Interview with Clive Wilbraham from Jim’s Pool Care in Sydney North West
Thanks for speaking with us Clive. Can you tell us about your background and career? Were franchise opportunities something that always interested you and why did you pick Jim’s Pool Care in particular?
My background was in the computer industry and I ran a Computer Service Bureau & Software House. I sold the business to a couple of entrepreneurs who had also purchased another business which we collaborated with, due to a mutual interest in a particular programming language.
I wouldn’t say that franchise opportunities had always interested me. It was more that I was in my early 50’s and thought I would be wasting my time applying for employment opportunities. A business was more appealing.
I came across Jim’s Pool Care by accident. I decided to go to the Franchise & Business Opportunity Expo at Darling Harbour in Sydney to meet a guy I had been speaking with about a juice bar franchise. When I picked up the expo directory I noticed Jim’s Pool Care was on show. I had no idea that Jim’s was into Pool Care but thought it sounded like something I could do.
What advice do you have for someone looking to run a franchise for the first time? What’s the key message you tell new franchisees? How do you grow your customer base?
Joining a franchise allows you to start your own new business, but you also immediately inherit the huge amount of respect that your franchise and brand has already developed. It is a great start. Not only with your prospective clients, but also with peers in the industry – especially suppliers.
My advice to new franchisees is to respect the system that has been developed for you. Follow the proven path and follow the system. Inject yourself into the business by being honest beyond reproach, respectful to those you deal with and don’t be afraid to lean on those who have gone before you.
There is no shortage of clients who need an honest and reliable service. Be the person who goes out of their way to provide excellent service and you will be successful.
You currently have franchise territories available across Sydney’s North West? Which areas do you specialise in? What are some of the factors that make these regions unique?
When I started in November 2005, I was the first Jim’s Pool Care guy in Sydney. I was a Franchisor who operated a Franchise in Sydney’s North West. While I could sell franchises, I wasn’t thinking of trying to until I knew that this business could be successful. I also needed to make a living like anyone else and had a family to raise and a mortgage. I focused on building up a business that provided services to pool owners.
It soon became obvious I was providing a service that people embraced, but it took me a few years before I actually sold a franchise. Over the years I have sold a few more franchises. The pleasing thing is that each of the incoming franchisees built a business from scratch and they are all flat-out, all year round.
As a result of those successes there are now some great opportunities for incoming franchisees to walk into a business with a regular client base from DAY ONE. This includes the North West and also the North Shore.
Each of us operating in those areas now, built our businesses from what we call “green field” territories, starting with no clients. The next wave of franchisees can walk in and benefit from a client base straight away.
How supportive were Jim’s Pool Care when you first started your franchise?
I first did the generic Jim’s Franchisee training at the Group Headquarters in Melbourne and then went to Perth and attended a ten day Pool School put on by our Divisional Franchisors. Back then, as now, the emphasis was on ensuring the trainee (me in this case) was as prepared as possible for the duties he would be performing. I was learning a whirlwind of exciting new things, but of course, it was just the start of the long journey of discovery that everyone follows in their lives.
I will never forget the very first customer I went to after my training on pumps, filters, chlorinators & water chemistry. This customer had an in-floor cleaning system and specific plumbing that I had never seen before. I quickly realised that all pools are not the same. I survived that shock, and incidentally, that very first customer is still a customer today, nearly 12 years later.
Jim’s Pool Care is like a family. We all look after every family member who might come across something new for the first time. All of our suppliers are equally keen to help us out whenever we need something.
What major industry trends should franchise buyers and sellers be looking out for? What’s your take on where your industry is heading?
When I first started, I knew I would provide a good service. I was very comfortable in the service industry. What I wasn’t sure of was the likelihood that pool owners would want to use my service. While I found that not everyone needs to use such a service, there is an extremely large market of people who do need help. You can make a nice business out of helping these people. The trend towards home services seems to keep growing.
The fact that we are a mobile service is also a winner. We are on the ground, at the pool, with the equipment and seeing first-hand what the issues are. I also see a lot of mothers who want to ensure their children have a clean and healthy pool to enjoy. Because they know their husbands are busy working and don’t have time to take the best care of the pool, they are comfortable having someone come to the home and take that responsibility. The family can enjoy the pool whenever they want and the parent’s weekend down time can be spent relaxing rather than last minute pool remedies. I only see that trend continuing.
Tell us about any hurdles you may have overcome along the way, and what have been some of your prouder moments as you’ve grown your business?
I’m a Franchisor as well as a working Franchisee. This means I have to allocate sufficient time for my role as Franchisor. Early on I knew needed help in my Franchise and allowed it to grow by adding staff as required. I have been blessed with excellent people working with me and have grown to four vehicles on the road and a lady helping me in the office. She was initially a customer. It makes me proud when clients make a point of complimenting my service techs. I am also equally proud of the franchisees who have developed their own successful businesses in our region.
What’s the best part of your job? What drives you to do what you do?
I truly love providing a great service in a field that people very often need help with. It is very satisfying to help people who are struggling with something that should provide them great joy.
Thanks you for your time.
You are very welcome. I know that a lot of people have a pre-conceived idea that pool service only happens in Summer. This is so far from the truth. We need more guys in Sydney. We have so much un-serviced work coming through our call centre it can be embarrassing. I hope you can help some worthy people to come and find out more about this great business.
About Jim’s Pool Care
Jim’s Pool Care is ready to grow and have a fantastic opportunity for servicing all over Australia – they are looking for a Franchisee who is ready for a change in their life!The Jim’s brand is recognised by 94% of Australian adults & coupled with the accrued business acumen and proven systems, your business will have an enormous head start over your competitors.
Jim’s Pool Care provides you with the opportunity to work outside, the convenience to work your own hours cleaning & servicing pools. You can be your own boss and build & manage your own business without limit.
Jim’s Pool Care will be there to help you reach your goals, with full training and ongoing support. So if you are ready to grow a successful business then they want to hear from you today.