Jim’s Group stands as the foremost franchising community in Australia, boasting over 5,000 franchisees spread across 52 diverse divisions. Their franchise model empowers you to operate independently or scale up your enterprise by hiring a team of professionals.
This interview is with Jim Penman – CEO of Jim’s Group. He started out as a part-time gardener while studying for his PhD in History at Latrobe University in 1982. With a $24 investment, he started a full-time lawn mowing business. He initially only wanted to take on subcontractors but as his business grew, he started to specialise in building up and selling lawn mowing rounds as well. By 1989, he had franchised his business and Jim’s Mowing had become the biggest franchise chain in Australia and the biggest and most popular lawn mowing business worldwide. Jim’s Cleaning was established in 1994 and now has over 50 divisions operating in Australia, NZ, Canada and the UK. Jim’s Group now has over 5000 Franchisees and an annual turnover of around $500 million.
Part-time student job while doing a PhD in history. Went full-time on completion, for lack of any better job opportunities. Took on subcontractors and began building up and selling lawn mowing businesses
Arrival of a franchised competitor, so franchised in self-defence
Originally, Jim’s Mowing was simply me (Jim) Mowing lawns. Never saw any reason to change it.
I found leaflets worked better with my photo on them. On launching the franchise, got a graphic designer to do a graphic format for use on uniforms etc. Tried a few fonts by posting them around the office, to see which was easiest to read. A few years later, upgraded with a graphic based on another picture. Same font.
Intense focus on Franchisee welfare. Our Franchisees have unprecedented rights such as to grow their business without limit and without paying more fees, work wherever they wish, vote out their Regional Franchisor or change Franchisors, veto changes to the Manual, etc. I give my direct phone number and Email address to every Franchisee, and encourage them to contact me at any time, including evenings and weekends
Passion for customer service, willing to listen and abide by the system.
Finding competent managers. We are doing much better these days, but still a long way to go.
88% of our Franchisees survive their first year, compared to 5-10% for similar independent businesses. 91% report good or satisfactory income in confidential surveys (mostly good).
Email, especially responding to Franchisees and Franchisors very fast.
Talking to a Franchisee whose life has been turned around by the business, especially men who have been able to watch their children grow up. Not one moment, many moments.
Steady improvement in service to customers and especially Franchisees, through improvement in systems and IT.
Franchisees must come first!
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