Getting to know… Melissa Harrison of The Pedi People

The Pedi People are Australia’s premier mobile toenail cutting, foot care, pedicure and manicure franchise, all in the comfort of your own home!
Tell us about yourself
I am mum to Dane and Jude, and wife to Paul. Living in Maroubra, we are a beachy kind of family and have a kitten called Baby. A little known fact about me is that I was a champion dressage rider when I was younger.
I’m one of the co-owners of The Pedi People, formally The Toenail People. My background was in corporate as a Business Manager in the Oil and Gas industry. I used to set up and run companies for an entrepreneur in Sydney; we would found a start up, get it up and running and list on the stock exchange or sell.
Before leaving the corporate world I was stressed, unhealthy and got really sick with glandular fever. I couldn’t get out of bed and while still receiving work calls, I realised I couldn’t do this anymore. The more I thought of work, the sicker I became with stress and anxiety. I had to find something new for myself because I couldn’t look after my family or myself if I continued to do this job. I felt I wasn’t a good mum, wife, or friend.
I’ve always been entrepreneurial and the natural next step would be my own business venture. I’ve had a couple of businesses in the past and knew I could get my confidence back to do it again. 2 years prior I had heard about The Toenail People and thought it was quite a niche, yet slightly weird, business and a good idea but the timing wasn’t right. Whilst sick, confined to bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about the toenail cutting business and how it really was a brilliant idea. I could do this! I recovered, and quit my job. I bought the Sydney franchise of The Pedi People, retrained and hit the ground running.
Tell us about The Pedi People
The business was founded 17 years ago and was owned by a couple on the Gold Coast. I became a franchisee in 2015 and bought the entire Sydney franchise. I always had business synergy with Karen Farquhar, one of the founders. Karen’s relationship broke down in 2016 and, out of this unfortunate circumstance, came a fantastic opportunity for Karen and I to become business partners.
We changed our name from The Toenail People to The Pedi People at the start of 2017 and we have been slowly implementing the new brand to ensure that we get it right and it truly represents our service to our clients and equally to our franchisees.
The Pedi People solves one of life’s problems. Until you cannot do something like cut your own toenails or fingernails, it’s not a problem. Did you know that 1 in 3 older people no longer have the ability to cut their own toenails? Staggering statistics. As you age you need regular, professional and affordable foot care. We are all getting older and currently 15% of our population is over 65; by 2057 it is projected to have doubled. A lot of older people have some kind of disability or mobility issues and in addition there are a lot disabled people who need help with their care needs. This is a simple and affordable mobile service that really helps and cares for people.
What services do you provide and who are your clientele?
We have traditionally serviced older and disabled people however, over the last two years also pre and post-partum mums, people experiencing weight management issues, ladies who like to invite their friends around for a pedi-party and lads who need a “man buff” before a night out. They all love that our service comes to them in their own home.
Our basic service will cut and file your toenails, remove any rough skin and give you a massage. Our transformational Medi Pedi is luxurious and we use products with active ingredients to rejuvenate, repair and deeply moisturise your feet and legs. All our products including our nail polishes are suitable for ageing delicate skin, cancer patients, diabetics, and pregnancy (during and postpartum).
We take a medical approach with non invasive cuticle removal, removing dead callouses without shaving your feet and you get a really beautiful massage designed to suit you. We don’t use water as we have to consider people who can’t have their feet in hot water including diabetics and pregnant women. Our products are professional quality, non-occlusive and absorb into the skin. You will feel amazing. Our service is a safe, beautiful and easy way to treat someone in their home. It’s about convenience and luxury.
You are franchising your business. Tell us about it and who is most suited to become a franchisee?
We are really struggling to keep up with demand, which is why we are franchising The Pedi People. There is great opportunity to have like-minded people join us who want to make a lifestyle choice for themselves, and provide a service to help other people.
