Michael spent 18 years in the police before following his dream of moving from Reading to Cornwall with his Wife to embrace a new work/life balance.
Michael Wierenga is the Jim’s Mowing West Cornwall franchisee and is based in Helston and covers the villages, towns and City in the South West of Cornwall.
What were your initial thoughts on changing career after the Police Service?
I had always wanted to work outside and not be ‘stuck in an office’ type job. After 18 years in the job we decided that at nearly 50 years old it was time to embrace a change and move to Cornwall for a different life-style. I wanted that lifestyle to involve being my own boss and have the freedom of not doing shift work and having days off cancelled or working every New Years Eve and travelling with football fans around the country!
At first I just moved to Cornwall and tried to find a job that made the most of my police skills, but nothing really presented itself.
What led you to franchising and eventually Jim’s Mowing?
I’m from Australia and franchising is a really big industry over there, so I suppose I’ve always been aware of it. Jim’s Mowing is an Australian company and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It would get me outside, keeping fit, grafting hard but being my own boss. I met up with the Jim’s franchisee in Exeter, and to be honest I used a lot of the careful research he had already done.
What was the joining process like?
It was really straightforward actually. It’s a two way process in that you need to make sure that they are the right for you and they need to make sure you are the right type of person to join the brand. After that it’s about going through the franchise agreement, creating a business plan and getting your finances in place.
How was the training?
The training has been great. They have a lot of specialists who take you through every element of the work you will physically do, after which some people find a bit of a specialist area like landscaping or fencing or maybe tree work. You are then free to pursue any training you like outside of Jim’s. The other side of the training is about how to set up, market and run your own business; this is where it becomes a bit of a no brainer compared to starting up on your own.
How has it been in terms of matching up to what you were looking for?
It’s been exactly as I hoped. I’ve had a great few years so far although I’d like to grow the business even more. Everything in the Jims model is great, especially for getting you started, but like anything else it comes down to how much work you put into it to make it a real success. One of the best things about having a Jim’s Mowing franchise is that I pay a fixed monthly fee that remains the same no matter how big the business gets. It’s up to me then to take it wherever I want to go – one man and his dog in a van working the hours he wants or an 8 man crew with 4 vans working every hour of daylight!
Does it suit your Services background?
As a police officer, I found you are sometimes led to believe that you have very few transferable skills; this is just not the case and the people skills in particular are exemplary and clients sense this and respect this. The hard physical work is a bit different to pounding a beat, or driving a patrol vehicle and you get a real sense of accomplishment every day.
Do you have any advice to give someone considering their options on leaving the Police?
If someone is at the end of a 30 year career, pension coming up soon and looking for a new challenge that will let you be the boss and keep the rewards for all your hard work, it is ideal. It is hard physical work though and can be very busy – but that’s a great feeling when it’s your own business and after a good days work you get to go home and really deserve that beer, especially in the summer. If you are used to someone else (a supervisor up the line) sorting out your problems, then don’t do it. You have to be resilient and self-sufficient. Otherwise, go for it!