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Team chat – Sam and Steve

Hear about the experience of two of our business owners.  

It’s easy for us to tell you what starting a business in our network is like. It’s easy for us to tell you about the training and support, the marketing, the work available and all the reasons why joining a franchise network can be a really savvy decision… but, we know, that what actually bears more weight, is hearing it directly from someone doing it.  

So, our Director of Sales, Justin Kelly recently sat down with two of our business owners to talk about what their experience starting a franchise has been.  

Sam owns our James Home Services Lawn & Garden Care – Mareeba & Tolga franchise, and Steve owns our James Home Services Lawn & Garden Care – Upper Coomera franchise.  

Justin: So, Steve, Sam, would you mind just sort of, I guess introduce yourself, explain where you are and what made you look at a life change because it’s pretty major change that you’ve made it is.

Steve: So, I’m Steve Roby and I’m based at Upper Coomera on the Gold Coast.

What made me decide to do it is I was working long hours in the motor vehicle industry, and I wasn’t getting the rewards for the hours I was putting in, the effort I was putting in. I just felt like I was a number the whole time and I just wanted to go out and I thought to myself, if I put in those number of hours for myself, you know, anything possible money wise.

So yeah, that’s what made me, made me jump into it and the lifestyle also to have more time at home and more time to myself was a big factor along with the fitness element as well, because I like to stay active, but our bodies doesn’t allow me to play sports anymore. So, this is a good way to stay active as well. And you’re in a different location every hour or however long the job may be. So, you know, when I was in the office running all the businesses that I ran, I was in the same office for 10-12 hours a day.You barely get outside. So, there have been the major factors for me.

Sam: Hi, my name is Sam Torrisi based in Mareeba, far North Queensland. Previously panel beater by trade and then had enough of that.   Went on to do some farming. Have an extensive farming background, grew up on cane farm so went on to manage a couple of farms and ended up in a local pack shed which in turn ended up being working 70 to 80 hours a week. So, the work life balance wasn’t quite there. So, we started looking for other things, businesses, whatever we were looking for.

We ended up finding James. We did look at starting a business of our own, but James, James Home Services had it all. It had this had the quoting, the computer systems, the marketing. So, it was a no brainer for us. I wanted to look for something that could swing that work life balance back into my favour because being your own boss too was a draw card, a very big draw card. So yeah, it was a no brainer in the end of the day.

Justin: And you enjoyed the change?

Sam: Absolutely loved it and still loving it. So being your own boss, calling it, calling your own shots, managing your own hours, your own holidays, you haven’t got a boss looking over your shoulder telling you what to do, how to do, when to do what not to do, all that sort of stuff.  I’ve had a lot of good bosses in the in the past, but this trumps the lot.

Steve: Yeah, I find it great. I’ve actually, I’ve really enjoyed the time that I’ve had to myself and that’s not by design that was just through you know the drought that we had in the winter. So that aspect of it’s been really good. And I also exactly the same as Sam.  I do enjoy the autonomy of it, and you know, no, no micromanagement. So, you can just like you say you can. You can control your own hours. You set your own schedule, what you want to work to.

So yeah, that part of it. I’m so glad I did it.

Justin: I find there is a perception that if I have my own business, if I’m in a franchise, I can just sit at home and they’re just going to send me the jobs and I just go do the jobs.

What’s your experience, What’s reality?  How do you get your jobs?

Sam: So, when you join James, there is you get trained up in the 51 ways of marketing. So, you basically got to put yourself out on the front line, go and meet people, go and talk to businesses. There’s obviously one way of or couple of ways of getting your name out there. Business knock and drops. Leaflet drops. Yeah, basically get your name out there. It’s and what you put into it; you will definitely get out of it.

So, the James system is proven, tried and tested and I’m pretty sure Steve will say the same thing. It works. What you put into it; you will get out of it with calls coming in. Yeah, calls are always coming in.

I’m in my patch, a big thing is word of mouth your reputation around town.

Steve: I’ve found the social media and the Google business page to be the best by far, so especially Facebook. So, we’re on all the community pages even outside of my area. So, we’re on those and we post every single week on there. And then, you know, I’ll go on and put a comment and bump it as well the next day or whatever that may be. But yeah, so we try to change the picture every week as well. And then also with the Google profile I try to do 2 a week. I put videos on there which is proving quite difficult at the moment because my GoPro is playing up, but I put some videos on there.

I’ve put a lot of photos before and afters and also trying to get reviews, reviews are a big thing as well. In actual fact I’ve been a little bit slack on that of late and haven’t asked for any which I’m going to this afternoon. But yeah, I’ve I think if you get some good reviews on there people do go off that and also find once you get that original conversation with the owner or with their customer you’ve got to do what you say you’re going to do.

So, if you say you’re going to be there at 9:00, you got to be there at 9. And I also find, you know, as I approach, I’m walking up and trying to find something that I can talk about with the customer to make it not like just me turning up trying to win your money. So, if they got a dog, I’ll go and pet the dog. I love dogs, which I do love dogs. And you know, I try, and I try and come across really friendly to the start. And I find that has worked wonders for me also.

