If you think a gardening franchise is strictly for retirees who want to grow a nice business whilst gently improving their fitness, then think again. Meet Abbas.
That’s him at the top of the tree.
Abbas Ghareeb owns the Jim’s Mowing franchise for Newbury and surrounding towns.
He isn’t afraid of heights.
What’s wrong with the ground Abbas?
Ha ha! I prefer it when my office has a view!
Have you always been interested in Gardening?
Yes, my Parents have always had a very large garden and from a young age I had no choice but to give them a hand. I enjoyed it even back then, but I always preferred doing the more challenging jobs like hedge cutting and of course anything that required me to climb a tree!
I’m not really into flowers though; I’ll save that for when I am feeling old!
What were you doing before Jim’s Mowing?
Well, I was traveling the world working as a Tree surgeon and a Kite Surfing instructor. Australia, Canada, South Africa…
Someone had to do it. Actually it was when I was in Australia that I first came across Jim’s Mowing. My Brother got them in to cut his grass and happily paid them about $40 for what I figured must have been about 10 minutes work! Seemed to me like a good business.
So you came back to Berkshire to buy a Jim’s Mowing franchise?
Not exactly, although that’s what happened. I wanted to set up my own gardening business and use my skills as a tree surgeon to separate me from the competition. Remembering Jim’s Mowing from Australia made me take a closer look at them just to see if I could see any advantages in going down the franchise route rather than doing it all by myself.
Any could you?
I could yes. Mainly the amount of work being part of that big brand would bring in that would be hassle free – I could pay the monthly fee and concentrate on my business. I also thought being part of a professional outfit with a proven track record would allow me to charge a bit more – and it does!
Did you consider any other franchises?
No, I had a look obviously, but I knew for sure I wanted it to be in the gardening sector so it was only ever a choice between Jim’s and doing it by myself. I should tell you, that at this stage everybody was telling me I would be mad to consider the franchise and that I should spend the money on equipment and tools and do it myself, but I knew what I was doing. I actually paid back the loan I got to start the business in the first 6 months and now I just pay the fixed monthly fee and I’m left with a great business, great equipment, great marketing, great support and a much more visible and credible business – I definitely made the right decision.
How did you find them to deal with? Were they welcoming and helpful and supportive?
They really were, yes. They made it really easy and weren’t too pushy and just made sure I had everything I needed to make my decision. I knew they had a decision to make about me too of course, but I think they liked me and were impressed with the skills I already had. Saying that, I still learned a lot from the training – it’s not just about the gardening itself but teaching you how to run your business day to day. The only reason I think Jim’s Mowing is a bigger thing in Australia is because the culture over there is really focused on self-employment being the way forward, whereas people here seem to prefer to be employed.
How did you raise the money to fund the business?
I was pretty lucky to be honest as the Bank of Dad came to the rescue, but it was made clear it had to be paid back sharpish! Fortunately it was and he was really happy he was able to help me out. I know other guys in the network actually found it easier than they thought to secure a loan from the bank because Jim’s Mowing is such a well-known brand.
How was the training?
Really good. I knew most of the normal garden maintenance already but things like the spraying courses were really handy. Also, they seem to concentrate on the things you need the most support in as everyone is joining with a different level of skills – from lots to none at all.
What is a typical day like for you?
Up at 6/6.30; get the tools ready for the van; read and respond to emails and try and be starting the first job at 8am. 9am if it’s a Saturday mind you and I don’t work past 4pm if I can help it! I like to work as hard as possible and go home and enjoy the freedom that I have now that I’m the Boss! Normally I put in a lot of six day weeks just because the work is there and it means I can earn the money I need to support my adventurous hobbies!!
What do you enjoy most about it?
I really enjoy looking after some the more spectacular gardens, I mean some are in really stunning locations. I also enjoy the amount of money I can make just from the simple stuff like mowing lawns. On a good day I can get round 18 gardens ranging from £25 to £40 each. Don’t get me wrong it can be exhausting work and it takes a lot of self motivation to get the tools out of the van for the 18th time that day when your body really just wants to relax.
For me though, nothing beats the thrill of being 90ft up tree with your knees shaking and adrenaline pumping! I’m one of the few guys at Jim’s who can do that kind of work though and I’ve been doing it a long time.
What’s the most challenging part of it?
I guess the weather can be a drag sometimes, but you just have to suck it up – I would never rather be stuck in an office in-front of a computer.
What type of person would best suit a Jim’s Mowing franchise?
Well there’s no point doing it if you hate gardening or being outdoors, that’s for sure! If you like this kind of work then you can take it as far as you can physically handle and then build a team around you. I obviously wouldn’t mange this pace if I was 70! It is your own business and that is a thrill in itself, going after sales, pitching for work and winning contracts – that part can be really rewarding and exciting. Also, I think a lot of guys who do this independently should consider Jim’s because it really does seem to bring a lot more work your way and that’s the most important thing for any business.
Any plans to grow the business, take on a team etc?
I have a second Truck now and I use freelance gardeners and workers when I need to. I’m in the middle of trying to buy a house, but once that’s out of the way I am planning to take on someone else fulltime.
Has it met your expectations? Are you glad you did it?
Very much so, I smile everyday looking at what I have achieved in each job and when I go into my garage and look all my expensive toys! A lot of my friends, even the ones who have great salaries and love their jobs, really are quite envious of the fact I have my own business and am my own boss. Not all of them would be suited to it, but some certainly would – I just wish more people had the drive or the nerve or the bravery to just go for it.
I’m sure it must be hard to leave the safety net of a safe monthly salary working for someone else, but the rewards from having your own business are incredible – and I don’t just mean the money, it’s more about the work/life balance and the control you have over your own life. I would never want to leave it now – it was absolutely the right decision for me!
Abbas Ghareeb is the Jims Mowing franchisee for Newbury and the surrounding towns including Thatcham, Basingstoke, Tadley, Hungerford and even as far north as Oxford. He currently lives in Crookham Common, just out side Thatcham, where he has lived for over 19 years – apart from all the tree climbing and kite surfing around the world that is!
If you would like to find out more about Jim’s Mowing and how you could take complete control of your working life just like Abbas has, the please visit our websitewww.jimsmowing.co.uk or call Suzie on 07793 054233 to arrange and informal chat by phone followed by a catch up over coffee somewhere on your proposed territory with David Hughson, UK Divisional Franchisor UK.