JIMMY JOHN’S Franchise Complaints (Part 1)

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.  Also be sure to read JIMMY JOHN’S Franchise Complaints (Part 2)  Photo credit:  Don Sniegowski

(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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Below is a what’s really going on with Jimmy John’s Sandwiches.  I will be sending this out every two days to different news publications until it is posted.

Thinking about owning a Jimmy John’s sandwich franchise?  You might want to think twice.

Jimmy John’s is one of the fastest growing sandwich chains in America at the moment.  But if your dream is to own your own business, be your own boss, and answer to no one then this franchise is not for you.  You maybe the owner on paper, but you are not left with any of your own decisions and you are more like a manager that has paid hundreds of thousands to run a business for someone else.  You paid for a job!

The corporation has lost interest in helping its franchisees and is more focused on them making as much money off the franchisees instead.

This has gotten so bad that a bunch of the franchisees have powered together and formed a franchise association. Jimmy John’s does not seem to care financially about its franchisees.  As long as they are making money they do not care how it affects you as the owner.  Most of the time you buy into a franchise for the support, but all they are about is negativity.  For years Jimmy John’s rode the wave of prosperity from the popularity of the brand, but that has worn off and the corporation does not seem to have an answer for its franchises on how to continue with positive comps.

There are owners that are selling their stores within even there first year, they are taking a loss so they can walk away from this.  There are several issues of why someone would do this, I believe it’s because Jimmy John’s cares more about his profits then about his franchises and does not understand of the costs that a franchisee has to deal with (as he doesn’t have franchise fee royalties), some of the things are below:

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints: Training   

You want to open a store you have to have at least 3 certified managers upon opening.  They must be trained at the only training location in the United States which is in Champaign, Illinois and have to go there for a couple weeks.  You will have to pay these employees to go to this training, but also their hotel stay, rental car, airline tickets, and food money as well.  There is also the franchise fee you have to pay to send these trainees.  BUT, you spend all this money to send them there and even though you may not require a drug test, THEY do.  They will send your employee home if they fail (some owners might even have stores that are in marijuana legal states) and you are out of this money already spent on their travels.  The only exclusion from this is if your employee is from a state that does not allow drug testing.

Makes no sense, these are not their employees.  Your managers are there for two to three weeks and during this time there they are not trained on how to be a manager, instead they concentrate on things that would just make a better employee better.  They don’t work on Human resources issues: hiring new employees and training them, labor laws, sexual harassment, team building, in depth training of POS and back of the house computer, local store marketing, etc..  Instead they work on your meat slicing, cleaning, and sandwich making capabilities.  Any of these things which could be learned at your store and save you thousands of dollars.   Besides two days in the office you are there to work for them (for free), they don’t even give them an employee discount of food.  The worst thing is that once that employee comes back, if you have to fire them or they quiet you have to send another person as you now are required to have two per store.  Some owners make their employee’s sign contracts saying that they will work there for two or three years to pay off the amount spent, but some stores have state laws against this and cannot.

While the manager is at this training, you also may have to worry about your employee suing you.  Illinois has very little labor laws in regards to employee rest periods (breaks).  While your employee is their training they are your employee not Jimmy John’s and therefor if Jimmy John’s does not give them the required breaks for your state (in which you are employing them from) you could be sued.   They also make them work lots of hours, more then what some owners may require…so you will be paying them lots of overtime.

Last, these managers can lose their certification as well if they have to take long period of time off, or do not work an opening shift and closing shift 5 days a week.  Most companies would rather their “best” employee’s working lunch and dinner, but not here.  Jimmy John’s is also in the news all the time in regards to its labor practices, lawsuits, etc…This makes it hard just to get people to apply at your store.

