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Tips for successful franchising

July 19, 2022 -  By
Jim Mercon

Jim Mercon

Jim Mercon already owned a successful mowing and maintenance business before venturing into the world of franchising.

Mercon, owner of Nature Cuts in Valparaiso, Ind., added lawn care services to his business through a partnership with Spring-Green Lawn Care. He says it has been “one of the more enjoyable things I’ve done.”

“We began as an adjunct or an addition to our mowing business,” he says. “We’ve been in that business for over 20 years. To take advantage of our current customer base and expand it, we wanted to diversify.”

Mercon says he thoroughly searched for a franchisor. He shared his thoughts on what landscape professionals should look for in a franchise with LM.

Growing strong

Mercon joined Spring-Green as a franchisee in 2018; in the four years since, the lawn care side of Nature Cuts has grown to match his mowing business in size and revenue.

“That decision proved quite well,” he says. “This year, we’re in the $500,000 range, and for a startup, that’s quite good.”

Nature Cuts provides lawn care services, mowing and snow removal to a 95 percent residential clientele.
He also says he and his son, John, president of Nature Cuts, continue to learn about this new side of their business with help from Spring-Green.

“We were very inexperienced in lawn treatment; we needed some mentors and teachers, coaches and leaders to help us with that knowledge base to move forward,” he says.

Finding a match

In his search, Mercon says he had a handful of characteristics he was looking for in a franchisor, such as a strong mentoring program and a good track record. He was also looking for a “semi-local” franchisor, which he found in Spring-Green, headquartered in Plainfield, Ill., around a two-hour drive from Nature Cuts.

Mercon says he took advantage of that closeness, driving to Plainfield and meeting in person with the team at Spring-Green to discuss and coordinate business plans over the first several months of his partnership with the company.

“I looked at quite a few of the others out there, and what was important to (John) and me was a good mentoring program,” says Mercon. “Someone that had a good track record and a decent number of other franchisees that were also happy with their decision.”

Joining a franchise is a monetary investment, Mercon says, which is something to keep in mind when looking for a franchisor.

“The price to get started was reasonable, it takes an investment, and we were willing to make it,” he says.
The Spring-Green franchise fee sits at $40,000, with a lower $25,000 option for green industry business owners who qualify for the company’s Green Associate Program.

Keep this in mind

Mercon says franchising is not for every pro.

“There has to be mutual respect for the franchising industry. That doesn’t mean that the franchisor is your boss; it means they are your partner,” he says. “If a person is looking at a franchise to work by themselves, they need to know that they have a partner that is equally as interested in their success as they ought to be.”

Rob DiFranco

About the Author:

Rob DiFranco is Landscape Management's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Landscape Management, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

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