V.I.P. Australia began in Adelaide in 1972 when founder Bill Vis needed to supplement his income as a door to door salesman for Electrolux. Spotting a lawn mowing contractor arrive and cut the lawns of his sales prospects, Bill decided to start offering clients a lawn mowing service for the coming Saturday.
This proved a popular and successful decision. Soon Bill was mowing lawns all over town and had given up his job as a door-to-door salesman to concentrate, with his brother-in-laws on becoming professional gardeners.Bill was mowing the lawn at the Coles warehouse in Adelaide and at ‘knock-off’ time a storeman made fun of him for being a menial lawn mower man. Bill asked him, “How much a week do you make, mate?”
The man replied, “$200!”
Now it was Bill’s turn to laugh as he said, “I make that in a day!”
The fellow changed his tune and asked Bill how he could get into it. Bill simply invited him to come out with him for a day and try it out.
The man went out with Bill and his V.I.P. Lawn Mowing round, thought it was fantastic, quit his job and bought enough work from Bill to make his own round. Bill said to himself, ”How good is this? How many other people would like to have a lifestyle like mine?” so in 1978 V.I.P. Home Services began franchising.
Bill put deposits on every lawn mowing round advertised for sale in the newspaper. Using pins in a big map he consolidated the customers into close rounds and sold those rounds to franchisees. He taught those franchisees that they were not in the lawn mowing business.
In the days when no-one trimmed edges, Bill did it for free. Bill and Rose believed that if the job was done properly to the customer’s specifications that was just not good enough. There was always an extra kindness or service that could be added to any job.
Bill’s car, trailer, equipment, uniform, footwear and paperwork were always an example of his confidence in the strength of the V.I.P. brand. Anyone who spotted a V.I.P. franchisee in those early days knew they would get a top quality job because their rigs all looked like Bill’s. He and Rose have maintained that high standard by updating the colours and the uniforms over the years to give every franchisee the chance to look as good as the best franchisee in the system.
Today V.I.P. has over 1,000 franchisees across Australia and New Zealand, and has three main divisions; gardening / lawn mowing, home cleaning and commercial cleaning.
I love that startup stories from back then are just as inspirational and without some of the complexities that we have in business now days. Agree?