‘I know nothing about the beauty industry’: The Jim’s Mowing founder’s new venture

“It’s not so much the brand, it’s that we’re good at doing services”, Jim’s Group founder and CEO Jim Penman told Mumbrella of the group’s continued expansion into new and unexpected services.

The business, which now has more than 5,200 franchisees across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom, recently made its debut into the beauty and legal services categories.

The first of these ventures, ‘Jim’s Beauty’, became the subject of social media virality when it was announced earlier this month, as punters speculated on whether the new business was the real deal.

It couldn’t have been a better launch for offering, with a strong earned media campaign resulting in upwards of 400 customer enquiries and “dozens” of franchise requests received by the business in the weeks since.

The question for many is how a brand that first launched as a mowing business in 1982 could be translated to an industry that is largely catered to the feminine aesthetic.

However, the potential incongruence between the Jim’s Brand and the beauty industry doesn’t seem to faze Penman.

“We recruit people with expertise in a particular area. I know nothing about the beauty industry… or antennas, or pest control,” he told Mumbrella, referring to two of the business’ other divisions.

“You just have to have the right person. Sometimes we don’t pick the right person and it doesn’t work out too well.”

While Penman is confident about the business model, which marries Jim’s Group’s franchise experience with franchisee’s industry experience, “as far as brand is concerned” he admits that the success so far has been “very surprising”.

He recalled the group’s first attempt to diversify into cleaning services in the 1990s. Penman had planned to roll the new offering out under a separate brand, but to little success.

He initially met the suggestion to roll the cleaning service into the Jim’s Group brand with reluctance, but 30 years and more than 50 service offerings later, he hasn’t looked back

“One thing that I would say very strongly is it’s always impossible to predict anything. Nothing ever works out the way you expect it to,” he shared.

“We try something, it doesn’t work and then we try something else and it works fantastic. It’s just really hard to tell. You learn by trial and error.”

While Penman is himself bemused by the versatility of the Jim’s brand, he was adamant that despite the skepticism of some brand experts, it simply just “works”.

“I mean look at it this way, we just started a brand new beauty company. We haven’t got a single employee or franchisee on the road and we had like over 300 clients trying to book in the first week,” he enthused.

“You look at a business like Virgin, for example. I mean, Virgin is a record store. What’s that got to do with airlines or finance or anything else? But it works because the brand extends.”

With four franchisees now set to complete their induction next month, the business is up and away as far as Penman is concerned.

He told Mumbrella that he had learned that the key benefit of keeping the same brand assets across such a broad scope of franchised services is that the consumer trust is already there.

With most Jim’s customers likely to engage multiple services from the Group, Penman underlined the value that each new venture has in cross-promoting across business’ franchise portfolio.

“The one thing we’ve learned is that every new division we bring on is actually easier to get going.”

With the group’s new legal services business also officially up and running as of last week, it is clear that business is as optimistic as ever about the strength the Jim’s name carries.

A personal passion project of Penman’s, he’ll be hoping Jim’s Legal, can create just as much of a stir as the Jim’s Beauty, but for all the right reasons.


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