Brent Grundy, CEO & Founder at Flip Out
The Real Battle Scars of an Entrepreneur – The Brent Grundy Story
Brent Grundy was a man with a simple business idea who built his empire from the ground up, and became living proof that someone can go from flat broke to running a business that turns over $32 million per year, in just 18 months. But Grundy’s road to success has been anything but smooth. An unfortunate but often present component of any success story is that of hardship or failure; and Brent Grundy’s story is no exception.
After a major business setback, Grundy found himself in the unenviable position of helplessly watching on as his money, home and dreams disappeared before his eyes. With barely enough money to fill a fuel tank, he prepared himself to break the devastating news to his young family that they wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas that year; the down and out businessman had hit rock bottom.
With nothing left to lose, he decided to accept his losses and turn his life around. With a renewed focus, Grundy was sitting in a play centre one day when staff told one of the older children that she was too big to play on the equipment. It was then that an idea came to him; to fill a gap in the entertainment market that caters to adults and children alike.
Today, Grundy is the Founder and Chief Executive of Australia’s first and largest Trampolining franchise business, Flip Out, and his story continues on its way into the history books. Since opening 18 months ago Brent’s business has enjoyed unprecedented success. Flip Out has expanded to a whopping twenty-one sites across the country, employing over 350 people and drawing thousands of customers through its doors each day.
Grundy’s accountant has said that in his 22 years of being in business, he has never witnessed an opportunity that allows the franchisee to recoup their initial investment within four to five months.
The zealous businessman now has his sights set on global domination; currently building centres in Dubai, Brent expects to open in 13 more countries in the next year. He also plans to use profits to donate centres to Afghanistan and Cambodia by year’s end.
- What it feels like to have your company sold underneath you and come back even bigger and better
- The importance of systems and how to develop them in your business
- What it takes to become a successful entrepreneur
- How to develop a rock solid mindset where you can’t lose
- The franchising business, how it works and how to start
Full Transcript of the Podcast with Brent Grundy
Nathan: Welcome to the “Foundr Podcast.” Hope you’ve all been having a great week. My name is Nathan Chan, and I am your host. Today, we are speaking with Brent Grundy. Brent is a local entrepreneur from Australia. I read about him in our newspaper here down in Australia and really fascinated by his story. Crazy, what he’s done in the past four years. If you’re interested around building a franchise business, learning what it takes to build a business that you can sell with next level systems, and just want to know what it would feel like if you’ve lost everything and having to start again from scratch, this is a fascinating interview.
I won’t go into too much detail but just a little teaser for what’s to come. Brent actually sold a business and it was an extremely successful business. He sold it to somebody because he wanted to do something else, and he actually ended up getting done hard. What does done hard mean? Well, the deal went to shit and he ended up with nothing, starting from scratch, having to work for someone else. And he’s come back bigger and better, and in four years’ time, he’s bit of an extremely successful multi-million-dollar business. So, I think you’re really gonna like this story, it’s really inspiring, there’s a ton of gold. So, if you were enjoying these interviews, please leave us a review, check out the magazine. The magazine is where I spend my blood, sweat, and tears, and it’s my art. So, let’s jump into the show, I hope you enjoy this one, guys. I think you will.
Thank You, Brent, for taking the time to speak with me today.
Brent: Yeah, no problem.
Nathan: Can you first tell us about how you got your job?
Brent: How I got my job? I had to create my own job. No one will give me a job this cool, so I had to create it from scratch. First I come out with Flip Out, because I was sitting in a kids’ play center before I’ve got…I had a three-year-old son at the time, and he was at a birthday party and there’s a little girl that got kicked off some play equipment because she was too tall. And, it just, sort of, stuffed the day for the people that were holding the party, yeah, it was a bit rough. The little girl couldn’t get on to play with her brother and sister, couldn’t play with her friends, so she just sit down, and she cried, and I thought there’s gotta be something that someone should, you know, make that all kids of all ages, including parents, should be able to go and play on, and that’s where I come out with Flip Out.
Nathan: Wow, awesome. And when was this?
Brent: I’d say, would have been, maybe, 2011.
Nathan: And, can you tell us where the business is at now? So you started with an idea, and can you give us an insight to what you’ve achieved with that business?
Brent: Well, when I started this, I’d actually had another business previous to that, where, in the actual sale of the business, I didn’t quite get paid anything other than the original deposit. So, after, you know, tracing her down, spending more good money to get bad money, I realized that I wasn’t gonna get my money out of it, I had just been outfoxed, so had to, you know, suck it up and start again, and this was how I started this business, so I actually went back. As much as it sucks, I had to literally go and drive a garbage truck for my parents’ business to save up as much money as I could to get going again. And that was a bit of a hard…pride-wise, it was pretty hard to suck that up when I had…previous to that, I had a business that would turnover roughly around six and a half mil a year turnover, and I had close to 30 franchises in that business.
So, that year…people think it’s pretty hard to cop it on the chin and go down to the ground, it’s not so…it is hard to do it, but it’s the moment that you suck it up and you just decide that it was your fault. In my case, I shouldn’t have used a lawyer that I used. It was more of a family friend lawyer, and I should have done my research to be better, because that’s what really got me stuck at the end. You know, when you’re down in the dumps, the best spot is when you’re right on the deck because it’s all up from there. That’s one thing I would say to people, that there’s, you know, if you do get, you know, knocked down, it’s not about what you do to get there, it’s about what you do once you are there.
