Name of Franchise Owner – David Hughson – Jim’s Mowing Greenbank, Edinburgh
Area Covered by Franchise Owner – Edinburgh South
After being made redundant from the corporate world, David Hughson realised that he had a golden opportunity to do something completely different, something for himself. The thought of running his own business seemed so much more appealing than getting back on the employment treadmill, but he wasn’t sure he was prepared to take the risk of going out completely on his own. Franchising presented the option of being his own boss, but with the support of a team around him and a business model that had already been proven.
David’s background before investing in a Jim’s Mowing Franchise could hardly have been more different. David said “I was Deputy Chief Executive of the asset management division of large assurance company managing around £25bn of investments in equities, bonds and property. I knew that I wanted to do something completely different to my old corporate life, so I looked for something that offered me real outdoor, physical activity”.
David’s research into finding the right business opportunity was extensive. He attended workshops and seminars and contacted numerous franchisors and franchisees. There sheer number of franchise models available was extremely daunting, but he was determined that thorough research and asking the right questions would lead him to what he was looking for.
For David, the main appeal of a franchise was the structure and methodology it offered, all based on a proven business model. “What I didn’t want however was the kind of structure I had before, I wanted a bit of informality, a more relaxed and enjoyable approach to work. It was also important to me that I could find a business where I could really increase its value through my own hard work”. David wanted to find an opportunity where he could sell the business further down the line, giving him what he hoped would be a healthy return on his investment.
With his research concluded, David decided that Jim’s Mowing offered all of this and more. What appealed the most, was how enormously successful the company was in Australia, New Zealand and Canada and that it was only just getting started here in the UK so there was plenty of opportunity to be involved in proving the success of the Jim’s Mowing brand here in the UK.
Before he started, David attended a two-day Jim’s Mowing course aimed specifically at helping franchisees set up their own business. It covered crucial topics such as what being a Jim’s Franchisee involved and the various support systems franchisees could expect. Then came in-depth practical training on the various aspects of garden maintenance. “I was really happy with the training I received, but probably the best thing is how my franchisor handled all the initial marketing to help generate me a steady flow of new clients”.
On reflection, David claims his biggest challenge was having to get used to selling himself. Despite holding a senior position with his former employer, which involved many high level sales meetings, it was always about the company rather than David himself. “With a franchise, the organisation will do a lot to help you, but ultimately it is your business and you have to learn to create your own leads and turn those into customers yourself”.
David’s advice to anyone thinking of getting involved in franchising is to write down on paper what you consider your strengths and weaknesses to be. Ask yourself what you would really like to do? What are you really good at? He suggests getting advice at franchising seminars and to go to the franchise exhibitions. “When you find one you think could work for you, talk to as many of the existing franchisees as possible. Ask them every question you can think of – is it what they expected? Are they getting the support they were promised. What were their biggest challenges in the early stages of starting their franchise”.
David spent a lot of time developing his business plan, even asking existing franchisees what they thought of it. Banks will not normally entertain the idea of providing funding to a potential franchisee if their business plan is poor – no matter how successful the franchise may be. David’s effort paid off and he was able to fund the purchase of the franchise with a mixture of money from his redundancy and a business loan from RBS.
“I have actually expanded my involvement in Jim’s Mowing and am now a franchisor! This involves recruiting, training, coaching and supporting franchisees. I really believe in the Jim’s Mowing brand and how it works as a franchise, so I want to be a part of increasing the number of successful franchisees in the UK and also to further expand the brand. Our Australian parent company, Jim’s Group, has 30 sister brands within the home service market and I know that we can make a success of bringing many of those over here as well in the near future”.