If you lose one of your “certified managers” you will have to send someone else to training.  Get ready to shell out more money.  But before you can send them they have to be “Mayo Master” and “Slicing Master” certified by your Business Coach (Franchise Representative from Jimmy Johns Corporate).  To be a Mayo Master you have to fast, precise, attention to detail, know the menu 100% and recipes(which are not shown and have to learn) all learning this during non-peak hours as only the Mayo Master is allowed in these spots when it is busy.  If they don’t pass, you may have to wait another month before they get to try again.  Even though this is pretty much all you do in training (to be certified in Illinois) you have to prove it first at the store.  If they fail(which could be just from your Business coach having a bad day) you may have to wait over a month before the business coach will be out again.

This means if you find an awesome manager applicant and you hire them, you will not really be able to use them for what they already know because they don’t know how to Mayo bread and slice meat fast.  Maybe the employee is an existing employee and this employee is one of your best employee’s (that’s why looking to promote them), but now you’re going to send off one of your best employee’s away for two and half weeks to just learn what they mostly already know and hinder your service at your store while they are gone.

The corporation holds these “certified managers” as hostage to your business.  If you don’t have at least two you cannot ask for delivery changes (which are impossible anyways), marketing help, open another location (can’t even start the process which is like 6 months to a year out).  So, shell out more money (to corporate) to get a “certified manager” just so you can grow your business.  You could have 2 certified managers for years and then lose one, but at that time you cannot get anything out of corporate until you get your two certified managers in place.

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints: Hours of Operation

They have specific hours that Jimmy John’s says you have to be open, even if you are taking a loss to do so.  This is even more greatly on holidays.  You are only allowed to be closed 3 days of the year- Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.  There are several stores that spend more money on labor then what they make for that day.

Lots of locations have busy seasons and would make sense to be open longer and later during those, and shorter or earlier on the slow days.  We’ll once again, Jimmy John’s does not allow stores to have weekend hours, compared to weekday hours.  They also don’t allow summer hours to be different then winter hours.  Jimmy Johns only cares about the royalties in which they receive so if you are getting sales they are happy with that.  They do give some stores a variance here and there to close early or change their hours, but it’s like winning the lottery as it’s up to someone else’s decision and there is no actually written stipulation on what qualifies you to change your hours.

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints:  Supplies. 

You can only purchase supplies from their distributors that they have picked (pretty sure this is due to Jimmy John’s getting a kick back).  Even though the price maybe cheaper somewhere else you have to purchase it from them.  There are also some supplies that you have to purchase that the brand is just not large enough to purchase in mass quantity so the price is too expensive.  For example Journal tape for the register, does anyone really care if it says Jimmy John’s on the back?  My guess is not, but it cost the franchisee almost twice the cost than normal.

All the tile is stamped with the logo on the back, why….?  Shipping is outrageous as most of the companies you must use are in Illinois and shipping can be outrageous, but if you’re local you can pick up yourself (must be nice to be Jimmy).  You also can only use “approved” items, does not matter that you find something that is a better use for YOUR business.

If they are not making a kickback off it, then they don’t want you ordering it.

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints: Point of Sale System/Credit cards. 

You must purchase a point of sales system (only have one company, no options).  The one that you must use is weak and has nothing but issues(mostly because Jimmy wants to be connected 24/7 to your store).  POS stands for Point of Sales, but in this case it is the other POS.   System is out dated, does little for you on developing your store.  You also have to pay a monthly fee for them as well that is more then what most pay for way better systems.

If you think something would work a better way on the system, like change a button (that’s right a button) or sometimes even change a price, you cannot without having to call in to the tech support.  Sometimes that doesn’t even help as you may have to put in a request with corporate and most of the time it is denied(again you own nothing).

Credit card processing is another big issue.  Again there is only one company so you have to purchase their machines (which are twice as much as some others) (no volume discount here) and then you have to pay their outrageous fee’s and to top it off.  They now have the new compliance issue(PCI) which means all the stores are having to buy new machines and being forced to buy it because you have to have it to be compliant with new regulations.  Being that it is required, they can charge what they want.  These machines are also garbage.  Smaller chains have better systems that guide the customer on how to use these new machines, but Jimmy John’s don’t and frustrates customers.

