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Melbourne, Australia

From redundancy to being the boss!

An Australian Franchisee Case Study


Name: Ben Sparke
Location: Mt Waverley, Melbourne
Franchise: Jims Fencing, Malvern.

Why did you choose franchising?
After being made redundant from two separate jobs within two consecutive years, the lure of being my own boss was stronger than ever. Looking at many different options, franchising was the most appealing as there was that element of being involved in an existing business model, with the back up support from Franchisors.

What did you do before taking up your Jim’s Fencing franchise?
I was a printing engineer, working on large press machines mechanically, on breakdowns, maintenance, installations and moving presses. Many years before taking up the franchise, the idea of working on my own had always been floating in the back of my mind. But I continued to work through the daily grind of bosses, deadlines and overtime. The printing industry in which I worked was dwindling with a lot of work beginning to be outsourced to Asia. Losing my job for the second time finally prompted me to research the Jim’s group and the franchising model.

How did you raise the finance?
Most franchisee’s that I both spoke before I started, and speak to now, obtained business loans at start up. I was fortunate enough to have funds available following the sale of some property.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
The franchisor in charge of my division at the time, initially ran me through the whole franchise business plan. After speaking on the phone and meeting in person, I was then able to complete a trial day on the tools with an established franchisee. This helped to cement the business ideas in my mind, following up with 8 weeks of on the tools training. There was support available from both my franchisor and the trainers. I find so long as you make the effort other will be willing to help. It is certainly not that case of success falling in your lap – it really is all about what you put in.

What is a typical day for you as a Jim’s Fencing franchisee?
As a franchisee, my day would consist of spending time on the phone, taking potential work through leads by calling customers back to arrange times for quoting. A day of on-the-tools work building fences, followed by admin and quoting in the evenings.

What challenges have you faced?
Apart from learning the balance of cash flow with running of your own business (which is a constant learning curve), the next biggest challenge so far has been dealing with difficult customers who perhaps haven’t understood a quote or have not ‘liked’ the finished product because they haven’t understood the quote to begin with. Best way to negate this has been to make sure they have read, understood and SIGNED all documentation prior to commencing any works. Being strong and sticking to procedures has become incredibly important to maintain cash flow, timing and scheduling of work

Has becoming a Jim’s Fencing franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Being a franchisee has given my life greater flexibility and allowed me the time with the family when I need it. This has been an important factor for me with a young growing family. Although there are certain, and sometime just as many stresses involved in running your own business, there is most defiantly a feeling of freedom where time is only what you make of it.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Best advice would be to make sure you speak to as many people who have had experiences (good or bad) in this kind of business as possible. Really weigh up if it right for your lifestyle. Ask yourself many questions like…Will you have any help and Can you maintain a pace that will sustain a living & cash flow?

Get good and sound accounting advice too, and set up your business in the best way to suit your family & lifestyle.

What are your plans for the future?
In the immediate future I would like to be comfortably booked up with enough work each month to maintain a good cash flow and be able to save enough to eliminate debts and take a decent family holiday.

In the long term future, I would like to perhaps run a crew (taking a step back from the tools myself) and secure some larger contracts with builders to be able increase the business both financially and in reputation. My ultimate ambition is to have a small warehouse for vehicle, tools and material storage – as well as a small office.

Would you do it again?
Yes, I think so. Perhaps I may have tackled a few things a little differently in terms of business set up etc, but being able to dictate your own timeline, take holidays and be available for friends and family when they need me has been invaluable to me.