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JIMMY JOHN’S Franchise Complaints (Part 2)

Jimmy John’s Franchise, LLC is a franchised sandwich restaurant chain, specializing in delivery.  The initial investment for a Jimmy’s John’s franchise ranges from  $325,500 – $555,000. Jimmy John’s franchise complaints includes overly expensive training, inadequate marketing, a dictatorial franchisor, a negative company culture, an overpriced buildout, a lack of consistency, high food costs, and more negativity.  See what anonymous Jimmy John’s franchisees have to say… and share your own comments below.  Photo credit:  Don Sniegowski

Also be sure to read JIMMY JOHN’S Franchise Complaints (Part 1)

(UnhappyFranchisee.Com)     Jimmy John’s Franchise, LLC is a franchised sandwich restaurant chain, specializing in delivery. Jimmy John’s was founded in 1983 in the college town of Champaign, Illinois, home of the University of Illinois, by Jimmy John Liautaud.   Since then, the company has grown to more than 2,500 locations in 46 states.  98% of the locations are franchise-owned.

The Jimmy’s John’s franchise initial investment for a single store ranges from  $325,500 – $555,000

Jimmy John’s charges 6% Royalty and a 4.5% Advertising Fee.

The Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints in Parts 1 and 2 were submitted by an anonymous franchisee and reflect the opinions of the anonymous submitter alone.

We neither confirm nor dispute this franchisees opinions

What do you think?  Share your opinion of the Jimmy John’s franchise opportunity below.

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints – received by an anonymous submitter

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 Some of the other issues you will come across while owning a Jimmy John’s:

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints:  Lack of Consistency. 

Jimmy John’s preaches about consistency, but yet they change things all the time with testing out products without even telling customers for example with the bread, Dijon mustard, meat weights, jimmy mustard, etc…  But if you have an idea that would work best in your market. NO it has to be brand consistent.  One consistent things is never any new sandwich, cookie, or chips, side items.  They even advertised this for some reason “33 years’ same sandwich” They never seem to add anything to help draw in new sales or give a customer a new experience.  Just the same thing every day.  Heaven forbid you should ask about that chicken sandwich.  They also come up with new rules before even updating the operations manuals, but will hold your team accountable to following these new rules.  Been doing it one way for years, they change it and expect everyone overnight be able to change the way they do things.  This is even for small things like slicing the bread correctly, wrapping the sandwich, etc.

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints:  Marketing.

NASCAR:  Jimmy Johns spends most of its marketing budget on NASCAR.

The stores see little benefit from this, in fact you will rarely see anything in the stores related to Nascar and Jimmy John’s.   On race days they will give away promotional items, but only at the race track.   You can barely find any merchandise with Jimmy Johns/Kevin Harvick at retailers it’s all Budweiser/Busch  & Harvick.   Some states don’t have NASCAR tracks and some regions NASCAR is not even really a thing.  Larger companies then Jimmy John’s have abandoned the NASCAR scene, as they found that it was not the best for its marketing dollars.  A smaller company like Jimmy John’s keeps pumping more than half its marketing budget into this.

“Leave the marketing to Jimmy”  If you want to do local marketing, again you have to go through hoops to get anything done as they have such specific rules on everything.  You want to do a fundraiser night were YOU will donate a portion of the sales to an organization.  Have to get approved first and can only be done during certain time, certain day.  For fundraising they won’t even let the group use our logo on their social media advertising.

If you want to participate in an event and need a logo.  Even though you can pretty much grab one of the internet, they get upset if you don’t go through them.  Saying it’s a brand image.  Even though this brand image is inconsistent.  How is it inconsistent? They have 3 different logo’s.  The old school (which only people in the original market know), then the newer logo, but some say “gourmet” and some don’t.

If you want something customized for you in printing or would like to change something on their pre-approved image.  No, brand image and will not change.  Even if you have a legitimate reason, that makes sense.

They teach you to leave the marketing to Jimmy.  But the fact is that they fail in this area.  They think that if you follow their systems and procedures 100% that this will bring in the customers.  When you read most of the complaints on social media, besides maybe someone messed up a sandwich it is mostly comes down to: Their policy’s, this includes lack of menu creativity to bring in new customers, not offering things that most restaurants offer, not catering to all age groups, and the biggest one…small delivery area.

