In this episode Jim Penman talks about how he went from starting a mowing business with a $24 investment, to building the Jim’s Group, with more than 3,800 Franchisees and a turnover of approximately $500 million.

Jim Penman

Jim Penman started a part-time gardening business while earning his PhD in history at Latrobe University. He launched a full-time mowing business in 1982 with a $24 investment.

He originally aimed only at taking on subcontractors, but his business grew and he gradually began to specialise in the building up and selling of lawn mowing rounds. By 1989 he franchised his business, and since then Jim’s Mowing has become the largest franchise chain in Australian and the largest and best-known lawn mowing business in the world.

Jim’s Cleaning was launched in 1994, followed by more than 50 other divisions which now operate in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom. Jim’s Group now has over 3,800 Franchisees and a turnover of approximately $500 million.

Jim says the key to success in franchising is an overriding concern for the welfare of franchisees, and constant improvement in customer service. He is still actively involved in the running of the business, is directly accessible to all his Franchisees and to any client with a serious complaint.

He is funding a research program into the epigenetics of social behaviour, a continuation of his PhD work, which he believes could help in the treatment of mental illness and addictive disorders.

His books ‘Biohistory’, ‘Biohistory: decline of the West’, and ‘Every Customer a Fan’ are available on Amazon and from

You can follow the Jim’s Franchise Group on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram.


In this episode we explore

  • Whether or not Jim Penman started his lawn mower business with the intention to build Australia’s biggest franchising empire.
  • The difference between a Franchise, Franchisee and a Franchisor.
  • How the Jim’s Group evolved over the years.
  • The types of businesses that best suit the Jim’s franchise model.
  • The traits required to be a successful franchise owner.
  • Speculation on why more people don’t consider owning a franchise.
  • How to go about approaching the Jim’s Group if you have an industry that you wanted to setup a franchising model for and wanted to do it under the Jim’s umbrella.
  • The costs involved in setting up a Franchise under the Jim’s brand, how that varies between divisions and what you get when you sign up.
  • The importance of procedures.
  • The importance of supporting staff and being available for your team.
  • The pros and cons of taking a potential franchise opportunity to Jim’s rather than going out on our own to setup an independent franchise model.
  • How the Jim’s Group has been a training ground for many successful businesses within Australia.
  • Jim’s opinions on the franchising industry and where there needs to be reforms.
  • Life outside the Jim’s Group for Jim Penman.
  • How Jim Penman’s is investing in research.

Resources discussed in the show

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