Jimmy John’s is supposed to be freaky fast, but with these new terminals the chip inserted area is not big and noticeable so customers take time to find it, the customer also has to follow the screen and steps correctly our it even takes longer and the screen is so small that no one pays attention.  You are lucky if you get a credit card transaction to go through in under 20 seconds.

Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints:  Negativity.

This company is full of it.  Does not matter if your numbers are up and your rocking it.  About every 3-7 weeks or so you get a visit from your “Business Coach”.  First, these business coaches are young, most of them not even in their mid-20’s, but yet have the experience on how you are supposed to handle your problems and help grow your business.

Some of these business coaches were never even managers with Jimmy John’s or never even worked for one before hired.  Instead these business coaches are more like an evil step mother with a chip on their shoulder.  Stores dread there visits because when they come to your store they are there to do a “Audit” (even their inspections have negative name”), during this audit they look at everything from dust on a pipe under a sink, soap dispensers not filled to the top, dust on the computer screen in office, to going through a daily worksheet stack (about 10 pages of daily check offs) and make sure they are all filled in (even if your store does not have an item it still must be “x” off).

They also critique every little thing (even color of socks,  even though you’re wearing pants).  They are also known for belittling the owners and their staff.  There is also no consistency with these “Audits”, you mostly have to hope that you are on good terms with your business coach.  You can be doing something one way for years, but then all of a sudden you get marked down for it.  Most companies have plaques on their walls about how well their stores is (5 stars, or gold store), but not here.

Because only a handful of stores have ever even received 100%(I mean handful).  I have not even seen another store myself get it.  They put their own stores (owned by the cooperation) on this high pedestal showing how great their scores are, but the fact is that when they do a “audit” on their own stores, they are only there for maybe 30 minutes.  When they do a “Audit” for the franchisee they are there for a seven hours and if your staff makes one mistake and you can get marked down a receive a bad score.  You could do one thing wrong and suddenly marked down in several categories.  Some owners stopped caring about scores because they are ridiculous, but others that are still growing their company and trying to open more stores get slowed down and denied stores because of their score.  So your company can be in the hands of 20 year old when doing your “audit”.


Jimmy John’s Franchise Complaints:  MORE Negativity.

Get ready to say a lot of NO’s and I’M SORRY.  You will be saying this a lot.  Because there are so many things that Jimmy John’s does differently than most chains.  Here are some examples:

Salt and pepper on sandwich – NO (we’ll now you give them a packet; at some locations) sorry we cannot sprinkle it on for you.  Jimmy says that his sandwiches don’t need it.  I guess he does not care what the customer thinks

Lemons for tea – NO, not approved.  Who serves ice tea and has no lemons.

Yellow Mustard – NO (even though it’s on the menu, and says nothing about being available in a packet only).  So, they have yellow mustard for sandwiches but you have to put it on yourself as the customer.  Get ready for the “are you serious” looks from customers.

Delivery– NO, sorry.  Jimmy is so focused on being fast.  Other companies (not restaurants) are offering food delivery (like Uber eats) and are popping up and taking business and to whom are they delivering to? To people that want food that is not normally delivered to them.  But, hey were fast.  Even though most people that want delivery want it because they don’t want to leave to get it (for me if its 2 miles away, I think I would save the extra delivery fee and get it myself).  We would get people all the time that don’t care that it wouldn’t be there in 10-20 minutes, they just want delivery.  The delivery zone’s don’t make since either so it is hard telling a customer if they are in your zone or not without having to take the time and look up address on the POS.

Napkins – Sorry, we hide those on our side…To afraid customers will take to many of one of the lowest costs we have.

Sugar, equal, sweet n low – Sorry, we are not allowed to have it out for you to see.  We do carry it but hide it as well.

Lids and Straws – I’m sorry, there on top of the machine.  Why can’t they be lower? Even though this is a ADA violation in some cities.