Cost of marketing is another issue:  Menu’s and stickers these are a huge added expensive.  They include a menu with every order (that is bagged), They use a High Quality paper that 8/10 people probably throw away and these cases the menu’s come in are heavy….so get ready again to pay a ton on shipping.  Speaking of shipping, they also have stickers that they use when wrapping the sandwich paper and these are not cheap themselves nor are they cheap to ship, as again its coming from Illinois.

Guerilla Marketing: They have this available, Jimmy John’s corporate will send out a couple of marketers to sample your delivery area at local businesses.  They are great, probably the best marketing thing you can have.  The issue is fairness.  Some owners get them over and over, where other owners have not even had them once.  There is no set criteria laid out for to qualify, just that your Business Coach has to suggest them.  So again you have some young person(your business coach) that if they don’t like you, they make the decisions that help grow your business.

Coupons & Advertising:  They don’t allow coupons.  Jimmy says his brand does not need gimmicks….Maybe he didn’t see comps this last year.   Coupons are a great way to see what advertising works.  They also don’t allow you to advertise in publications that are mailed out, because they want you to use their overpriced printer and those great expensive shipping costs.

Marketing department is not creative in designing and are only good in social media.  The issue is that social media only helps retain customers.  They do not bring in new customers unless you’re paying for ads on social media which they do this as well.  Marketing department employee’s a group of people just to scour the social media looking for negative things said by employees to have them take it down, when the worst thing done on social media is by the founder himself in relations to hunting.  They also lie to customers on Social Media when the make complaints and tell them things like “we wish we could deliver” (they are the ones limiting the delivery range), “Be patient we are trying to expand” (NO, we are not.  Some cities it does not make since to expand in), “we don’t do gimmick’s”(but have a $1 Sub Day)

A lot of people don’t know about all the good quality Jimmy John’s is, with all natural meats, fresh produce.  Consumers are looking for this, but marketing tends to only focus on “delivery” in which we are horrible at compared to every other nation chain that offers delivery.  They said that they were going to focus on this more, that was over a year ago and still same old “delivery” commercials.

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints:  The Building. 

When you’re doing your build out of your new store and sunk hundreds of thousands into, Jimmy Johns is there to guide you through the process.  Problems though are that they are too specific on requirements and some health departments require different things.  They also don’t do the building plans to 100% ADA compliant and if you are inspected you may have to redo things at your own expense.

The biggest issue is that these stores are too elaborate for a sandwich shop.  By the time you’re done you have spent over 300K-400K to build the inside of a store under 2000 square feet.  Then in 10 years you have to remodel.  But between then anything is scratched, or chipped you must replace (no matter if in customer view or not). This also seems to only apply to franchisee’s as the corporate stores I have been into are disgusting.   So you been built and running your store and sales are good, we’ll Jimmy John’s can sell a location even if it’s in your delivery zone, now shortening your customer base.  Again, they don’t care that your losing money, as long as they are making more money selling another franchise.

Recently they have scaled back some of the expenses on opening a new location to get the costs down.  They took away the comical feel that many people enjoyed(Signs, etc..) Even though the signs didn’t cost that much.  Its all the tile work, tiles from ceiling to wall(Special ordered tile).  They did this in thinking that this would help with opening more locations.  But the issues is the operating cost as well.  These stores are running horrible labor compared to other food establishments.  Everything they seem to come up with, is labor intensive.

But wait, there is the refresh.  After 10 years, they require you to remodel.  So just when you get your first loan paid off, bam.  These remodels don’t just cost you money to remodel, but lose on revenue.  They make the franchise close during the remodel.  Most companies do these at night for a week or two.  But instead you must shell out 40-75K and lose out on maybe a weeks’ worth of revenue.  Not to mention possibility of losing employees since they cannot work for a week.

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints:  Delivery Zone.

Then comes one of the biggest complaints that franchisees get and that’s the delivery zone.

