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Jim Penman


Business - Customer Service - Franchising - Innovation - Keynote Speakers - Leadership - Management - Risk Management - Risk Taking - Small Business - Strategy - Talent Retention - Teamwork

Founder - Jim’s Mowing

Australian’s will have seen the iconic green vehicles of Jim’s Mowing moving about their communities, and may have even enlisted their services. Beginning with just $24 and overdue rent looming, today there are over 2000 franchises throughout Australasia and Canada and the business enjoys an annual growth of 15%. The lynch pin of Jim’s success is a focus on service and the right staff.

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 35 other divisions which now operate in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom. Jim’s Group now has over 3,300 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, aided by a $1 million matching grant from the ARC. So far he has co-authored a number of papers and is working on two books, due out later this year.

Presentation Topics Include

  • 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  
  • 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
  • The importance of values.


“Found Jim to be interesting speaker – quietly spoken, had a lot of interesting things to say.  Had prepared his talk to us on our requirements re continuing to motivate his “team".  Had good philosophies, which though are not completely relevant to our industry, were very insightful. He was also more than willing to answer questions."
SEE Life Differently

“An excellent, interesting and honest presentation! A very down to earth guy…
The message he delivered was perfect for the current real estate market – service, service, service the customer!
Can talk for hours and was more than happy to answer any questions the audience had. Also very obliging after the presentation when people approached him" 

“Jim was great, I've received wonderful feedback and would recommend him for other business functions."
Shire of Yarra Ranges

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