Sharpening the saw

October 1, 2010 -  By
Scott Frith

Photo: Scott Frith

Scott Frith, vice president — marketing and franchise development for Lawn Doctor, headquartered in Holmdel, NJ, believes the economic situation actually strengthened the company. “It caused us to take a really close look at our business, our team and our processes to look at what opportunities are out there,” he says. “Stephen Covey calls it ‘sharpening the saw,’ so you can cut better, and that’s just what we’ve done. We conducted an in-depth self-examination that’s led to ways we can build a better business.” At press time, sales were approaching 15% growth over last year.

How they grew involved a variety of contributing factors, including the formation of committees focused on specific functional areas in the business, bringing franchisees to the table so their voices could be heard. “They help us drive our strategies,” Frith says. “We want to keep them involved in decisions.”

Implementing more technology was also a key growth factor that allowed the company to drive more marketing and some service and sales efficiencies. “Having more efficient systems is important,” Frith says. “For instance, having GPS routing and mobile technologies enables us to check in on jobs easier and sync up with software in the office.”

And like many other companies, Frith also says the economic situation has made customer retention more important than ever. As a result, the company has really focused on providing better customer service. “We’ve always put the customer at the center, but I do think when you’re growing at a certain rate you’re always looking for the next customer. You don’t forget the existing customer, but maybe you don’t do everything you really should to retain them and create that referral base. So we’ve really started focusing our efforts on what we need to do to deliver on the service expectations of all of our customers.”

For Lawn Doctor, the economic situation has also created a unique opportunity Frith believes will bring future franchise growth — the fact that so many green industry vets are out of work but still love the industry. “There are a lot of quality green industry people out there who just don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel in their state of unemployment,” he says. “We believe a future trend for us will be hearing from people who’ve lost jobs in the Green Industry who come to a point where they need to make a move and want to do it on their own but still go with a brand they know and trust. We’ve had so much interest already.”

As a result, the company now offers a green discount for industry vets. If applicants qualify as having Green Industry experience, they’ll get $12,500 off of the initial startup fee. The company is also now financing half of the total investment for all new franchisees. “There are so many people out there who are responsible and hardworking, and did everything right; they just fell victim to the times,” Frith says. “We believe in our brand and the people in this industry, so if they’re joining our brand, we want to help them out.”

LM Staff

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