Nathan: Mm-hmm, wow. So, man, there’s a few things I’d like to unpack with that first story. So, can you tell us about your first business? Was this the one that you, kind of, I guess, lost out on to start, which fueled Flip Out? Can you tell us what happened? This business, was that your first business?
Brent: Yeah, that was my first business. I started that when I was 23. And I started that, basically, from a conversation that I had with someone, where they said, you know, “You’re not very good at saving your money.” And I said, “I’m not very good at saving it, so I’m good at spending it, I’m good at something.” Then they said to me that, you know, “If you can’t save it, you’re just gonna have to earn more money.” And I just thought, “That’s a much better idea.” So, I just thought, “I’m just gonna make more money.” And then, I said, on the same day, I said, “You know what? I’m gonna quit because I can’t make as much money as I want now, and I don’t want to have a fallback.” So, I went and started my business with only a couple hundred dollars, again.
Nathan: And what was that business?
Brent: That was an electrical tagging business. So, I went out and did electrical safety checks, and everyone thought, when I started that one, that it was a bit of a hobby. And I said it wasn’t, and I just went out and kept doing. And I signed up all the New South Wales hospitals, had major contracts. Then we’ll turn it up, you know, in the first…I think in the first year, I think we turned over, it was something pitiful, earning something like 60,000, something little. And then it just grew from that, sort of, I think, the second year was, sort of, like the 600,000. And then it grew up to about six and a half mil, maybe a bit over.
Yeah, then I actually got bored of it and decided I wanted to sell it and do something that was fun because it wasn’t really a fun industry. It was selling a safety product and the only way to sell a safety product is to really put the fear into people that they need it. And it’s a government regulation, so it’s not a fun thing to sell and I wanted to do sales and have the customer with a big smile on their face when they bought something from me. I couldn’t get that there, so I decided to sell it.
And I found some buyers, and they said they didn’t have all the money, and they said that they could do a payoff system. I always said, “Look, we’ll do a deposit, get it all going, and then go from there.” They paid the deposit, and I never received a cent after it. Went chasing it, and, yeah, our piece were moved across different places so it wasn’t a real, real fun position to sit when you’re chasing ghosts, as they call it. Yeah, I chased that for about two years and didn’t get anywhere with it.
So, then decided to stop blaming other people and just blame myself for hiring a lawyer that shouldn’t have really put me in the position, but it was my fault for hiring him at the start. And now, it’s just time to get up and go and do something new and maybe teach a couple of people what not to do so they don’t go through the same dramas as I did.
Nathan: Yeah. Well, so this is a little bit like the story with Steve Jobs, how he lost his company and didn’t own it anymore, in a way, right?
Brent: Probably so. That one was a much, much smaller scale. I’m only the ant compared to being a buffalo here.
Nathan: Yeah. But, geez, I’ve actually never personally heard this kind of story before. So, I’m really curious because, yeah, before we get to what’s happening now at Flip Out and how you’ve grown and scaled that business, I just like to touch a little bit more on…are we able to talk a little bit more detail on that?
Brent: There’s not really much more detail in it, but that’s basically how it all came about, that after that happened, I got literally stuck with other people’s debt, so I got stuck with a lot of other bills that weren’t mine and they’re actually piling up against me. So, I, basically, with the original deposit that I got, I had to spend that on paying out debts to keep my name clean and keep everything above board and make sure people were paid because it wasn’t their fault.
So, you know, no one really knows that, you know, behind the scenes in these kind of things, but it’s not a fun position for an intervene, but, at the end of the day, these things happen. The only thing you can really do is make sure that you get people paid, that’s the main thing. If you keep everyone paid, then there’s no problems. If you stop paying someone, that’s where you will get a drama. So, I made sure everyone was paid up, and then that was…the only person that wasn’t paid was me at the end. So, you didn’t have fun but it’s the way it goes.
Nathan: Wow. Yeah. And how did it feel when you’re going for all this? This must have been so stressful.
Brent: It is stressful. Yeah, it’s a bit of a roller coaster ride, you know, to go from being right on top, being over to, you know, go out and buy whatever you want any time of the day. Anything you want, it doesn’t matter if it’s a new Ferrari or if it’s…whatever it is, you go and buy it. But then, to go back to literally driving someone else’s car and working out where you’ve got gold coins to fill the fuel tank, in your head, it’s not a fun spot to sit. And you sometimes sit there and you go, “How did I end up in this? I never thought I’d be here ever again.”
But, you know, sometimes, it just that, you know, you end up there. But, yeah, I suppose it’s that, sort of, some people wouldn’t be able to go through it, you know, do some bad things, I suppose, but you just gotta tough it out. And, you know, as long as you keep pushing towards the…as long as you keep moving, it’s gonna go somewhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s going backwards or forwards, as long as you move and you’re gonna keep active and keep going, but it’s pretty easy to lose motivation.
