An Australian Franchisee Case Study
Name: Dean Watson
Location: BANJUP, Western Australia
Franchise: Jim’s Fencing
Why did you choose franchising?
I believed franchising (as opposed to starting my own business) was better for me because of the support (initial and ongoing), the branding and because I could still be part of a “team” and not out there by myself.
What did you do before taking up your Jim’s Fencing franchise?
I’d been working for a drilling manufacturer in Canning Vale but wanted to do something different. I’d had enough of the shift work and missing out on family time with my young kids. I made a couple of phone calls to different franchises and found the one that I thought seemed most suited to me. I thought fencing would allow me the autonomy of work/lifestyle balance and still keep my brain functioning. It was never going to get boring, because every fence is different and every situation is different.
My wife (Meesha) had reservations. Meesha was fearful of taking that step away from a regular payment to being responsible for my own success. Meesha told me if I won lotto I could give up work and work for myself. So that is what I did. I won just over six thousand dollars and knew it was a sign. Luckily Meesha agreed. Since then we haven’t looked back.
How did you raise the finance?
My wife and I were renting at the time, and when we first enquired we were given the name of someone who was very good at being able to obtain finance for new franchisees. We spoke to him, and he was able to arrange it all for us.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing from Jim’s Fencing?
When I first started, Jim’s Fencing was very new to Western Australia, and the intake training was very different at the time – just two weeks. It was a very big learning experience, but it was also good for me, because I learnt how to research and find the answers for myself. My franchisor was always there to help, but it is also good to be able to sometimes work the solution out for yourself.
Since then, I am now a trainer and a regional franchisor. New franchisees receive eight weeks paid training! Whilst most fencing styles are covered during this training, a franchisee cannot expect that every situation will be covered, so it keeps you on your toes and still using your brain to nut some stuff out yourself.
What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?
As I employ staff, I typically meet with them in the morning and send them out to the jobs I have booked for them. If I am not on the tools that day, I will invariably be on the road quoting or in the office ordering and booking the next jobs, arranging quotes, or following up and answering people’s queries.
What challenges have you faced?
My biggest challenge has been having too much work. It is very hard to tell people they will be waiting six weeks and up for their new fencing to be built. So I started employing people to try and get through the workload quicker. It was a really good move, because I can get more fences built, have happier customers, and of course have increased my turnover (whilst still only paying one small monthly fee).
Has becoming a Jim’s Fencing franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Jim’s Fencing has definitely changed my life. I can schedule to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I am responsible for my own success (or failure). My family and I have been on several trips since becoming franchisees most notably, we spent a month in Queensland travelling the coast and just last year, we went to Hawaii, Mexico, Las Vegas & LA. More importantly, I reap the rewards of my hard work.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
It is important for new business owners to do all their homework and due diligence before getting into a business:
- Ensure that the business is right for you. Is it something you will enjoy doing?
- Some franchises are better than others – speak to franchisees and ask their thoughts on it.
- Do a trial in the new business – work in the store or get on the tools. Give it a try.
- Investigate brand strength, support (when you start and ongoing) and business systems.
Franchisees have some control over how successful their business is. People can’t buy into a business and expect it will just work – whether it is a franchise or not. A lot of it depends on the person running the business.
A franchise group that has been around for a while will have systems, processes and marketing in place, but it doesn’t mean you will be successful –you still have to work at it.
What are your plans for the future?
My goals are to grow my business further. I want to have more teams out there building fences. Jim’s Fencing in Western Australia has come a long way and WA now knows we are here! There is more work than we can handle. As franchisors, we would love to help more people into business for themselves and to be successful – and to help us with demand!
Would you do it again?