Franchising on the road…

Having been through several recessions and challenging business environments in Australia over the years, the one thing I have found is that when the economy begins to emerge from a difficult period, there are enormous opportunities for the franchise sector, especially that part of the franchise sector offering simpler, low-cost service units.The disruption of COVID we are settling into will not be an exception. There are already signs of a sharp increase in demand for low-cost, niched service franchises and I believe this will only increase as we move forward. And mobile service franchises will fit into this category perfectly.


  1. So many of us have had time at home through mandated or other forms of lockdown and this has given us the opportunity to reflect on the lifestyle we want for ourselves and our families
  2. Associated with the lockdowns, many of us have also had stretches working from home and being with our families for extended periods of time. For many of us, the less stressful working environment and reduced commute has been a welcome relief. And the closer relationship with family has come as a welcome surprise.
  3. We have not travelled or had opportunities to spend on luxuries, so savings are up, a lot
  4. Many of us have seen a significant increase in the value of our homes and the resulting growth in our equity
  5. Many have lost jobs but benefited from redundancy payment lump sums

The net result is, so many more of us are cashed up and looking to change our lives, no longer wanting to be beholden to the 9 to 5 work in the city. Many of us are looking to work from home. We want to control our own destiny. We want the flexibility to organise our working lives so we can take the kids to swimming lessons or watch them play soccer, working around these events.

And the move away from employment into a business of our own fits the bill.Well…

  1. Obviously, something we can do from home, or a home base
  2. For most this will be the first step into business, and we will have no idea how to make it all work. So, we are looking for something where we will be given the opportunity and training to be successful.
  3. We are also looking for something we will enjoy doing. Something that fits our abilities and interests and often something that will make a difference
  4. Most importantly, many will be looking for something they can grow into a career path or business growth opportunity

Many will be happy to take on a greenfield site, work hard to build it up and then sell with a good return and more business experience and move on to the next project.

Others will be looking for a career path within a group such as Poolwerx where franchisees start with a mobile van franchise, servicing pools. They are then given the opportunity to grow their business skills so they can manage several mobile units and then on to owning a shop, managing the retail outlet as well as all the mobile units in the territory.

Training in the best franchise groups such as this starts with the technicalities of servicing a pool but fast moves onto business coaching, dealing with staff management, financial control, local area marketing and more. Poolwerx’s long-term multi-unit franchisees (many stay on for 20 years or so) are very sophisticated business owners.

Jim’s Mowing is the archetypal franchise which fits this category.

Jim’s first group just provided a lawn mowing service. No gardening. No rubbish removal. His franchisees just pushed a lawn mower each day.

In those days, Jim also made sure he organised the way the group ran so the franchisor support office did all the marketing, took all the calls, made the bookings, invoiced customers, and took payments. Support also managed all the books. Why? Because he wanted each franchisee to be mowing lawns as much as possible every day because it is the mowing which brings in the money. He didn’t want his franchisees, or their partners distracted by business tasks they would not be so good at. Or spoil their weekends doing that chore.

Today, Jim’s is made up of over 50 service divisions and there are over 4,350 Jim’s franchises Australia-wide.

I am watching the building industry do the same thing. Specialist mobile franchises are emerging in the niched home building and renovation market. Gutter cleaning, gutter installation, kitchen cabinet supply and installation, roof restoration, outdoor pergola and decking, holiday letting, etc.

The same thing is happening in the medical industry. Remedial massage to the aged community, ear cleaning and care, home care services.

And in the cleaning industry I see niched franchises servicing strata units, domestic cleaning, commercial cleaning, window cleaning and so on.

The list is long.Jim really hit the nail on the head all those years ago when he set up Jim’s Mowing.1. Niche it.

Choose one or two elements and deliver to your ideal market. Select the most profitable and easiest part of your business to franchise. Don’t try to franchise the whole lot unless you have very good reason to, and then maybe you have more than one franchise group. Window cleaning and then gutter cleaning is a case. 2.Help your franchisees focus on the job and bring in the money.

2. Help your franchisees focus on the job and bring in the money.

Work out the characteristics of the person you want to deliver the service to your customer in a way your customer will love. This means they must have the skill and personality to get the job done well and to relate to your customer base.

3.Then take away the tasks they hate and will be distracted by or which they will ignore.

Today’s digital business environment makes this part of the job for a franchisor easier – provided you have the skills. And if you don’t, bring in staff with the skills to handle the tech. None of us with growth aspirations can handle a business today without a good technical base.

Marketing, lead generation, sales, POS systems tied into a central accounting system, stock control, customer service, central call service – the list goes on.

4.And provide support to your franchisees

Build the relationship, provide training, and make sure your franchisees are doing everything correctly – your way.

But don’t forget, you need to keep your franchisees accountable and compliant. Make sure you have good ops manuals to help them do things your way.

Your main job as franchisor is to train and support your franchisees to become as happy and profitable as they can possibly be within the rules of the franchise group. That way you will be happy and profitable too.

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