Nathan: Yeah. That must have been…oh, I can’t even begin to imagine how much of a struggle that would have been like. I remember when I first started the magazine, I was actually sued for trademark infringement, and I’ve never been sued before, and it’s just a horrible time, and I can’t even begin to imagine how it would feel for you.
Brent: Like I said, it’s not fun at all. And I don’t plan on going back there ever again, that’s for sure, there’s no way. If you keep talking what Australia’s best lawyers are, they’re usually the lawyers that we use these days. I will never get stuck with that again. Same with the accountants, those kind of guys, we use the best of the best. I can make the money, I can bring that in. If I had a little bit extra in to pay for the best guys, that’s better than losing the lot because you’ve used someone that’s not so great.
Nathan: Okay. Well, you’ve overcome that, you’re killing it right now with Flip Out, can you tell us where that business is at now since 2011, since starting in 2011?
Brent: It took me about a year to save up to buy one…basically, not to buy one, to get one built, to get the original trampoline built, which, mind you, only lasted about 10 weeks before it all just tore apart. So it wasn’t the greatest. We did learn a lot of lessons from it. And we did opening a car park because, again, I was coming off literally being down in the dumps, had no money, and to try… Literally, you know, at that stage, I literally had not even enough money to drive my car every day, I actually had to plan when to pick my son up from daycare. So, yeah, you’d have certain days, you look at the fuel in the car and you got like 27 kilometers, and then you’d have to go, “Well, I have to plan this fun, I’m not gonna go out today, I’ll go tomorrow.” So, yeah, really tough times then.
But when I opened on the first day, that I’ve literally put every cent that I had into this. And, yeah, painters were good enough to give me a go down there, which was really great from them, like, they were really supportive. We opened up on the 24th of December, only for the reason, on the 24th because I didn’t have any money for Christmas presents, I need to get it opened. So, on the 24th, I remember we actually opened up for half the day, and then I ran to the shops, just before midnight because they close at midnight on Christmas Eve, when did on a Christmas…it’s been about 20 minutes’ worth of the Christmas shopping, whatever and everything, I can grab them. So the kids never knew, yeah, I didn’t have a whole lot, and not many other people did. But at the same time, after that…I think we were open the day after Boxing Day. And in the next…I think it was the next 10 weeks, yeah, we turned over some pretty substantial numbers. It was something like 271,000 on its first 10 weeks, so we grew pretty quick.
From there, we went to an indoor facility. We’ve had a lot of council problems because we couldn’t get some DA through, but then, we also couldn’t afford not to open. So, we had a lot of staff and we needed things going, so we did open without the council really wanting us to be open. But, if we did it the way councils operate, or a lot of councils, we still probably wouldn’t be up to this day. And we’ve got, on the books now, I think there’s about 400 or 500 employees or more. We’ve got sites in all different countries. In a month, we’re opening two in Malaysia, about the second, we’ve got one in Dubai that’s opening in a couple of weeks’ time. We’ve got stuff going in Saudi Arabia. I mean, I’m actually in Dubai on Monday, and I’m in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. I was in Afghanistan only, probably three months ago. Over in Afghanistan, we’re doing a charity booth basically for the kids in Afghanistan. They’re just the same as every other kid that is in a real, sort of, ugly environment with, you know, what happens around there, so we just wanna do something different for different people in the world. So we’re gonna do one in Afghan, doing one in Cambodia, we’re also opening in Thailand next year. There’s a lot going on. We’ve got Philippines opening soon, as well, just keep on going, there’s no reason to stop.
We go with the philosophy that, you know, we’d rather deal with good people, than people with just a handful of money. So we’ve knocked back a lot of people, I won’t name their names but they’re in the media, that we’ve told we’re not interested in doing business with them when they’ve come up with some real big numbers, sort of $10 million, you know, $15 million, that’s actually put in to the actual company to help grow it. And, to be honest with you, we’re just not interested. We’d rather keep good people that have got high morals, you know, full of life, and wanna do things for the right reason.
Nathan: Wow. So, I have a few questions around the business model and a little bit more around the product, because the listeners probably need to know a little bit more of about how your business works, and conceptualize it. So you’re able to… It’s a franchising business, correct?
Brent: Yeah, it’s a franchise business. And my old company was franchise business as well. So, in franchising, I’ve seen how different companies operate. I’ve watched all the different systems. So, while I was sitting around for basically two years, I worked out who the best, you know, who had the best systems. In that timeframe, I worked out the best economical way to run the business using those type of systems but also using, you know, people like online workers, and this kind of thing. This is a new day and age, online workers, I love the idea because they’re so appreciative to get your work, they do your work on time, and you don’t, obviously, you don’t have to have an office for them. So you can multiply your staff, huge, and then still keep a small head office, and you get all the stuff done in the background.
Brent: So, we’ve put together a really good system. I’ve put the original system together, it’s been tweaked a few times now. But, for franchisees, everything from their training being online training now and it’s uniform across all countries in all different languages. You can pull it up on your iPhone, the kids will do the actual training in store on their iPhones, and then they’ll be inducted from an actual…a proper trainer will come out on site and do the inductions. There’s all the actual franchisor-all training for master franchisees, there’s everything systemized, so it’s all coming down to policies and procedures, so that the franchisees that come on board, there’s no real mess ups if they don’t… If they spend all their money in their bank account, they can’t pay the bills at the end of the month. So, on a nightly basis, we’ll take out a small amount of their marketing fee, their royalties, and we’ll put them away so that they don’t have to worry about it, its bills and even their rent. If they want us to do their rents, we’ll do they rents on a nightly basis.