Justin: One of the things I find often with lawn and garden guys especially is that they are really not computer gurus, do either of you profess to be computer gurus? Did you have any trouble learning the James systems? 

Steve: I won’t take a guru, but I’ve worked with computers the last 20 years and had to teach myself how to use them. So yeah, it’s all the all the program that we have that is part of James has been pretty, pretty easy for me. That’s not been a struggle whatsoever.

Sam: It was definitely a big concern of mine heading into starting your own business. Previous experience with computers was next to nothing, but we’re talking to Justin and a few of the other guys about the computer system. Butler 2.0 how it interlinks with Xero, the accounting package. It is so user friendly and I can 100% attest to being able to navigate through Butler quite easily.

Invoicing, quoting, punching in all the information as you go, setting up a quote, it is very user friendly. That’s the only way I could really explain it.

Justin: OK, so we’ve talked about lots of good stuff, but what have you found tough? Steve, what’s been for you?

Steve: One of the challenges I’ve, I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and there’s two things that come to mind of late. One is getting traction in my area, Upper Coomera.

So, looking at all my stats, predominantly my work is coming outside my area. So yeah, I’m not sure why because I definitely don’t do flyer drops and all that outside of my area. I do them all inside my area.

  #2 which has come to light last Thursday in particular, it was 38° when I finished my last job at 5:30 PM. And I’ve struggled with the heat, like I’ve had heat stroke a couple of times already and I have found that to be a struggle and that’s with major hydration. Like I have so much fluid and all that sort of stuff and that’s part of it. I expected it, but I didn’t expect it to be as hard as that and it hasn’t been to this point.

So, they’re the two things, but the hydration thing that’s not a real concern because it’s going to happen on the hot days.

Justin: How do you handle the rain? How do you feel the rain impacts your business?

Steve: I actually look at the positive of it, which is weird, and I can only look at the positive at the moment because we haven’t had three weeks of it in a row.  But because it’s so hot and so muggy when you’re out there doing the big days, if I get a rainy day, I’m thinking the heavens because I’ll get to have a day off to recover.

So that’s and that’ll be a day where you’ll do some Google or some Facebook updates or whatever the case may be. I tend to service my equipment on those days as well.

So, I do all my own oil changes and stuff, a big, a big one. Like I’ve got them booked in at Christmas time because I’m going away. So, the big service of the gearbox and that on the mowers I’ll get done at shop.

But all the other stuff I do my air filters all the time I do the oil changes. So, I give them a clean all the time. So, I’ll do that on the rainy days as well. But yeah, I think the rain is a good. We definitely need it.

And coming from a drought to that, like he could literally watch it go green overnight.

Like now I’ve got to try and figure out how I’m going to mow my own lawn because I don’t have time to do it and it’s going nuts at the moment too.

Sam: So, I think I’m in a pretty sort of little unique situation with my patch of Mareeba & Tolga. They’re geographically, they’re about 2025 kilometres apart. So, on any given day when it’s raining, you’d have to be pretty unlucky for the rain to be raining Mareeba and Tolga.

It’s probably happened once.

So, if it’s raining in Mareeba, I’ll do all my Tolga jobs. If it’s raining cats and dogs in Tolga, I’ll do all my Mareeba jobs as much as I can, you know, so some customers would like their jobs done on a certain day.

So, it’s pretty flexible. I’ve set it up so that everybody can, you know, like if, if they don’t mind me coming the next day or the day after, 99% of them don’t care as long as you turn up.

Justin: Well, that’s probably that’s yeah what I wanted to run through today. I guess just in sort of wrapping up, how do you feel now that you’re both sort of a year bit over a year in for you for you Sam.

How do you feel about the decision you made?

Sam: It’s been a no brainer. Absolutely love it. Should have done it 20 years ago. I wish I was. I wish I was 30 years old, not 52. Absolutely the best decision we’ve made purchasing the James Home Services lawn garden business.

Steve: Yeah, I could probably almost mimic Sam’s words there. But yeah, really, really happy that I did it. It’s easy to get up and go to work in the morning. Like it’s it doesn’t feel like work. It’s because I don’t know, I just get up and go, let’s go, you know, have me cup of tea and off I go. And there’s a lot of joy for me in driving around looking at the sights because I’ve been in an office for so long.

So, I’m just so glad that I did it.

I’m in a different location and now with the growth period, the money’s going to be what my expectation would have been as well.

So, yeah, it’s ticked all the boxes for me.

Justin: Fantastic. That’s awesome.

Well, thanks so much both of you. And yeah, look forward to seeing you continue to grow your businesses as we go forward.

If you’ve been thinking about a franchise, why not start with just a simple conversation with one of our team. No pressure, no sales tactics and no obligation, just a chat so we can answer some of your questions and share more information with you. Submit an enquiry and one of our team to give you a call.

To watch the full video of Sam and Steve’s chat to Justin click through to the video below. 

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