Jimmy is so set on speedy delivery that they limit the delivery area to only about 1.5-2.0 miles away from the store, which is based off time of 5 minutes to get there and 5 minutes to get back.  That’s it, cut and dry.  It is also not even that simple as its 5 minutes from the furthest distance, so if your house is only 4 minutes away, it still can be cut off because they cannot reach the back of your neighborhood within 5 minutes.

You could live straight up the same road within 5 minutes, but no because that’s not how they do there delivery map.  Does not matter what the demographics are in your area (you could have 1,000 people per square mile or lucky and have 10,000 per square mile) your delivery zone is the same.  You could have a lake taking up a big section, they don’t care.  They actually drive the area before you open and set your area (NOT during your site survey…only after your store has been built).  They also fly someone in that does this, not someone that knows the area.  So this person, not from the area gets to set your livelihood and financials based on how fast they can get somewhere (and pray its not going to snow or your screwed).  This is another thing they inspect during your “Audit” is checking all your deliveries to see if they are in the area.

Even if there is not another Jimmy Johns for 50 miles, they don’t want you going beyond their approved area.  So if looking to open up because you think it’s a great location and just minutes from the hospital.  Well keep your fingers crossed that you can deliver there.  Jimmy John’s does not seem to realize that there are not too many sandwich delivery companies to choose from and does not realize that some people just want it delivered and don’t care if it takes 20-30 min.  The sandwich companies that are offering delivery, go to were the customer is.  They also don’t realize that in some cities financially it does not make since to open multiple locations as this is what they usually push for, instead of just opening up the delivery zone.

Good luck requesting an expanded delivery zone…

You can ask for your area to be widened (still has to be in the 5 min), you might be saying to yourself, “you mean they didn’t give you the 5 min. the first time”?  Exactly that “Opening specialist” does not care and may have shorted your area even up to a minute or two sometimes because they don’t feel that it will help or is enough customers.

You can ask your business coach can look into it (hopefully again they like you).  So, you then must hope that you’re on the good side of your business coach and Tim Asire at the corporate office.  But, they can still deny it for other reasons.   They don’t have a set in stone what needs to qualify for this.  Then if approved you must spend money advertising that you deliver there as you probably already been telling “would have been customers”, that someone now lets you deliver. Even though they should have been included in the first place.  Some companies also have special variances for LARGE catering orders, why not you’re going to make more money correct.  Jimmy John’s corporate don’t care and so this is a NO.

The delivery map is super confusing for employees and customers.  Most companies just say for example that they deliver 3.5 miles away.  This way it is fair to everyone.  The have a Radius.  But Jimmy John’s spends so much time on something that should be so simple.  Your delivery map will be all cut up and makes no sense to consumers.  You may be able to go one way 4 miles, but then only 2 the other.  This just makes more consumers irritated.  This does not matter if there is not another Jimmy John’s for another 10 miles either, Corporate does not care.

Other Delivery brands focus on their delivery on how to make it better.  Jimmy John’s fails in this.  They make delivery difficult.  They don’t put technology into it.  A lot of other companies have set boundaries (that are easy to understand), but if owner wants to deliver outside of it, that is okay(as long it’s not into another stores territory), the owner wants to make more money how is that bad, and Jimmy gets his cut.

Update on Delivery Zones: it has been told that they are considering widening some delivery zones.  But again, they cannot make it a simple process and just say “deliver where you want” or you can drive 3 miles and just draw a square or circle and then still have some leniency if their is no other Jimmy John’s in the area.  No, they make the process aggravating.  First, your business coach has to give the okay(so again hope your friends), corporate will still drive it to make sure it is okay (let’s hope traffic is good that day).

But to make it worst now you must pick which customers are more important as they will not let you expand in all directions, instead you must choose.  This is just going to upset more consumers.  So, I you can go 5 miles one way but only 2 another, how does this make since to the consumer without them thinking, I am not important enough.  To top it off, in order to get this done you have to sign a document that says you will not sue Jimmy John’s for any past issues.  Like hanging money in front of your face but making you decide on making more money or signing away your rights.