So there’s all these little things that we help to try and manage, and 7-Eleven have a similar system, and they’re probably one of the best franchises in the world, so we’ve adopted a few things from them. And it’s basically of being big brother and making sure that everyone’s, you know, everyone’s having fun, but, you know, people won’t have done it fun if they’re not making any money. It’s just that it’s a good environment, good business for people to be around, makes money, it’s great for families. So that’s sort of where it just keeps pushing, we keep growing because of that reason.
Nathan: I see. And so, if somebody wanted to become a franchisee in Flip Out, at an early days, how did you convince them that it’s a good business model?
Brent: My sales pitch? This is a funny one, bit of a different one. All I’ll say to people that were interested in becoming a franchisee was, “Come in the store and sit behind the till for a few days. And if you decide you wanted to do it, great, do it. If you don’t think it’s really good, then it probably wasn’t, you know, the best thing for you.” Which, in my eyes, is basically, if you’re not smart enough to work out that it does the figures, it’s got the environment, all those kind of things, ticks most people’s boxes, they wouldn’t be smart enough to run the business if that was the case.
Nathan: And so it would sell itself because they would see how effective the business model is, and the problem that you’re solving, and how much people love Flip Out?
Brent: Yeah. It’s just that…to be honest, there’s only one time when I first opened the original store, the outdoor venue, and I remember going up on the trampoline and having a bit of, you know, a bit of a joke with the guys that were actually on there, and they were trying to do some tricks and I was telling them to do some other tricks and watching them crash out and, you know, everyone had a bit of a laugh.
Anyway, I walked back down to the till and I remember looking up thinking, “Gee whiz, it’s been over an hour. It’s been about an hour that I’ve been standing up here.” And you’re having a laugh the whole time, and then walking back to the till, sitting down, looking in the till and going, “I made like $2,200 in the last hour. That was pretty cool.” To be honest, that kind of thing, you just fall in love with the place. It’s not just about…like, it’s not about the money, like that’s all good, that’s fine. But that side of the business, that, sort of, passes after a while and it becomes…it’s more of a culture.
So, it’s about, you know… You watch kids start, for the first time, they’ll do a backflip. And my son, yesterday, he did his first backflip, and he just turned six the other day, he’s over the moon about it. And Flip Out automatically just became the best place in the world all over again. The same boy, when I first opened in the car park at Penrith, he sat on the steps and told everyone that he’s daddy bought him this for Christmas, “But it’s okay, you can play too”.
So, it’s been a bit of an emotional ride for everybody involved. I’ve still got the original stuff that we had when we first opened on the first day. So, they’re still out in stores, and then I’ve got those guys, I send them to different countries. I had one of my guys, he’s over in Taiwan at the moment, he comes back today. He’s been over training the new staff in the Taiwan store. I’ve got one of the other guys called Majdy , he’s coming to Saudi…or going to do Dubai and Saudi Arabia with me next week. He’s gonna start the training for all the over there.
So it’s for the kids that want, you know, a different career. To be honest, they could have jumped into one of our stores and show some initiative, these guys have got some pretty cool stuff coming up. At the moment, we’re set to turnover, somewhat, $43 million in the next 12 months, so in this financial year. So it does the numbers. It’s stacking up and it’s becoming a real fun for people in all different parts of the world. I was in London two weeks ago, yeah, there’s plenty of places going up and it’s good fun.
Nathan: Yeah. So, you got this, there’s something I’m dying to ask you and that is, when you started this business, you started it with the intent to franchise it, correct?
Nathan: And, how did you get so many franchisees on board so quickly, and how have you scaled this business so quickly?
Brent: I didn’t get franchisees on so quickly, it’s actually been real slow.
Nathan: Okay. Could you tell us about that then? Because it sounds really easy.
Brent: I think that we haven’t missed our mark but we definitely didn’t get it. So, we’re well off what we should be doing, and a lot of that is from not putting the right people on at the right times. I should have really put on more management, and focused more on the actual modeling, then try to do this selling with the franchise to begin with. So it’s more about that, a little bit more planning and a little bit more outside of the store than inside of the store. So, that’s what I should have been doing, that would have made our life a little bit better.
Nathan: I see. So you started, you open the first business, 24th of December 2012…
Nathan: …and when did you bring on your first franchisee?
Brent: The first franchisee didn’t come in. We opened the second store, in March. We opened another store in… I think, the next store, it took a while to open the next store because we had to wait for the council DAs, because we’d had…we’ve had a lot of fights with the council over getting permissible use of land, and things like that. So when we got the got the land department called a few times and get that sort of sorted out. Then we opened up another one in September…actually we opened two in September, in 2013. And then, from then, it’s been sort of rolling on pretty quick from there.
Nathan: I see. So I guess my next question comes when you first started with the first store, how did you get your first hundred customers?
