Name: Peter Nixon
Location: Lindisfarne, Tasmania
Franchise: Jim’s Fencing (previously Jim’s Mowing franchisee)
Why did you choose franchising and Jim’s franchise?
It seemed like a smart thing to do! After becoming disillusioned with my job in retail after twenty four and a half years, due to it being taken over by one of the country's largest companies, I wanted to buy an established business.
I picked Jim's Mowing because I thought it was good value for money, compared to some of the other franchises which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for not that much more income in a lot of cases.
After four and a half years mowing I sold my mowing business for a pretty good price which paid for my current fencing franchise and all equipment to get me started without having to borrow any money.
What did you do before taking up your Jim’s franchise?
I worked in retail for 24 years for a successful small supermarket chain with 14 stores, starting at the bottom as a trolley boy after school and worked my way up through the company; department manager to assistant manager to finally store manager.
I thought I was pretty happy there until I retired but then we were bought out by a national chain which caused a rethink over a couple of years as I didn't like the new culture much. I decided it was now or never and so decided to take a punt and see what happens, and here we are ten years later. MY only regret is that I should have done it years before I did.
How did you raise the finance?
I paid cash from holiday pay, long service pay etc from my previous job and savings for my Jim’s Mowing franchise, The profit from the sale of the mowing business got me enough cash to buy my Jim’s Fencing franchise and all equipment to get me started.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing from Jim’s Group?
I got virtually no real training for mowing, a Saturday & Sunday at the franchisor's house and a few days on the job with the guy I bought the business off. The admin back in those days was run from Tassie, and the first six months or so was very tough, hardly any work coming in at all from Jims, I averaged just a couple of leads a week. Kept thinking "what on earth have we done?"
This all changed when Mark and Alex Withers became State Franchisors and the call centre moved from Tasmania to Adelaide, with the system working the way it should, our business tripled in size in the next 12 months.
The fencing training was a totally different kettle of fish, 5 days at the training centre in Melbourne, followed up by seven weeks on the job with an experienced fencing franchisee, good support from Franchisor etc, all in all pretty good.
What is a typical day for you as a Jim’s Fencing franchisee?
On the road about 7.00 am, off to the suppliers to pick up materials and then off to the job for the day, building fences until about 4 or 5.00 pm. During the summer months I try to do my quoting visits after work through the week as much as possible, usually home by about 6.00pm or so, I like to try and keep my weekends free for myself, I work to fish! During winter this doesn't work so well so I write off Saturday mornings for quoting. A couple of hours a night doing bookwork probably 3 days a week or more as needed (my most unfavourite thing in Fencing!)
What challenges have you faced?
The biggest challenge I face I think is to keep myself motivated and your morale up, we all have bad days sometimes, maybe under quoted a job, the weather is lousy, or whatever but you just have to push your way through it and get on with the job.
It's your business and only you can make it work, it doesn't matter how good or not your franchisor or the system may be, your success or otherwise is determined by YOU
Has becoming a Jim’s franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Yes no doubt about that, I'll never ever work for anyone else again as I like being in charge of my own life and not having to answer to a boss. The other big thing is we have never been so well off financially since having our own business.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Ask yourself one question first "Is this what I really want to do?" This is not a job it's a business and at the end of the day some of us are more suited to working for someone else than working for ourselves, it's a big financial commitment and so you need to be sure.
Do your homework and find out what you are buying, are the books in good order? If not don't buy it. Get some advice from your accountant and a lawyer, it could save you from making costly mistakes
Ring up and talk to existing Franchisees, you will be given a list of contacts, talk to them all,
What are your plans for the future?
A couple of years more fencing should see me selling up and joining my wife in her cleaning business, we currently wave to one another as we pass in the street she on the way to work and me home, it would be nice to spend a bit of time together. Pushing a vacuum cleaner for a few hours a night sounds like a pretty easy thing to do compared to fencing.
Would you do it again?
No doubt about that, if I had my time over again I would have liked to start at about 30 years of age, with 15 years retail experience under my belt, I really believe the customer service experience I gained is a big asset to have in any business.