Hard-working mum put her energy into a Jim’s franchise and made more than $1m

Sarah Stowe

Inside Franchise Business:Jim's Group franchisee Sharon ConnellSharon Connell was a stressed mother and a health-industry executive when she decided to take control of her life and buy a Jim’s Cleaning franchise in 2013. Within a few short years, she had catapulted to the number-one spot, turning over $2 million in sales and travelling the world.

It all started when her stressful office job was impacting her life so much she would find herself in tears in the toilets at lunchtime, or dreading Sunday nights with the thought of the working week looming ahead.

“I was at my wits’ end and decided to buy a franchise because, at 40 years old, I was too old to have a boss telling me what to do,” says Connell. After investigating several franchises, she decided on Jim’s Group because every point of the contract explained how the franchise would support her and give her the tools for success.

Within five months she was doing so well she took over her local region in Wollongong, New South Wales, and became the master franchisee, building a base of 25 new franchisees within 18 months.

From making a few hundred dollars a week, Connell had grown the business to rake in weekly sales of $4500. Just 18 months later she was able to sell it for $220,000.

Connell then bought the Jim’s Cleaning master franchise for Tasmania and added South-West and North-West Sydney, Outer Western Sydney and all of New Zealand, giving her 120 franchises to oversee.

When she sold this business at the end of the last financial year, it was bringing in more than $2.5 million.

Growing the franchise business

With all this success, Connell is a committed to the Jim’s Group and now manages the dog-wash segment as divisional franchisor. She has grand ambitions: her plan for this year is to grow the 70-strong franchisee network across Australia and New Zealand while spearheading a launch into the UK.

So how has she done all this?

Connell believes anyone with a positive attitude can make their Jim’s franchise profitable. The marketing model and training provided gave her the confidence to take full responsibility and ownership of the franchise and run it as her own business.

“It’s easy – asking for referrals, handing out business cards, doing the work, putting your branded van in areas in peak traffic times, letterbox drops – it all makes a difference and it’s free,” she says.

Connell is keen to help out if other franchisees are underperforming. She recently coached one franchisee who wanted to boost the monthly turnover of $4000, and helped grow the business in less than a year to generate $40,000 a month.

Endless opportunities as a franchisee

The business has become a family affair: 19-year-old daughter Erin has, with a little help from mum, bought a franchise and gone from a weekly turnover of $300 to $1000 within a month. And husband Benn has ditched the night shift in the local coalmine to join Sharon in managing the business.

It has been satisfying for Sharon to see the system working as well for Erin as it did for her.

“The places she can go to are limited only by her imagination, as the opportunities are endless for her. The things you can achieve by starting a business at an early age are huge.”

She says the Jim’s Group provides great opportunities for women seeking a change and for young people who do not fit the school or university model to gain a start in business.

“I didn’t even finish school. I came from a dysfunctional family and it wasn’t possible,” says Connell. “I went back later, which cost me a truckload, and all it got me in my work life was a pay rise of 50 cents a week.”

It has been a different story as a business owner. Connell has sold 130 franchises in 18 months, making her the most successful Jim’s Group franchisor. She attributes this to being positive, hardworking and sticking to the system. “Jim is a smart man, so why not use the systems he’s created?”

Franchisee lifestyle change

While the increased income and confidence have had a big impact on Sharon, the most important change has been in the family’s lifestyle. Benn now has a part share in a light aircraft and Sharon needs not think twice about buying the latest pair of trainers for any one of their three daughters.

She says that having the freedom to make decisions and work your own hours was also a major drawcard.

“I remember what a nightmare the school holidays were, paying a fortune for babysitters, or the kids would be stuck inside while my husband was trying to sleep. My husband and I now enjoy the school holidays with the kids and I don’t stress about how to pay the household bills every month. I just don’t know how we lived that life before,” she says.

“Buying a Jim’s franchise was the best thing I ever did as it gave me and my family freedom.”

I was at my wits’ end and decided to buy a franchise because, at 40 years old, I was too old to have a boss telling me what to do.