Brent: Facebook was…what I did is to bring people in. And I know that if you change anything on your Facebook page, obviously it goes up. But if you put something as your profile picture, it comes up a bit quicker for some reason and more people seem to comment on it. And I asked everyone, when they came into Flip Out, if they wouldn’t mind giving me a hand and just taking a photo and putting on their Facebook. But if they make it their profile photo of them on Flip Out, that I’d give them a free bottle of water, I’ll give them a discount of two dollars. And they all did it. And it was the first day that we opened, I think, we had probably about a hundred customers, something like that, maybe a little bit less. And the second day, we were about 300 customers, and the third, it was around 600. So, it was just queues and queues and queues of people. So it was good fun.
Nathan: Wow, that’s crazy. And what do you guys teach your franchisees the best form of customer acquisition right now, to sell to trampolines?
Brent: You got to keep it fun, you got to keep it cool, and you’ve got to be able to teach kids… A trampoline can get boring really, really quick if the range of the kids’ tricks run out. So the idea is if you can keep teaching children, or any age, any adults, doesn’t matter… We have some people coming in, sort of 50 years old and they’re doing their first flip. But if you keep teaching them a new trick, it all becomes brand new again.
Just like I said before, my young son that was in, yesterday, in one of the stores, one of the guys taught him how to do his first back backflip. And this morning, he got up and he said straight away, “We have to go to Flip Out this morning, have to go to Flip Out.” So it’s all just became the hot…that whole world just became brand new again. So then, next month, it’ll be something he’ll wanna do, you know…he’ll get bored of the backflip in the next couple of weeks, and then he’ll want to do something new. And if he doesn’t get taught something new, he’s gonna get bored and he won’t want to come. So, we teach him something new, and he’ll keep coming.
Nathan: I see. So, you found a gap in the market for trampolines?
Brent: Well, it’s a gap in the market, but it’s not just for trampolines. It’s a gap in the market for people of all ages to come together and play in one place. See, the little brother will wanna come to something small, like a little soft play kids play center, but the older brother won’t come because it’s not cool. So, and then the dad won’t wanna come, especially if you’ve got a single dad that has a little son, might say, “Look, you know what? I’m not gonna take my little son down to the soft play center,” because the dad doesn’t think it’s cool. It’s not cool for him to hang out there. He wants his son to grow up to be that cool kid that’s full of confidence, that’s got the tricks up his sleeve, that can do things that are higher risk, but outrageous, you know, cool moves. I think it’s sort of everything that a dad will wanna do.
And same with the moms, the moms love to see their daughters come down. They’ll come down and instead of doing normal day-to-day dancing, they can come and learn how to do their flips and tricks, and then they go out and incorporate it into their dancing. So, everyone, sort of, wins, it’s good.
Nathan: I see. And what did the first version of the trampoline look like compared to what it is now? And I’m curious, how much, like, customer development did you do with the kids to work out how to create something that people just fall in love with?
Brent: The trampoline is basically identical. The original green with the two pyramids, that’s still the same, like, that’s our signature look, that’s what we wanna keep, that’s our Flip Out. Everything else around it, we’ve added in, obviously, fine picture, put Olympic trampolines, we’ve put wall runner trampolines as well. We’ve put kids trench. You know, there’s a lot of other things we’ve put in there. We’ve got a two-story trampoline at the moment. We’ve got a glow-in-the-dark trampoline. We’ve got all these cool extra things coming in. We’ve got DJ nights with laser light shows. And there’s a lot of these extra things that come in. We even run dance groups with rap dancing in it and all these other kind of…or break dancing competitions.
So it’s all about…we engage the customers like no one else. We have MCs in all our centers. We run different trick competitions and different nights where we will run these prize competitions and things like this. You gotta reward the customer as much as they reward us, like they come in, you know, obviously, they feed us and they keep us growing, but, at the same time, we’ve gotta remember that they’re, you know, they’re the reason we are, you know, where we are. So we keep giving back. It might cost a little bit extra in prizes and all these extra things that we do, and for DJs and all these extra things, we ain’t charging extra for any of that, but it’s all about getting the experience. It’s not just… Trampolines are good, but you’ve gotta keep it fun, you’ve got to keep the atmosphere right. The atmosphere is wrong, no one’s going to come back. It’s kind of like having a candlelight dinner in the middle of a shopping center. It’s not going to be so exciting unless you, you know, you get the right atmosphere in the room or dim the lights and get everything exactly the way it should be.
Nathan: How did you learn this?
Brent: I don’t think it’s something that you can be really taught. I think it’s just something that’s in your head and you just think that that is what is cool. So it’s, basically, for me, I just look at it and go, “Oh, this is what normally do, wouldn’t you?” And all my other people would say, “No, it’s not.” That’s why I do it. And so that’s just the way…that’s why we do it. So I don’t really ask. I’m not trying to come across as arrogant but…
Brent: Oh, no, of course, I’m just curious.
Nathan: I don’t try and ask too many people for opinions because they try, and all they do is persuade what yours is. And what my opinion is, sort of, the way that we progressed to where we are now, and if I let someone else come in, before you know it, they’re gonna be painting the wall pink. They gonna be painting, you know, the party room is in all, you know, rainbows and unicorns and things like that, and yeah, that’s just definitely not where we plan on going with this business. We’ll leave that for the soft play centers, but that’s definitely not us.
