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 dog wash, building maintenance, fencing and around 38 other divisions which now operate in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom. Jim?s Group now has over 3,400 Franchisees and a turnover of approximately $350 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.
Jim is funding a research program at RMIT on the biological basis of social behaviour and has recently had two books published: ?Biohistory? and ?Biohistory: decline and fall of the West?

He is married with ten children.


  • A history of the Jim's Group, with an emphasis on principles that have helped make the company successful.
  • Customer Service: importance, how focus on customers has affected the growth of the business, importance of staying close to customers in driving innovation, systems to support customer service.
  • Franchisee Service: Franchisees as our primary customers, putting Franchisees before profit, avoiding litigation.
  • Egalitarianism: mechanisms to give Franchisees power and security and potential for advancement.
  • Cost control: combining rigorous cost controls with open-handed spending where it matters, importance of technology in improving service while reducing costs.
  • Openness: why we provide training before we sign people; 'warts and all' presentations.
  • The importance of values.
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