We know mums make really good franchisees, as it’s a business that can fit in and around your kids. We have done all the hard work in setting up; we give you the training, a small business course with Business School for Mums, and ongoing support. Mums are smart; they have great working backgrounds and want a business with flexibility. Confidence can be a problem for mums who have had great careers yet may not want to go back to work and leave the kids. We keep it easy so that a mum can walk in and fulfil her dreams of owning a business.
The Pedi People is a work from home business where you can either employ technicians to visit clients or do some of the technical work yourself. Franchisees choose their own balance, and that flexibility is rare these days. Karen and I go to all our kids’ school events; I have school holidays off if I choose as my clients fit in around my schedule. It’s a really flexible repeat business where the clients are loyal and totally lovely.
What process is involved to become a franchisee?
When our franchisees come on board, we help arrange police checks, insurance, and the set up your business. A franchise typically runs for 5 years. At the start and during regular intervals, we work with you on business planning so that both parties know where you want to go with your business. This includes your exit plan. Our training is comprehensive and we have partnered with amazing training organisations so that you can retrain quickly and hit the ground running. All of the equipment is supplied upon a franchise start and you are taught how to look after the health and wellbeing of your clients. This includes being a professional toenail cutter/pedicurist, sterilising your equipment, understanding contraindications, understanding older people, and knowing your limits. This is a simple toenail cutting business and we are not podiatrists. We don’t diagnose or undertake any complicated foot care issues. If a client comes to us with an issue we refer them to their doctor.
This is one of the few last niche businesses out there. Yes we have competitors, Podiatrists and nail bars, but we are the gap between those services. The Pedi People have incredibly high standards, quality checks, and a system that supports your success.
Which areas do you cover currently and which area is available?
We are franchising Australia wide and we currently cover Brisbane, Coolangatta, all of Sydney, Canberra, Queanbeyan and we can cover the Central Coast and the Illawarra region.
One of our bigger areas territories available is the Inner West of Sydney. We have many clients in the Inner West and would love to find a suitable like-minded franchisee to take over this area. It has a very large proportion of our demographic and a definite need from older and disabled people across Sydney.
Here are some relevant figures:
In Coogee and Maroubra, I could work that by myself all day every day. It has 25,000 older people. Vaucluse and Bondi, there are 40,000 older people! Inner West, there are 265,000 people and 25% of that is mums and families. The over 55’s are 43,000 people who could potentially use our service!
As a franchisee that buys into our system, you won’t be asked to hit huge targets – if you hit 3% of your demographic, you could achieve a six-figure business.
What is the scope for business owners to make a living from this work?
You can make a good quick return on your investment and start making profit with our franchise system. We do warn however, that you have to run your business and work hard. You only get what you put in. Yes you can fit this business in with your kids and family, however no business is profitable after 2 weeks. We try to set realistic expectations.
The best thing about what you do?
The people we meet. Whether they are a client or a potential franchisee – everyone is interesting! We love that as we’re in the personal care industry, we are in an intimate situation and become friendly with our clients due to the regularity of our service. We hear amazing stories from people with extraordinary lives, what’s not to love! Every day is different and we provide a simple service that makes a huge difference in peoples lives. It’s a really personal and beautiful service.
Most useful business advice ever received?
Don’t be afraid of yourself; you can really hold yourself back. Invest in yourself and keep learning. Make yourself a priority.
Share with us your ideal day. What will you be doing and who with?
Just being with my husband who works really long shifts and stupid hours, and my 2 children. Throw in a little work, which I love, but it’s all about family for me. I do what I do for my family. It’s important to me that everyone comes back together in the evening to enjoy a family meal together.
Favourite spots in Sydney’s Inner West?
I have a soft spot and a bit of history with the Inner West. I’ve lived in Rozelle, Balmain, Newtown and Redfern for years. I love the sense of community in the Inner West as well as the food and culture. Glebe Park is a big favourite. My first job was in Chiswick and I’ve worked for Marrickville Council!
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