Nathan: Okay, Brent. Well, I guess what I’m really trying to find out is what are some key things that our audience can learn from you that you’d like to say, “You wish you knew when you first started to really grow and rapidly grow and scale business?”
Brent: One of the first things I’d say is that you don’t ask for advice when you already know better, that’s one. They’ll only persuade your correct answer to something that isn’t gonna work for you. Don’t take another people’s fears, don’t adopt their fears at all. People will always tell you not to do something because they’re scared of doing it themselves. But you, inside, might be able to go out and do that, exactly what you are dreaming of, but the guy next to you doesn’t have the same dream, can’t get the same picture, and because he believes and he knows deep down that he can’t do it. So just set up a safety fact, not that he’s trying to…he’s not trying to be bad to you, he’s not trying to be jealous or anything like that to you, but he’ll try and persuade you not to do it, just, sort of, he’s care for you, it could be a family member. But in them doing that, they’ll stop you from having all these new opportunities in life.
So you’ve gotta keep doing what you’ve got to do. If you’ve gotta literally cut people out, where it’s family, and trust me, I’ve done that a few times, just to cut negativity out, you’ve just got to go for it and just not listen to anybody, just do what you’ve gotta do. And the moment you start listening to someone is the moment, a lot of the time, where you’ll lose focus. You’ll forget where you were originally going.
So another thing is, I’d say, just don’t stop. You’ve gotta keep going. Doesn’t matter if you…it’s like walking into the surf, you know, you’ll get hit by all the waves, but you just keep on walking. You can’t let anything stop you. It doesn’t matter if it’s…like, for us, we’ve had plenty of council problems, we’ve had all these different things that have popped up in, you know, along the way. And it could be a money problem or it could be some other kind of problem, you just gotta keep going. Don’t stop, no matter what. If you keep pushing for long enough, something will pop up and you’ll grab hold of it and you keep going.
Nathan: This is great. I’m curious, how many hours do you work a week?
Brent: This is a bit of a laugh. I’ve never counted, but I could give you my sleep pattern, if you like.
Nathan: Yeah, there, I’m curious. I’m curious.
Brent: Okay. I would go to bed at about, let just say, 10:00. I would sit on Skype, talking with some guys till probably…this would be overseas, to probably Dubai. And I might have a couple of phone calls, while I’m in bed, to Dubai, on Skype, talking to them about what we’ve got coming up, what franchisees we’ve got in the system coming through right now. Then it will get to, probably, let’s just say 12:00. Have a sleep for about three hours, and then I’d wake up, talk of the guys in the UK about what’s going on over in the UK at the moment. And then, depending on what’s going on because we want to talk to Scotland as well, so we make some phone calls there, send some emails back and forth, send them any documentation that they need. And then, at probably, let’s just say 4:00 in the morning, probably sleep till about 7:30, and then get up and go to work. Maybe 6:00 in the morning depending on who I’ve gotta talk to, any of the builders at all, because they start early. And then, off your day starts.
Nathan: Wow, that’s intense. And what sort of hours were you doing when you first started, like, just to get the business off the ground, when you first launched? Can you give us an insight into that?
Brent: I tell you about when we first built the actual trampolines is a pretty good one. When we did that, I remember us started on, I think it was a Wednesday, at 5:00 in the morning, on a Wednesday morning, and I didn’t leave site, it was about 40 degrees that same day. We started building, and we had two guys go home from heat stroke, one of the guys that was actually on site went to hospital in that same day. It was 42 degrees, I think it was, from heat, so there’s three guys that completely left the site.
Nathan: This is… Sorry, sorry, just let me interrupt. This is the first day, this is the preparation for your launch?
Brent: This is the first day that we first opened, it was extremely hot but we had to get open.
Brent: So the guys that came out and helped, everyone worked in the sun and it just got too hot and some of the guys had to go home, so we lost basically half our crew on the first day. So I stayed on that day until, probably about 3:00 in the morning the next day, building. And then, the next day came and we started again at 6:00, so I went home for about three hours. And then it just kept rolling on. So we did that until we opened. But, in that time that you sitting there, and you’re at, you know, 2:00 in the morning, there’s not another single person there, you’re there by yourself, hanging springs, I was, so I remember just sitting there and going, “What have I done?” Like, “This is such a pain, I wish I could quit.”
And that’s the part where most people, sort of, go, “You know what? I’m going home.” But you don’t get that luxury being the boss. It’s bad luck. You’ve just gotta suck it up and you just gotta keep going and do it. Because I knew that I had Christmas coming up. I think I had like two days to go before I had to get this thing finished. And you just look at it and say, “Well, for every hour that I’m here, it’s an extra hour that I can get, you know, before Christmas, because if I left for an hour, I might not be able to finish by that 24th of December.” So I had to get that done no matter what.
And it’s just one of those things you just can’t get out of it and you can’t justify going home, having to sleep, compared to the consequences of you going home for a day and, you know, then you’re gonna be a day late. You know, you can have an extra sleep for a day after in two weeks’ time after you’ve been running for a week, then you can have your sleep. But right now, you’ve gotta keep going.
