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Ian Gallagher. Ian Gallagher.
31 December 2018 Posted by 


IAN Gallagher’s story of triumph over adversity is a beacon of hope to every person struggling to overcome a lack of education in starting and running a business.

You see, Ian has reached the top of the corporate tree in Australia despite the fact that he has had a major obstacle to overcome – he can’t read or write.
It is a story that needs to be told to every young kid struggling to get through school and living with the fear that they will never get anywhere because they don’t have an education or a tertiary qualification.
I met Ian quite by chance. One of his businesses is the Central Coast franchise of the Max Healthcare Equipment organisation and he provided me with an automatic bed after I was recently released from hospital.
Now Ian wasn’t your typical delivery guy who barges in, throws the bed in a corner and disappears in a “huff”. He took the time to install it properly, explain how it worked and was the most amenable supplier I ever met...and I told him so.
That’s when Ian began to tell me his amazing story. Ian’s struggle started at school when he was nicknamed “Mumbles” because of a speech impediment.
Instead of hiding away, Ian eventually embraced the name and it became his calling card and he now uses it for the name of his corporate speaking company.
However try has he may, he never learnt to read or write and admits he drifted through school in Western Sydney.
Lots of money
“Like everyone, I went to school, but didn’t learn to read and write. I left school at 15 to become a bricklayer.
“One of the things I loved about bricklaying was that I didn’t have to read or write, I just had to work really hard to make money. I made lots of money, because I worked really
“I also loved the camaraderie of a building site. But after 20 years, all my bricklaying mates were broken down: bad backs, bad knees, burnt out and old before their time.
“I was still pretty OK, but I didn’t want to end up like them, so, one day I had the bright idea to buy a business. I went home and said to my wife Gillian: ‘I’m going to buy a business!’
“You don’t know anything about business! You’re the dumbest person I know - how can you possibly run a business?” she said, which was hardly inspiring.
“And anyway, what kind of business would you buy?”
“Well, I thought about it and said:  ‘I take the kids to Wendy’s all the time - I want to buy a Wendy’s’.”
“Now, my wife is a lot brighter than I am. She said:  ‘OK’, but she insisted I couldn’t buy a Wendy’s because I loved it, but because it was the best business to buy.
“She made me look at the business model and compare it to other food franchises like Baskin Robbins, Donut King and Michel’s. I kept coming back to Wendy’s.
“You’re going to buy a Wendy’s, aren’t you?” said my wife.
“Yes, I am,” I replied. “I love Wendy’s and I’m going to buy a business I love. So I started looking around at Wendy’s stores.”
Ian, Gillian and their three children lived in Wentworthville at that stage, but the idea of a “Wenty Wendy’s”  wasn’t that appealing.
“Why are you looking around here?” Gillian said. “If you want a lifestyle change, we need to move away.”
Ian takes up the story: “The next weekend, there was a Wendy’s store advertised for sale at Lake Haven on the beautiful Central Coast, a world away from Wentworthville.
“We went for a look and ended up buying it. We paid way over the odds for it, but that didn’t matter. “That Wendy’s store had been in the centre for 15 years, with 4 or 5 different owners.
“In the first 12 months, we doubled the turnover. So we bought a second store with a similar history and we doubled that turnover in 12 months, as well.
“Wendy’s National Office started asking questions about what we were doing? The CEO and the COO came to have a look at the store to see what was different about it.
Customer service
“I also started looking at the other retailers to see how I was different. It turned out, when customers walked past a retailer, they were just walking past for a reason.
“You see, when the customer came to the counter the retailer was just polite. When customers walked past my counter, they got a wave and a greeting. Actually, truth be told,  most of the morning was very quiet and I was bored and going crazy with no one to talk to.
“When they came to the counter, I treated them like they were important. After a while, they wanted to come to see me and have a talk. And they always bought something.
“National Office asked me to talk to other franchisees about increasing sales. This went so well that after a while, I was asked to re-locate to Adelaide and roll out a national customer service program.
“In September, 2003, we rolled it out to 300 Wendy’s stores and Wendy’s was four per cent down on profits at that stage. It worked. We finished the financial year at eight per cent up.
“I stayed with Wendy’s for the next six years, telling anyone who would listen, ‘It doesn’t matter about the product, it’s about how you treat your customers and staff’.”
“I got headhunted by Allied Brands, who owned Baskin Robbins, Cookie Man and Kenny’s Cardiology. This was an opportunity to show that my customer service culture could work in any business, not just food....and it did.
Life on the road
“However the whole family had eventually relocated to Adelaide to join me and we were all homesick for the Central Coast. I'd managed to develop a nationwide program called
Mumbles Customer Culture  that I could run from anywhere so we moved back home. I spent literally years on the road: at first it wasn't so bad, just a week or two at a time.
“But it wasn't long before I was travelling Monday to Friday and having weekends at home, especially when I went out on my own and formed the consulting business. My focus in the Mumbles Customer Culture was always on the franchisee/store manager and forming personal as well as business relationships. I was working with national brands so travel was unavoidable: phone and email just didn't cut it.
“I felt I was missing a lot - we had moved to the Coast from Wentworthville for a sea change and I wasn't seeing a lot of the beach - or the family, so when the opportunity came up to own and operate a local healthcare business last year I jumped at it.
“The Max Healthcare service works in perfectly with my consultancy. Mumbles is designed to help  businesses develop and maintain a customer service culture that changes people’s lives. I provide goals and opportunities for people, and, most importantly, I get people involved in productive and respectful relationships
“I think the idea of a breakout into healthcare is a good one. Max will be run as an independent, locally owned and operated business. I've already built excellent relationships with Gosford Private, Berkeley Vale Private and some of the major OT companies on the coast.
I asked what Ian’s best business tip was?
“It's all about forming a relationship with the customer,” he said. “It might be only a minute or two, but in that time, the customer should be the whole focus of your attention. Invite them in, have a conversation, offer them something and make a genuine farewell.”



Michael Walls
P: 0407 783 413
E: Michael@accessnews.com.au

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