors because it allowed them to be their own boss without having to start from scratch. From day one they have had access to IT support, training and marketing, and were able to leverage off an established brand. Any obstacles they have encountered with Mortgage Choice have been quickly overcome.
“The way we’ve worked through most of the issues that we’ve come up [against] is to look at the long-term,” says Owun. “Is it really going to affect us in six months time, and if it’s not, just get over it, get on with it – that’s all part of growing the business.”
In their first year of business, the Taylors recovered their set-up costs and wrote 44 loans worth $9.1 million – the turning point came when they moved out of their home and into a shopfront in Sydney’s inner west. They had taken on an admin assistant and were keen to employ more staff, which had been part of the plan from the business’ inception.
Their approach to this initial growth was slow and steady, keeping a close eye on cash flow and only taking the next step when the business was “pretty much bursting”. The change of location had an immediate effect on the business, increasing their turnover by 300 per cent and settling 113 loans.
“When we moved into our commercial premises, it drastically increased the amount of referrals we received from friends because they realised we weren’t messing around,” Owun recalls. “They recognised it was actually our business – it wasn’t a hobby – and they saw us grow and develop.”
Furthering the growth through strategic alliances with other Mortgage Choice franchise owners, the Taylors took on a second shopfront in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, which has allowed them to increase their market presence and employ more staff. But there are self-imposed limits to their growth, preferring to contain the business to a manageable level that enables them to retain a close relationship with their staff.
“We want efficiency in the business,” says Owun. “We have a fantastic conversion rate for what we do – our service to the clients is proof – so we don’t need 100 staff.”
So why does this dynamic duo work so well together? Balance is the key – especially with the added responsibility of bringing up a toddler. Owun says they’ve “always been like yin and yang” and that Suzanne “looks at business through an analytical number point of view – I’ve just got complete blind faith".
“You really have to work out what your skill set is – I’m the serious one, pretty driven, motivated,” she says. “Owen builds rapport pretty quickly with people. He’s comfortable standing up and running seminars, I rely on that definitely.”