We spoke to Mike and Marie Downey, owners of Gutter-Vac Adelaide Central, Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Outer North, and Northern Territory, to find out how they became Gutter-Vac franchise owners, and about their journey since their very first day.


What was your occupation before owning a Gutter-Vac franchise? What made you decide to change?

Marie and I both came from a Management/Administration background, covering roles in Finance, HR, IT, Accounting, Legal and anything other people didn’t want to do!

What were you looking for in a franchise business?

We had owned a small business (hotel) for about 24 years before looking to buy a franchise business. We had not been involved in the world of franchising before. The main focus was to develop a business we could grow that would have financial and lifestyle benefits.

When you were initially looking for a new franchise business, what were your deal breakers?

The consideration that got us over the line was a comment from our brother-in-law who stated that we should look at a business where customers and businesses: Couldn’t do physically, weren’t able to do, didn’t have time to do, but it had to be done. Gutter-Vac’s services fit perfectly and this is still the case 10 years on.

What were the key reasons you bought a Gutter-Vac franchise?

The business needed to have an approachable franchisor, greenfield territories available and growth opportunities.

When did you know a Gutter-Vac franchise was right for you?

Early in our discussions with Warren.

At what stage did you want to expand your territory and how did you do this?

Adelaide was initially made up of six territories, with one of the territories owned by another franchisee. We saw the opportunity for a wider footprint and purchased two territories initially. We had rapid growth in the first 12 months, and we decided to purchase two more territories. After four years we made enquiries about the Northern Territory for Defence Base cleaning and it just took off like a rocket!

What’s something that has surprised you about your Gutter-Vac franchise since purchasing it?

The friendliness and willingness of both the Franchisor and Franchisee colleagues to assist with answers to operational problems.

Has it changed your work/life balance?

It sure has! It has been financially rewarding for us, but in the same breath, we have worked hard to build a great little business from zero. We are currently in a “transition to retirement” phase and what we have managed to do will see the work/life balance fall more towards life rather than work.

Did Covid impact the operation of your business?

Covid was not a major problem for us. In fact, we had our busiest year in business. More people were working from home watching their gutters overflow during heavy rain… it was very good for our business. South Australia was not heavily impacted by the COVID restrictions.

What’s one thing that has contributed to the success of your business?

Doing more than it takes to deliver fantastic service. Be proactive and able to think quickly on your feet.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in buying their own Gutter-Vac franchise?

Develop a good rapport with your clients, both on a commercial and residential basis. Never say never… or at least, try not to say never!


To start your own exciting Gutter-Vac journey, contact our Sales Agent, Keith Billiau, at 0424 710 101 or find your territory here.