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Maintain your Edge: Franchise players

May 10, 2021 -  By
Mike Valestin, a Spring-Green Lawn Care franchisee in Mequon, Wis., explains that his business grew by about 15 percent in 2020, despite COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Spring-Green Lawn Care.)

Mike Valestin, a Spring-Green Lawn Care franchisee in Mequon, Wis., explains that his business grew by about 15 percent in 2020, despite COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Spring-Green Lawn Care.)

Before Daniel Leggett encountered the world of franchising, he was at his wit’s end with his landscape business. “At that point, I was getting tired of how my previous business was going,” Leggett says. “We were doing the same stuff over and over and not really getting ahead. I was looking at getting out of the industry or trying to find a different route to make it work better.”

Now, Leggett is the owner of the Mobile, Ala., branch of The Grounds Guys, and, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, he grew his business by 40 percent from 2019 to 2020. Leggett; Mike Valestin, a Spring-Green Lawn Care franchisee in Mequon, Wis., and Blaine Young, vice president of franchise and business development at NaturaLawn, explain how franchises can help landscape professionals with systems and support when they need it.

Support when you need it

Part of the reason Valestin decided to go with Spring-Green Lawn Care in 2014 is he wanted to focus his business on one item: lawn care.  “Landscaping is typically one service and done, but with lawn care, it’s a recurring revenue stream,” he says. “Plus, my snow removal service was a hardship on my family as I was on call 24/7, and with a lighter winter, the business slowed down. Stopping my snow removal business allowed me to have the downtime to prepare my Spring-Green Lawn Care business for the spring by maintaining my equipment and doing the behind-the-scenes prep work for clients.”

Valestin says converting his landscape clients into lawn care customers has helped his bottom line and recurring revenue. His business grew by about 15 percent in 2020, despite COVID-19.

“Once the COVID restrictions were lifted and as people found themselves at home more, they invested in their properties’ outdoor spaces and made lawn care a priority,” he says. “When June arrived, our sales exploded, and we hit our goals for the year. In a year like no other, Spring-Green has been adeptly responsive to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Young adds that franchises help support franchisees when they get stuck in the weeds with administrative tasks.  “If you want to be an entrepreneur, then that means you want to watch your own business from the very beginning to where you’re creating logos, letterhead, website, everything,” Young says. “When it comes to franchises, those decisions have already been done for you.”

All systems go

Structure supported by systems turned out to be one of the biggest factors in Leggett converting his business to a The Grounds Guys franchisee.

He says The Grounds Guys’ use of LMN and GG Pro Software, the company’s internal software, helps with estimating and scheduling to streamline the company’s processes.

“What was taking me an hour before, I can do in 10 or 15 minutes because it stores all your information, and you’re able to build an estimate faster,” Leggett says. “In any kind of construction industry right now, that’s the customer’s biggest complaint is someone comes out to look at their property or doesn’t show up at all, and when they do, it takes forever to get an estimate back to them. Before, it would take a week to get an estimate back to them, but now, I can get it back to them in an afternoon.”

In addition to software and marketing, Young says items such as vehicles, equipment and purchasing decisions are systemized and laid out for the franchisees. He adds that NaturaLawn also includes a marketing department, IT department and a sales center to help with the sales side of the business.

“People who are not as good with numbers and accounting and admin, we’re going to give them that support and training,” Young says. “Not everybody that comes into the lawn care industry is familiar with the process of developing prospects, customer acquisition, things of that nature. We want them to go out and be a businessperson, so they don’t have to worry about some of the aspects an entrepreneur would.”

Valestin notes that the franchisor’s marketing support has been a big help when preparing his marketing plan for the spring season. He advises future franchisees to take advantage of all the systems that are in place that will help them become successful. For example, Spring-Green’s call center helps field phone calls, especially in the busy spring season, which can be up to 500 calls per day. The call center takes 80 percent of the phone calls that came in from a direct mail marketing piece and makes the sale. His franchise then initiates the work.

Do the research

For anyone looking into joining a franchise, it’s important to research the different options ahead of time.

“Look at the culture and the mission statement,” Young says. “We have a set of values and beliefs, and that’s what we want to make sure (line up) when someone becomes a part of our franchise family.”

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's former managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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