Commonly known as the face of Jim’s Mowing, founder of Jim’s Group, Jim Penman has a very interesting business narrative to share. As the guest speaker at AIB’s recent Alumni event in Brisbane, Jim recounted his business journey so far, and how he is still only just getting started! In his presentation titled, “Growing by knowing your customer”, Jim shared his rise to success with the audience, detailing the challenges and triumphs he has experienced along the way. For those of you who were unable to make it to the event, see below for the top seven business lessons Jim shared.
1. Have an absolute passion for customers
One of the strongest business lessons shared on the night was the importance of having a sincere passion for your customers. In Jim’s case, this was not just those who employed Jim’s Group’s services, but also his franchisors and franchisees. He said, “I’ve always looked after my customers really, really well” and “I focus on making my customers happy and successful”, in turn making him both happy and successful. Jim Penman credits this approach to the success of his entire business, and has maintained this focus in every decision he has made.
2. Passion comes from the heart not the head
When discussing his passion for the customer, Jim explained that this passion must truly come from the heart. He explained, “It’s upsetting to me to do anything less than great for the customer”. This worked in both ways for Jim’s Group – Jim never had a shortage of clients, and his franchisees understand that he has their best interests at heart.
3. Emotional resilience is key
Jim Penman explained that the path to becoming Australia’s largest franchise operation has not been an easy one, and he has certainly faced challenges along the way. After a particular challenging experience, Jim said that he was inspired to keep going – no matter what. He said, “Nothing could defeat me, nothing could make me go into despair, nothing could make me give up”. The moment you stop believing in yourself and let your emotions get the better of you, is the moment you will have difficulties. In business, we all face challenges, but if you have strong emotional resilience, you are more likely to bounce back and keep moving forward.
4. Learn to sell
Self-confessed as socially awkward, Jim admitted that he struggled to sell his services for some time. The turning point came when he was introduced to a contact in the advertising industry, and met with him to discuss how he could effectively advertise his businesses and when the right time to do would be. Jim applied what he learnt to selling mowing rounds, focusing on the interests of the customer rather than the sale, and from that time on became highly effective at sales. At Jim’s, this is called ‘selling by not selling’.
5. Nothing happens overnight
Regardless of what industry you operate in, an important message from Jim Penman’s presentation was that no business venture excels overnight. Jim explained that he combatted multiple adversities along the way, stating, “It was a challenge for many months”, both financially and emotionally. Despite considering himself poor for many months, Jim was motivated to always finish what he started and strived for more success for his franchisors and franchisees.
6. Integrity is everything
Throughout the duration of Jim’s presentation, it was clear that he has always conducted his operations in an honest and ethical way. For example, he shared the story of when he purchased some lawn mowing equipment and was undercharged. Instead of keeping it, he returned to the store to pay the extra money, despite not knowing how he was going to afford it. The moment he focused solely and honestly on the best interests of those around him, the business grew exponentially.
7. Know your weaknesses
Jim Penman commenced his presentation by acknowledging his weaknesses, saying, “I never dreamed that my business would be this successful”. He detailed how he wasn’t the best in social situations, and didn’t look after his equipment as well as he should have. That being said, knowing your weaknesses can actually become one of your strengths in business – it allows you to recognise who you need to hire to assist, or where you need to develop.
What do you think?
Were you lucky enough to be in the audience at this AIB Alumni event? I’d love to hear what other business lessons you took away from Jim Penman’s presentation. It was very clear that integrity and focusing on the customer was key to his success, but what did you think? This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. Explore more AIB events.
*The Australian Institute of Business (AIB) is Australia’s largest provider of MBAs. Source Ready, B. (2023) Domestic Enrolments Surged During COVID After International Students Locked Out, MBA News. Available at: MBA News.