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints:  Sustainability

 Jimmy John’s says that they are great for the environment (they have it one the web site).  But they yet I have seen some stores not even recycle.  They have these daily punch lists that are about 10 pages that are full of things to check off and you have to print them off for each day.  That’s over 3650 copies a year just for one store (and that is just for this one punch list).  They could just laminate one and re-use each day or use technology and have it on the POS system.  Heaven forbid you don’t print off to many ahead of time, because they like to change the punch lists all the time.

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints:  Human Resources  

Human resources is a nightmare.  There so many rules with uniforms, piercings, etc… Making it hard to find good employee’s that meet these standards.  Instead you end up hiring people left and right trying to find the good ones that have the perfect image.  Jimmy says be genuine, but does not seem to want his staff to be…Just fake.  They say hire people that mirror your customers, but yet cannot have a tongue piecing, or un natural colored hair, etc(which is also funny as he calls his employee’s Rock Stars).  Also something could be religious base for an employee and well you can hire them, but you still get marked down on your store audit.  If an employee clocks in and is not in full uniform and you notice and tell them to fix it, hope your coach didn’t see them because he will still mark you down on his audit.

They also have a lot of rules for management, that in some states is illegal and hard to juggle these “rules” they have and be compliant with state laws.  You also have to make sure that your employees does everything 100% perfect when they are there to do you “Audit” or again you get marked down….But hey they are here to help you they say.  This stressing out managers and staff members in which some have quiet.

Training employee’s is also difficult.  Jimmy John’s does not have training video’s, training guides, or even simple job aid’s.  They want everything to be memorized (from sandwich ingredients, recipe’s, to meat weights), which with working with individuals that now have come to technology for memorizing (most don’t even know phone numbers anymore) it can be very difficult.

They do have an operations manual but it is required to lock in the safe as making a sandwich is highly classified material according to the corporation.  Then on top of it, again if they don’t have this memorized you are marked down on your “Audit”.   Then if you get a complaint about a missed sandwich they preach “consistency” but yet have no built charts or anything available.  To move up and be certified you must memorize everything.  Instead of focusing on building a team, creating a great atmosphere your staff and management must memorize portion weighs, recipe’s, etc.

They also have requirements for amounts of ingredients but do not have the tools, for example avocado spread and mustards have a measured amount, but no measuring capability as its applied with a spatula, but if your crew puts too much or to less then you get marked down again on your “Audit”.

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints: Last Word

These are some things that I have learned over my years in Jimmy John’s.  I would really look at the brand more in depth before buying into it.  Yes, its great selling a high-quality product and your store CAN be profitable (hopefully you live in a low min. wage state).  As your biggest expense is Labor because they focus more on speed and over the top cleaning.

Most restaurants it is food cost that if the highest as that customer wants most bang for the buck, but not here.

The biggest way to be profitable is owning multiple stores, but the issue with that is that they are so picky with everything a single owner cannot work every shift every day in all its stores and with the high turnover in food industry you almost have to pray to get lucky and getting good people.  But they also hold these (Audit) scores against you in opening more stores.  Don’t forget you also must pray for a desent business coach.

The brand rode a wave of the popularity but the last two years it has stalled.   Jimmy himself does not realize that he doesn’t have to pay royalties or pay into the advertising budget.  If franchises didn’t have to shell out almost 10% of their sales, they probably would be doing a lot better.

You would think that they would have learned from Quizno’s disaster and that messing with your franchises is not good business and will only hurt you in the long run.

But, if you continue to want to move forward in owning a Jimmy John’s, Good Luck.


JIMMY JOHN’S Franchise Complaints (Part 1)





TAGS: Jimmy John’s, Jimmy John’s franchise, Jimmy John’s franchise opportunity, Jimmy John’s franchise complaints, Jimmy John Liautaud, sub franchise, sub sandwich franchise opportunity, franchise complaints, unhappy franchisee

One thought on “JIMMY JOHN’S Franchise Complaints (Part 2)

  • My wife and I have considered a JJ’s franchise for a few months but are just now researching “all the bad things”, as there is always something bad when jumping into a franchise. We have the funds, the market, etc.

    Between part 1 and 2 and even a comment on part 1, we’re walking away. There are far too many things that would cause problems in my market and my attitude against most of the topics listed.

    I completely get certain topics but there’s just too much crud that the corp does for us to continue looking at this franchise. Thank you for the information.

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