Nathan: I’m just getting this feeling that you’ve just got a major sense of hustle.
Brent: I hate losing. I’ll have to…I’m very competitive. So it’s, basically, if you decide you’re gonna win…this is my philosophy. You decide you’re going to win, and it’s just the time that it takes you to get there they may differ between the next guy and you. So for some people, they might win in the first year but, for us, it might take us a few extra years.
Nathan: So, when you first started this business, you already knew that it was going to be a success?
Brent: The only reason is because I decided it was gonna be. It wasn’t that I, you know…some people that let other people, sort of, make their fate, but, for me, I decided that we’re gonna open up in all these different countries a long time before… My lawyer, and he asked me today, he said, “Do have a company registered in UK?” And I said, “Yeah.” He said, “When did you do that?” And I said, “About two weeks after I opened the first door.” And he said, “What? In January?” And I said, “Yeah, did it about the first month after we opened or first couple of weeks after we opened.” I said, “We are registered in the UK because that was the second place I planned on going.”
So, the companies have been opened in all different parts of the world for a long time. Some of them have been, you know, six months to two years. New Zealand has been opened the same amount of time as this one here. So we’ve got a massive franchise for New Zealand that’s going in now and a few buildings are ready to get up. So, yeah, I always planned it not to be just a little local business.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. That’s really impressive, I’m blown away. And the growth that you’ve had in the past few years for your business, it’s extremely impressive. I’m curious, what advice would you give to our listeners around just growth tactics, strategies, marketing, in general, that you found that had held you in very good stead, comparing, you know, your experiences on your first business and now Flip Out?
Brent: One would be, don’t stick to the rules. The rules will only hold you back. I’d say, do whatever you need to go do to get the job done. Obviously, stick to the law, but not the rules of the day-to-day business where people have structures, where they have the normal set business plans. If you can get in front of your business plan, get in front of it and, you know, throw it in the bin and just keep going. You’ve got to still stick to the guidelines of where you want to go in business so don’t lose the focus, but make sure that you push everything to the limits. And there’s, you know, the three As are in my book, I one of my old landlords, when he was sort of laughing at me, about what I was gonna do in his building, he thought it was a joke. Putting trampolines in a building and we’re gonna pay, you know, $27,000 a month rent, he wanted it to be a bond.
But he told me and I’ve sort of stuck to it, I think it’s a great philosophy, it’s the three As. It’s account, attitude, and attack. So if you’ve got the right attitude, and your accounts are always up to date, like, we kept our accounts really up to spec these days, it’s great, but, you know, if you’ve got those two in order, then it’s just time to just go flat out. They’re the main things. As long as you keep your accounts up to date and your attitude is, you know, you’re not going to get stuck up, you’re not gonna have a bad attitude towards people, you always stay humble, listen to everybody, no one’s ever too good to listen to someone else, but it’s just that you’ve just gotta have…you know, you got to be open to everyone, but at the same time, it’s not to slow down for anyone.
Nathan: So, what are your plans for the future with this business? What you, it sounds like you have big dreams, like, when you first decided what you’re going to achieve, what have you decided?
Brent: To be honest, I think that every kid around the world, doesn’t matter if they’re rich or they’re poor, deserves to go to a Flip Out. I see how much fun kids have here at Flip Out. And it’s sort of a shame that I see that those kids can pay for it and they get the luxury of being able to come and have that fun, where there’s other kids in other parts of the world that can’t. So, what we’ve committed to is to, you know, we’ll use the money from certain sites around, you know, in different parts of the globe to pay for free sites, that we’re going to build and give it out to, you know, under privileged areas.
So we’re giving one to Afghanistan, actually equipment’s already sitting there, ready to go. So, that’s good. That’ll get…just put together in probably the next six or seven weeks, that’ll get, all erected. And then we’ve got Cambodia coming up sort of the end of January, but we do plan on doing this all the time and getting our franchisees involved in it as well. Again, it’s a bit of an emotional ride for a lot of people, but it’s well worth it. And I don’t mind spending the money. Kids are kids, like they deserve to have, you know, deserve to have fun.
Nathan: Wow. Well, that’s, that’s an amazing mission. And I could talk to you all day, but we have to work towards wrapping things up. Couple of last questions, what advice do you give, because you said you’ve got a team, how big is your team, sorry?
Brent: My team at my head office, or…?
Nathan: Yeah, well, both, your team at your head office and then globally.
Brent: I think globally, there’s about 415 of us. The team, my building team is in my building business team, for all the sites and everything, we’ve probably got about six or seven people. That’s basically about it. They’re the main the main crew. One of the things we do wanna to do is, over the next four years, we plan on opening up to a thousand sites. So we’re gonna try and do 800 to 1000 sites over the next four years. So it’s a bit of a mission. You just have to, you know, I’ve got no choice, I just got to do it.
Nathan: And how do you manage that team? Because I know the listeners must be thinking that must be quite overwhelming, the thought of having all those people to worry about.