Chicken – NO, even though it’s one of the most popular menu items in America and asked for all the time by customers and franchisees.  We were told back some time ago that they were working on a chicken bacon ranch.  They have been testing it for a really long time.  But even with what they are testing they:

  1. Taking way too long to come up with recipe.  It’s been almost 2 years
  2. Don’t think of labor intensive.  Product they have been testing is labor intensive.
  3. The recipe they are testing is not even chicken Bacon ranch, its just chicken….and wonder why people say it does not have much flavor.  Chicken does not have much flavor unless its paired with a sauce or seasoning, something Jimmy does not carry.

Ranch, Hot Sauce, honey mustard, Siracha – NO, No sauces here.  Jimmy doesn’t do “focus groups” he even says so.  “He uses his own palate”.  Somebody forgot to tell him were here for the customer, not him.  There is 2 kinds of spicy mustard, but nothing sweet.

Sides – sorry we don’t have containers.  Again, another item that’s been testing for months.  Even though years ago, owners were carrying these and not having issues, until told by the corporation to get rid of them.

Why are throwing away my bread? – A lot of people new to Jimmy John’s and even some old, don’t realize that for the basic subs they hollow out the bread and throw it away.  That’s right throw away perfectly good food.  Which is funny as most people want most “bang for their buck” and you are throwing it away.  Jimmy John’s also focuses on speed, this extra step is time consuming.  Customers can ask for it to be left in(LBI), but if they don’t know they don’t ask.

Difficult Menu – The menu is difficult as well for new and old customers.  Clubs are a sub for some reason.  Definition of Club from google: “a sandwich of meat (usually chicken and bacon), tomato, lettuce, and mayonnaise, with two layers of filling between three slices of toast or bread” and we wonder why people get confused.  Some people get clubs expecting it to be sliced bread without even asking, and some don’t ever order clubs because they don’t know it is a sub, since there is another sub category.  Slims are also just a plain sub and customers don’t understand why they cannot add to them.

Yelling at the customer – They want everyone Yelling at the customer when they come in “HELLO”.  This is not real, feels fake to the customer.  Sometimes even scares the customer.  Customers can since fakeness.

Kids sandwich – Even though children help decide were a majority of families eat.  There is not option for little kids.  My son says his friends always go to Subway and say Jimmy John’s is gross.

All of these issues above are things resulting from someone having a positive experience and turning it into a negative experience.  Then you have to try and win the customers back.  But you shouldn’t have to.  Customers can go to most sandwich shops and easily get most of the things above(except delivery) and this has become quite the norm for customers to expect.  Need to listen to the customers.  Comps are down for the last two years for the Jimmy John’s brand and they don’t know why?   Listen to your customers maybe.


JIMMY JOHN’S Franchise Complaints (Part 2)




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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

6 thoughts on “JIMMY JOHN’S Franchise Complaints (Part 1)

  • September 19, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    Spot on assessment of owning a Jimmy John’s. I sold my store after they put another store 2 miles from mine in a town of 20K. Jimmy John’s call it clustering and it devastates store sales and has cause a trend of stores being sold at very discounted price.

    Former JJ’s Franchisee

  • February 9, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Reading what I just read here, you couldn’t pay me enough to open up a JJ franchise.
    Wow, you’ve got to be freakin nuts, would rather be unemployed than to start something like this! Buyer beware, and read the reviews here first
    James McCallahsn Jr/Jacksonville, FL

  • August 26, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    As one of the top 10 g.m.s of all franchise Jimmy johns for 8 years I can completely agree, my issue was my business coach couldn’t perform any better than any driver at making sandwiches, my team got 4th in the nation at the sandwich contest, my slicing team would have got first, but unfortunately it’s always a corporate store that wins! The rules are unimportant and honestly just damning to employees

  • August 27, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    I was thinking about opening a JJ Franchise but not after reading this. My lord, sounds like a nightmare.

  • September 26, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Wow, so accurate.

  • October 10, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    I work for jimmy johns in fond du lac Wisconsin it was great at first. But now it’s trouble they are not for black people. I got fired for nothing. They bring in people that say there manager but they are not. I want people to know it’s not a good company to work for. I work for them 8 years all together. In fond du lac for a year they don’t have love for blacks and that’s wrong

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