Building a business from the ground up is a momentous challenge, but nothing compares to rescuing a “broken” company, according to the owner and chief executive of James’ Home Services.
Mike Dowling, the founder of commercial cleaning company Just 1 Call, purchased James’ Home Services for an undisclosed amount in October 2015 after the business collapsed into liquidation.
With more than 20 years experience in the cleaning industry, Dowling says he knew what he was getting into.
“I had a look at it and believed it was something I could get into, build, grow and make work,” Dowling told SmartCompany.
Before the liquidation, James’ Home Services had around 200 franchisees in its network.
Dowling is slowly working to build up to that figure again, with 16 new franchises coming onboard in the last six months.
There are around 140 James’ Home Services franchises in Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland and Tasmania, with Dowling hoping to boost that number by around 40 by tackling the WA and South Australian markets.
“I’ve spent over $160,000 on legal [bills] to confirm compliance for the whole business,” Dowling says.
“I’ve spent a great deal of money already to make the business what it is today, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Dowling’s mission when he bought the business was to treat the franchisees properly.
“They’ve seen more of me than they did the previous owner for 23 years,” he says.
“They’ve all got my mobile phone number. They’re more relaxed, we have functions. My goal is to help them grow their business as much as growing the corporate business.”
James’ Home Services has recently been accepted by the Franchise Council of Australia and will soon roll out an advertising campaign to inform customers about the business’s “modern, fresher image”.
As for why Dowling decided to take a risk by buying a franchise network out of liquidation, the business owner says it all came down to the attitude of its franchisees.
“I saw that dedication was still there,” he says.
“The passion hadn’t waned. They were broken, they got damaged, but they still had the passion. And if you have that in business, you can always move forward.”