Interview with Peter Vajda - Master Franchisor of Jim's Mowing Canada


Oct 08, 2020

Peter Vajda has been Master Franchisor for Jim’s Mowing Canada since 2018.  Jim’s Mowing Canada is part of the Jim’s Group with over 3,800 franchises in Canada, Australia, the UK and New Zealand. Peter purchased a single Jim’s Mowing franchise in Vancouver in 2013, quickly building the organization’s largest franchise expanding to 4 cities in less than 5 years. In 2018 Peter purchased the rights to Jim’s Mowing in Canada and now leads the Canadian team. Since 2018 Jim’s Mowing has expanded at an astonishing pace, adding over 20 new franchises in 2020 alone.

With a degree in economics from McGill University, certification in Psychometrics, and with over 30 years in the sales, operations, and consulting, Peter uses his experience as an entrepreneur, executive, and coach to help his franchisees achieve their personal and professional goals. This isn’t only about business, Peter takes great pride in helping his franchisees live their best lives.

.    What’s the story behind Jim’s Mowing?


Peter Vajda:   Jim’s Mowing was founded in Melbourne, Australia in 1982. Starting as a single mowing route by founder Jim Penman to help pay for his PhD, the Jim’s Group began franchising in 1989 and has expanded into an organization of over 3,800 franchises. The Jim’s Group now consists of 50-plus Divisions across the globe including Jim’s Mowing, Jim’s Cleaning, Jim’s Plumbing and Jim’s Building Inspections.

.    What made you decide to create this franchise?


Peter Vajda:   Jim’s Mowing was founded in Canada in 1997 as a family business. I purchased the rights in 2018 and I’m very proud to say that we are now an organization of over 50 franchisees across British-Columbia, including 15 Franchisees on Vancouver Island.

.    What was your background prior to forming the company?


Peter Vajda:   I’ve been very fortunate in having a very varied and exciting career. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work internationally in Canada, the US and Mexico and I’ve held management and executive positions in a wide range of companies with $50M to $5B in revenue. I’ve worked with some of the best people in Automotive, R&D, and consulting and I owe much of my success to the support of amazing teams and mentors who have been very generous with their time, knowledge and experience.

.     Can you tell us about the Landscaping Market especially through Covid-19?


Peter Vajda:   The market for our services has never looked better and our growth prospects are exceptional. We have continued to thrive through the past two recessions, and we are now doing better than ever through a pandemic. Homeowners have clearly chosen to spend their discretionary income on their homes and outdoor spaces, and we are in a uniquely well-placed position to capture that spending. Our franchisees do not enter client’s homes, work outdoors, and can effectively maintain social distancing between employees on job sites. We are very blessed to be able to continue offering value to our customers through this pandemic.

Our two key demographics, baby boomers who wish to remain in their homes, and double-income families with children, continue to grow rapidly, which translates into a continued increase in demand for our services. So far in 2020 our business is up over 25% over 2019 and we’ve onboarded over 30 new franchisees since 2018.

.    Could you describe your corporate culture?


Peter Vajda:   We are all about living our best lives and maintaining a positive work/life balance. Our franchisees are young (or young at heart), enthusiastic, high energy and outgoing. Many of our franchisees joined us to spend more time with family and their young children. We are all one big extended family, and we have social events like picnics, golf tournaments, and pub nights, and all our franchisees are friends and support each other. We are all on a closed Facebook Group together and the amount of learning and camaraderie that takes place there is really outstanding.

In addition, my background is in Automotive, an industry heavily influenced by Toyota and the philosophy of Kaizen, the pursuit for constant improvement. Our core values are teamwork, fairness, respect, balance, and responsibility and we constantly seek improvement in ourselves and the way we do business to better the lives of our team, our customers, our stakeholders and our community.

Our franchisee selection process is all about culture and values; before we will even consider awarding a franchise, we spend a lot of time making sure a prospect shares our dedication to each other, our customers and our brand.

.    Who or what has been your greatest inspiration?


Peter Vajda:   I’ve always greatly admired servant leaders and unifiers, and I’ve always most respected optimism, creativity and resiliency. I’m a huge history “nerd” and no one embodies those traits better than the great Carthaginian General Hannibal. In 200AD while Rome was conquering the world, Hannibal took the fight to Rome, crossing the Alps from France to Italy with a 50,000-man army and 38 war elephants, in winter no less. In doing so, he unified an army of non-professional soldiers from many different cultures against insurmountable odds and against an otherwise invincible Roman army. While crossing the Alps Hannibal said “We shall either find a way or make one” and that’s how my team and I approach our challenges every day. Success is our only option.

.    What are the advantages in being a Jim’s Mowing franchisee?


