David Wright is the Jim’s Mowing Franchisee for the Radstock, Midsomer Norton, Wells, Bath, Trowbridge, Keynsham, Frome and Warminster areas.
After 31 years service in the Royal Marines and the Police, David Wright wanted to choose a final career that would be fun, flexible and would put him firmly in charge.
What were your initial thoughts on changing career after the Police Service?
I reached the stage in the police where I could retire with a full pension and so it was more a decision on what I could do next and what I wanted to do. Also, I was only 48 on retiring so wanted to do something completely different, I have always enjoyed being outdoors, one of my hobbies was gardening and I enjoyed it, so making money out of doing something I enjoyed was an easy decision.
Where did you go for advice?
I spoke to several local professional independent gardeners, but it was hard to get any solid ‘start up’ advice as the vast majority of them had gone into it straight from school. I was confident enough about finding customers, but I wanted to make sure I knew exactly what I would be letting myself in for in terms of having the right equipment and understanding how to set up a business properly.
What led you to franchising?
I knew very little about franchising to be honest, but in the course of my research lots of gardening franchises popped up on Google. The statistics show that fewer franchisees fail than new start up businesses so that was a great draw to me. I would say I actually became a bit of a pocket expert in franchising by the end!
What were you looking for?
I very quickly discounted a lot of them, as they appeared to be expensive and very restricting. Having worked all my life in the public sector, I was looking to be my own boss, with the extra ‘comfort blanket’ that a franchise offers in terms of training and support.
What led you to Jim’s Mowing?
I had never heard of it before doing my research, so it was honestly just googling for gardening franchises. Once I started to look at the various companies in real detail, it became clear that Jim’s Mowing was a huge company with around 3000 franchise owners around the world. They seemed to offer far more than the competition in terms of initial training, equipment and business support. This was what I was looking for really, I wanted to know that I would have people to turned to for help if I needed it and I really liked the idea of being a part of such a big brand, yet still being my own boss and making my own decisions. That seemed to fit best with the kind of people that Jim’s Mowing were looking for too. It was an easy decision in the end.
What was the joining process like?
Once I had spoken to them a few times and they knew I was serious, I got to call some of the franchisees who had neighbouring territories and that really helped satisfy me that it would work. After that it was just a question of speaking to a solicitor to make sure I understood the franchise agreement, exactly what I would receive and also what responsibilities I would have as a franchisee.
How was the training?
To be really honest, as an enthusiastic amateur, I found some of it very basic. I suppose they have to allow for people joining that have no gardening experience at all. I also undertook my own training with local colleges and gained the required licenses needed for professional gardening. I think most of this is now included in the initial Jim’s training. It certainly gave me a lot more confidence getting started than I would ever have had going it alone, especially on the business side.
How has it been in terms of matching up to what you were looking for?
Better than I hoped, in terms of lifestyle, earnings and progression. I’ve been doing this for 5 years now and the business is still growing. There’s plenty of support if you need it, but the decisions are totally down to me, so it really does offer the very best of both worlds.
Does it suit your Services background?
The communication skills learned as a police officer allow me to communicate with potential and existing customers on their level, from very wealthy individuals to run of the mill working class people (like me), I have never struggled to pitch myself or my business.
You have to be self-motivated and enthusiastic all day every day, but the end product is a higher income and satisfaction and no box ticking whatsoever!
Do you have any advice to give someone considering their options on leaving the Police?
If it is a fun and active lifestyle you want, hard physical work, fresh air, good income and the flexibility to choose when and where you work then there really is no better option.
Jim’s Mowing is the largest lawn mowing and garden maintenance franchise in the world. It was started in Melbourne, Australia, in 1982 by Jim Penman and has expanded rapidly ever since. The Jim’s Mowing franchise was launched in 1989 and now has over 2000 franchisees worldwide, servicing over 10,000 clients every day.