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 specialize 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.
1. How did you enter the franchise business?
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.
2. Where and how did the idea of your concept come from?
The arrival of a franchised competitor, so franchised in self-defense.
3. What inspired the brand name?
Originally, Jim’s Mowing was simply me (Jim) Mowing lawns. Never saw any reason to change it.
4. What is the story behind the brand’s logo?
I found leaflets worked better with my photo on them. On launching the franchise, I got a graphic designer to do a graphic format for 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.
5. What makes your brand different from your competitors?
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.
6. What are the essential qualities that you look for in a franchisee?
Passion for customer service, willing to listen and abide by the system.
7. How long does it take, on average, for your franchisee to realize their investment?
8. What was the major challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Finding competent managers. We are doing much better these days, but still a long way to go.
9. What is your best achievement?
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).
10. How does your business day start?
Email, especially responding to Franchisees and Franchisors very fast.
11. What was your best moment throughout your franchise career?
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.
12. Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?
Steady improvement in service to customers, especially Franchisees, through improvement in systems and IT.
13. Any tips you want to impart to our readers who want to be in the franchise industry?
Franchisees must come first!
Source: The Franchise Talk