Brent: It’s all micromanaging. So, like I said before, I have a lot of online workers that’ll go through and they’ll…it’s all about checks and balances. So they’ll go through and check systems, make sure everything balances, and then give you the report. And as long as all those reports are always good, you know, you can keep doing your day-to-day job and there’s no hiccup. But it’s also about having the right staff on board that can also multitask, that aren’t just stuck in their way to do one single job, that if something does pop up and we don’t have someone for it, that someone’s going to jump on that and sort it out as quick as they can and go back to their normal job.
Nathan: I’d like to touch on your system. Could you come back you… You mentioned your system that you have in place. It sounded really next level. Tell us about what advice you would give to people coming up with systems within their business?
Brent: Systems, it’s all got to be uniformed, no matter where. I’d have the system so that it can be replicated in different countries, in different languages, and it’s not going to make any difference to anybody. It’s also got to have an accounting, as I said earlier, with those three As. With the accounting side of things, it’s also got to link into a good accounting system that is also uniformed. So our accounting system, we use one single system all over the world for every country. And our guys, our online guys can check any of them at any time. You’ve always got that little backup.
And also it’s all about technology these days as well. Technology, you can’t deny that you got to start getting into the new era of, you know, having things on iPhones, having training videos that someone could sit at home while they’re watching TV. So before a new staff member comes on with us, they’ve gotta go away and go do the training video, their online course, but it’s all on their iPhone. So then they’ll come in and they’ll do their training with us in the store, just to prove that they’ve done their course, and they bring their certificate that gets printed out throughout the course, and then they can go for a job. But before they do that, they can’t.
So it’s all about making sure that you eliminate negligence for us, that’s one of the big things. We also want to make sure that the franchisees keep everything in check with, you know, how much money they’ve got coming in, how much money they’ve got going out next week. So, a person will always get upset if…if they can’t manage their own money, they’ll blame someone else for it all the time, so if we can keep that in check, the morale for them to grow their business is always going to stay high.
Nathan: I see. Do you have any step someone could follow for setting up a system, like what classifies when somebody needs a system for their business?
Brent: I would say that anyone that’s got a small business at the moment that wants to go and go to the next level, would I get everyone to write out a manual on what they do on their day-to-day jobs, so that someone could walk in tomorrow and sit in that chair, read the manual, and then do their job. All that’s done right then, that amount of manual which is…that’s one procedure done for that job. Then what I do is that every time something comes up relating to that job, whether someone asks a question and you don’t have the answer in that manual, answer the question once, and then update the manual. So, everything’s about answering a question once and updating the manual.
So for us, when something happens, we answer the question and then go back to the manual and say, you know, we’ll update the manual because the one answer that you want to have as a franchise is always to say, “By the way, it’s in the manual, you don’t need to answer that. It’s in the manual, so go back there and you know, read Section 7, paragraph 12, and there’s your answer.” So you want people to familiarize themselves with these systems really well, so that if you’ve got a good system in place, people don’t call you. When you’ve got bad systems, bad procedures, your phone won’t stop ringing, and it’s all because it’s all up in the clouds and no one’s being told anything. So the more you inform people, the more they’re relaxed, the better the system, everyone gets along much better.
Nathan: Yeah, this is great. And that’s how you free up your time to work on growth.
Brent: Yeah, 100%. So if people are ringing us asking silly questions the last three times, but it’s still not on the manual, you’ve still got to answer it. If it’s in the manual, you just say, “It’s in the manual. Why, haven’t you read the manual?” And they’ll say, “I’ll go check it.” And you say, “Well, it’s in the marketing, your local marketing guide.” “Okay,” and then they’ll go back and read the marketing guide, and they won’t call you back because it’s in there. You never answer a question twice, in my book, you answer it once and just update the manual, and that’s… If a person that’s in business, that wants to get their business and, you know, running smooth, that’s a great way to do it. And also, if you want to free up a lot of time, that’s an even better way to do it. You’ll free up so much time if you never have to answer a question for twice.
Nathan: Yeah, no, that’s awesome. I love that. All right, last question, Brent, because I’m mindful of your time. Are there any parting words, any action items, any things that you wish I have asked you, that I haven’t asked you yet that you’d like to finish off of on…for this interview?
Nathan: The only thing that I would say also, to give people advice is…and I live by this, I always do this, so I’d say put yourself in position where you can’t turn back and you’ll always succeed. That’s just the way because it’s…if you’ve got something to fall back on, people tend to always go back to that, what their fall back is. They’ll only ever push 80% towards that, that first, that number one goal. If you’ve got nothing to fall back on, and you’ve got no backup, you do a 110%, every time. And when you feel like quitting, you know you can’t, you have to go, and you have to keep going.
So if anyone wants to start their own business, I’d say decide what it is you want to do, make some good plans, and then I wouldn’t go and run it by people that don’t have your skill set, because they will say no and they’ll try and push you away from it. Like I said earlier, those who have got fear of certain things, don’t ask that person, because he’s going to try, you know, instill his fear unto you. So if anything, go see what someone else is going…if they’re doing, you know, take what they’re doing right, add it to yours, and then just go flat out at it. Don’t hold back for anybody.
Nathan: That was awesome. Well, we’ll wrap up here, Brent, but thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. This is, yeah, really, really inspiring interview. A lot of gold shared, so, yes, I just want to say thank you.
Brent: No problems, mate, all good.
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