Jim's franchisee compliance

Why Jim’s is tough on brand rules and why franchisees benefit

Sarah Stowe

You will rarely hear complaints from Jim’s Group customers that their booked-in tradie has failed to show up. That’s what makes this brand distinct – consistency, and great customer service. And it pays dividends for the franchisees.

Robust procedures for customer service and complaint management ensure that everyone knows what to expect; from the customer to the franchisee, the franchisor, and ultimately group founder Jim Penman himself.

“Compliance, customer service, our feedback surveys and the brand all together encompass what we call brand protection,” says chief operating officer, Rocky Aloi.

“Brand protection is about transparency. Customers get a feel and a consistent message and service. It isn’t just about signage and uniform.”

Jim’s franchisees’ compliance

Jim’s surveys customers within nine days of booking a job, asking for feedback on customer service and brand specifics such as the appearance of a vehicle and uniform.

Slack customer service rather than poor workmanship is the number one reason for complaints.

“It would be naive to think we don’t have several franchisees with incorrect signage or branding but we address any failures immediately,” Rocky says.

He cites McDonald’s as the best example of global consistency. “McDonald’s proves if you do it well and consistently well, you get a great outcome,” he says.

While he acknowledges that life is a nuanced experience, Rocky believes when it comes to business compliance, it’s a black and white situation. That means maintaining processes and procedures and not making exceptions or creating precedents.

Back-up processes

“We focus on our premium service level and not steering away from it. With our two hour mandatory call back times, if we said two hours and 15 minutes is ok, it opens up a massive issue. As much as franchisees don’t like it, we won’t veer from it,” he says.

The Jim’s Group has back-up processes for those times when franchisees are unable to follow a standard procedure.

“We don’t allow any form of excuse because we have plenty of communication tools to use even if someone is ill, or there’s been a family emergency,” Rocky explains.

“With our system, franchisees can make a direct phone call to the customer, contact the call centre and ask them to contact the customer, or text the franchisor support network.”

Jim’s is also implementing technology to further improve customer service.

“We’re putting software in place to streamline communications, providing an automated mechanism to alert clients a franchisee is on their way,” he reveals.

Franchisors must obey the rules

While franchisees must deliver on brand consistency, the master or regional franchisors who head up each Jim’s Group industry brand must also meet mandatory requirements.

This includes making weekly, fortnightly and monthly calls to franchisees. They must hold regular meetings with documented agendas. Franchisors need to follow up any issues within one business day.

“Compliance data is something the franchisor must adhere to and there are ramifications for the franchisor’s failure to do this,” Rocky points out.

Compliance discounts

Jim’s provides franchisees with compliance discounts based on service levels and customer feedback. If a franchisee fails to pay fees on time, doesn’t meet signage or uniform standards or has excessive complaints, they lose their monthly discount, which can range from 15 per cent to 25 per cent of fees.

“We dangle the carrot of compliance discounts to encourage good service across the board,” says Rocky.

It is the same for the master or regional franchisors if they fail to deliver the full service to franchisees. Franchisees are the franchisor’s customers and they too are surveyed for feedback.

“We are quite strict on franchisors. If you are willing to accept fees from a franchisee you sell to, you must provide them with the support and service level they need.”

Social media policy

For territory-based businesses, online promotion provides a different challenge. Jim’s successful social media policy gives franchisees more freedom to utilise social platforms, which boosts the brand but requires greater policing.

“The hardest thing is to manage this to a point that allows protection of franchisees’ territory rights,” points out Rocky. “We allow franchisees to use the Jim’s brand and create pages, and offer free services, but they cannot promote their own business. Customers must still contact the call centre.

“We’ve found a way to embrace social media that give franchisees great exposure but still protects them.”

Adherence to the Franchising Code of Conduct

Above all of the brand compliance sits adherence to the national mandatory Franchising Code of Conduct. This sets out rules for the relationship between franchisors and franchisees.

“It is paramount we are Code compliant, that’s our number one protection. Franchising is the best way for anyone to get into business as a first timer. But if someone impacts the brand, that impacts another 5400 others,” says Rocky.

“In the past we have misinterpreted things in the Code and immediately addressed the issue,” he says. “We always ensure our franchisees and franchisors are adhering to the Code.”

Jim’s franchisee training and induction, ongoing support, and constant reinforcement of the need for compliance ensures everyone in the group knows what they have to do.

Rocky says Jim’s Group franchisees recognise the benefits of observing rules and regulations.

“They realise how lucrative it is to provide a premium service and that depends on consistency and compliance,” he says.