Peter Vajda:   That’s a great question, and the question I most often get asked is why would anyone buy a lawn mowing franchise when you can just go out with a pickup truck and a lawnmower and you’re in business. Well, that’s true, but then what?  At that point you only have the ability to cut grass - but there’s many more questions you should ask yourself, like:

  • Where are all my customers going to come from?
  • How much do I need to spend on advertising to bring these customers in?
  • How will I organize my routes and my business to be profitable?
  • What software should I use, and how will I bill my customers?
  • With no reputation how much will I realistically be able to charge?
  • What software and systems will I implement to scale my business?
  • Who, how and when should I hire?

The benefit of a Jim’s Mowing franchise is that we literally have all the answers because we’ve been doing this better than anyone else for over 30 years.  But we also provide so much more.

There are all the benefits that come intrinsically from having a well-established franchisor supporting you of course, like access to a trusted brand, proven track record, pricing power, access to the systems and support, coaching and mentoring to the say the least. But with Jim’s Mowing it’s all about lifestyle. Our franchisees not only get the opportunity to attain financial freedom, but also to live their best lives, and those are not often the same thing. Usually you have plenty of time, or plenty of money, but few have both. Our franchisees choose to take only the jobs they enjoy, make their own schedules and set their own prices. They enjoy all the independence, autonomy and freedom of being a successful business owner, while getting the branding, systems, support, and training that immediately takes them to the next level.

To dig a little deeper, one of the biggest advantages is our brand, with over 20 years of goodwill in the market, our 80+ trailers crisscrossing the province, social media campaigns, and highly targeted advertising, we generate literally thousands of new leads for our franchisees every year. We also focus our advertising heavily in any market we have a new franchisee to help them build their business right from day one. We generate plenty of work for our franchisees and provide generous support and industry specific and business training to keep them running strong.

Other advantages include a very low investment compared to other franchise opportunities. You can basically start a Jim’s Mowing franchise with $25,000 and some savings to carry you through the first 8-10 weeks because the truck, trailer and equipment can be leased right from day one. And that’s pretty much all you need to get started. We also have a significant safety net for our franchisees with our Pay for Work Guarantee (PfWG) where franchisees earning less than $1100 per week can top up their income by offering free services that we will pay for a value of up to $55 per service.

Another huge advantage with Jim’s Mowing is how quickly you can launch. Many franchisees go through the decision-making and due diligence process in under a month and can usually be open for business and taking work about 3-4 weeks after that. We’ve had franchisees go from their first phone call to open for business inside of 6 weeks. Low investment and quick launch are significant advantages to the Jim’s Mowing franchise model.

We also have low operating costs, this is a homebased business so no expensive rents are required, and you can scale up and scale down quickly and easily depending on how much business you’re after.

And I would be amiss not to mention the health benefits of not being stuck behind a counter or desk all day. Our franchisees all enjoy healthy lifestyles with very little stress, including the fact Jims work very close to home. Long commutes and longer hours have been recognized as highly stressing for decades, and I’m very happy to say that our franchisees always work very close to home, which makes each Jim a truly local business, and that’s more important to consumers today than ever.

.    What differentiates Jim’s Mowing from its competitors?


Peter Vajda:   We don’t really have any competitors to be honest. Although there are many great small independent operators who do amazing work, none have the scale, brand, coverage, or trusted reputation we do. We are definitely not the cheapest, we have amazing pricing power, but we definitely deliver to our customers the most value for their money by far. Our highly trained technicians are amazing at what they do, and they are outstanding communicators, responding to calls and texts promptly. Oh, and amazing customer service is religion to them of course.

.    What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?


Peter Vajda:   Do it for the right reasons. You must be passionate about amazing customer service, resilient, optimistic and independent enough to take personal responsibility for your own success. If a Jim’s Mowing Franchise meets your lifestyle goals, then by all means do it.

That being said, don’t ever do it just for the money. I speak with several candidates a week who have a friend, family member or acquaintance who knows a Jim’s Mowing Franchisee, and when they discover their earning potential, their next call is to me. If you don’t enjoy the outdoors and building relationships with customers, you’ll never be good at this, and that means you’ll never make money at it. It has to be about more than just the financial side of it. Put it to you this way, when I do field visits, I’ll often find a Jim whistling while they work.

.  In your opinion, why do you think that a Jim’s Mowing would be a great opportunity for someone?


Peter Vajda:   All our franchisees have a couple of things in common: they all have come to a point in their lives when it’s time for positive change. We have doctors, engineers, technicians who have all, by the time they have reached their 30s, 40s or 50s come to the conclusion that there has to be more to life than the work, eat, sleep, rinse, and repeat cycle.

Our franchisees want much more than a job, so if you’re like them, and have a positive and optimistic attitude and a strong work ethic, we will absolutely help you achieve your best-life goals. We offer the opportunity to live a life that’s meaningful, and we understand the importance of balancing work and family. If you value your physical and mental health our franchisees have no problem managing their weight and there is very little stress in landscaping.  In addition, the hours are whatever you want them to be and you can take 2-3 months off every winter and relax down south if you want to. The effect of your career choice on your health and longevity should not be underestimated, and when it comes to a positive lifestyle choice, Jim’s Mowing could be a fantastic opportunity for the right person.