David Hughson talks about his own journey into franchising and to Jim's Mowing
David Hughson is the Divisional Franchisor for Jim’s Mowing in the UK, another way of saying ‘CEO’. Although the parent company, Jim’s Group, is based in Melbourne, Australia, David is based in Edinburgh but travels extensively throughout the UK with the occasional trip to meet Jim at HQ.
Having graduated with an honours degree in economics, he started
work as a fund manager in the investment department of a major life
assurance company where he steadily worked his way up the ranks
until finally becoming Deputy Chief Executive of Royal London Asset
- Tell us about the Jim’s Mowing concept?
Jim’s Mowing provides a professional gardening service to domestic and commercial clients with the comfort of back up from the world’s largest garden maintenance organisation. Our franchisees are trained to perform most aspects of work in the garden from grass cutting, pruning and hedging, to lawn treatments and weed control.
- How and when did you become involved with Jim’s
In 2001, my job transferred from Edinburgh to London, which worked well for a while, but with my family staying in Edinburgh, the commuting began to have a detrimental impact. In 2004, I was made redundant and placed on gardening leave and had time to consider my future. After almost 24 years in employment, I was very keen to try something on my own where I was responsible for my success (and my failures) and where the decision making cycle was much shorter. While working in London, I had employed a gardener to look after my own garden but he only turned up when he wanted rather than the regular, once a fortnight arrangement I thought I had agreed with him. As I was now doing my own garden, and doing it quite well, I started to think that there could be demand for a more professional service. As I wasn’t quite 100% confident on how to organise such a business I started to investigate the possibility of investing in a franchise and discovered that Jim’s Mowing, while huge in Australia with over 2,000 franchisees, was just starting out in the UK. To me, that suggested that it was already a proven growth model and the risk was minimal. I signed up in 2006, took on my first employee in March 2007, my second in April 2007, and my third in May 2007. It literally took off.
- What was your background prior to joining Jim’s
24 years in managing pension funds, life funds, unit and investment trusts. With a background in investment, I could see the value of investing in a franchise brand as it would enhance my re-sale value compared to starting out in my own name, as nobody would pay anything like as much for DCH Gardening Services. Although I had been office based and lifted nothing heavier than a phone, I received all the garden training required to launch my business and make enough clients happy to employ six gardeners at my peak. It was quite amusing to be getting paid for climbing trees and getting covered in mud, things that my old man used to give me a clip round the ear for!
- What are some of the advantages in being a Jim’s Mowing
There are so many but to list a few. Being part of a multi-divisional, international franchise organisation, Jim’s Group, which has over 25 years of growth and 3,000 franchise owners, provides comfort. The relaxed, informal approach fits well with our activity but we never lose sight with the fact that our franchisees are business owners in the gardening sector. Thirdly, our comprehensive, all-inclusive franchise package means that there are no unpleasant cost surprises for franchisees as they progress through their launch period. Finally, perhaps more so than with many other franchise opportunities, a gardening franchise is about a lifestyle choice, and a Jim’s Mowing franchise can help finance that lifestyle choice.
- Who is your ideal franchisee?
A happy franchisee. Someone who has used their initiative and effort to put the icing on the cake provided by Jim’s Mowing.
- Tell us a little about the gardening
You’d be surprised just how much demand there is for a professional maintenance service. So many, myself included, have tried the £10 an hour guy and have been let down, and now want someone who’ll turn up when they say they will, and do the job required in a neat, polite and courteous manner. It is seasonal, but it is very difficult to work flat out throughout the whole year, so the shorter winter days come as a welcome relief but there is still plenty of work to be done for those who want it.
- Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for
My mentor is someone who used to be a very good client of mine until I sold my franchise to concentrate on my management responsibilities at Jim’s Mowing. Suzie McCafferty of Platinum Wave is a very experienced consultant in the franchise world and I have been very fortunate to have learnt so many things from her that I can hand on heart say Jim’s Mowing UK would not be where it is today without her.
As for inspiration I look no further than my wife, Wendy. It’s so corny I know, but she has put up with so many things in her life, including me, but she has always supported me 100%, but only after I have taken her through the rational for my proposal. Then it is my objective to exceed her expectations. We can become quite competitive!
- What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire
Do as much research and background checks as you can. Don’t be afraid to meet with the relevant franchisors in the organisations you are looking at as ultimately you will need their help, advice and support so you need to be able to trust them 100%. Ask for the contact details of all their franchisees and do not settle for a selected list.
- In your opinion, why do you think that Jim’s Mowing would be a great opportunity for someone? For someone who wants to throw away the suit and tie, get outdoors and do something physical, and make a good return from doing so, what more could you ask for? Jim’s Mowing provides comprehensive training, marketing and equipment support for people from all walks of life and presents a great platform for them to take their business in the direction that they want. Some just want to work by themselves, others want to conquer the world. Jim’s Mowing can happily accommodate both and everyone in between.
Jim’s Mowing has been in operation for 25 years and
has around 3,000 franchisees currently operating around
the world. The business model suits all ages and both sexes and
offers a highly supported, low risk way to build a valuable asset
and really enjoy the time you spend working.
To find out more - http://www.franchiseexpo.co.uk/franchises/jim-s-mowing