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Military Lawns
01-16-2008, 09:03 PM
Does anyone here own or have a relationship with a "Weed and Feed" franchise. Example: Lawn Doctor or Weedman.

I would like the pros and cons of owning such franchises.

DJ

bill8379
01-16-2008, 09:31 PM
I once owned a service franchise, though not in lawn care, all it did was give me the bug to start my own business. I couldn't wait to get out of it...

Few of the negative things I remember were that I was basically an employee but one that took the risks of a business owner. I would never have been able to grow to a point where I wouldn't have to "work" because as business increased, more franchises were sold.

I also had a brother in law that had a franchise in a Pizza outfit. He got locked into buying all the food products at fixed prices and when everyone else started advertising 2 for 1, then 3 for 1, he couldn't compete and lost everything.

Oh yeah, don't forget that they will make you sign a non compete clause so if you did want to start your own business..

Marcos
01-16-2008, 10:44 PM
Does anyone here own or have a relationship with a "Weed and Feed" franchise. Example: Lawn Doctor or Weedman.

I would like the pros and cons of owning such franchises.

DJ

I know of a Weedman franchise that's caught up in the process of personal bankruptcy in this general area right now.

I'd want to steer clear of " buying " into that name for a while, especially not knowing if poor management / poor service contributed in any way to the owner's financial problems.

People remember...

Rayholio
01-16-2008, 11:26 PM
they all want too much money.. they don't have anything special... you could do the same thingon your own with a similar investment in advertizing

ted putnam
01-17-2008, 12:03 AM
they all want too much money.. they don't have anything special... you could do the same thingon your own with a similar investment in advertizing

Hey Ray,
I checked out your web site the other day...Not too shabby! Ive been through Joplin a few times. you aren't too far up the road from me. I agree with your statement.It's tough to start a biz. Other than the name recognition, why give them your money. My local lawn doc tried to sell me his franchise last year. He wanted out. They have to sign a 20 yr deal. Upfront money then corporate gets I think 15% off the top every year. I was friends with the guy. I would have had to take the name and sign the same deal. I told him "you and I have nearly the same number of customers. Why would I want to give them a piece of my pie along with yours? Thanks but No Thanks! He said they do get national pricing on products and some other perks.

Rayholio
01-17-2008, 02:20 AM
Hey Ray,
I checked out your web site the other day...Not too shabby! Ive been through Joplin a few times. you aren't too far up the road from me. I agree with your statement.It's tough to start a biz. Other than the name recognition, why give them your money.

Thanks for the compliments on the web site.. I worked hard on it, and then totally redesigned it last year... Actually did all the work myself.

Next time you come thru here, I'll buy ya a drink! :) :drinkup:

Yeah.. I let the 'weed man' come see me last year.. I think I rember him wanting like 25K per year per vehicle.. + I would have to do things exactly thier way.. no thanks. no one here (potential customers) has ever heard of them anyhow! So.. name recognition isn't there either.

topsites
01-17-2008, 02:54 AM
It's a little bit like leasing a car, you never really own it.

Military Lawns
01-17-2008, 10:00 AM
Thanks for all of the information. I believe the research that I have done is consistent with the statements that I am seeing here.

I do not believe that it would be financially feasible owning one of these franchises. I also made some phone calls and unfortunately, no one had not one good thing to say about these particular franchises.

Now, I am not saying that they are not viable or credible, just that they are not for me. Again, thanks for all of your input.

DJ-

summitlawncare
01-17-2008, 10:11 AM
Whats anyone's opinion on Lawn America, some of you may have never heard of them before. They are in Tulsa, OK; Norman, OK: Dallas/Ft Worth, and NW Arkansas. Anyone have any opinions on this outfit????

Ric
01-17-2008, 04:04 PM
YO

Run the other way as fast as you can.

Let me qualify me reply first by saying Lawn Doctor sued me in federal court over trade mark. The word "Doctor" was the only like word in my former name. But the law is about who has the more money to spend on lawyers, not justice. I lost my name, but I made sure it cost them big bucks in both lawyer fees and their pay off to me. But take that as a lesson about franchisees.

For less money than you would spend on a franchisee, you can seek the advice of a business professional and not have to keep paying royalties the rest of your business life. In my area they low ball price as there marketing method. In a time of raising costs, margin is an important factor. paying a royalty the rest of your business life will get old very quick. They will make you sign a iron clad contract and have the money to enforce it.

americanlawn
01-17-2008, 05:35 PM
I hear ya Ric. We used to be our State's largest purchaser of Scott's fertilizer. With permission of Cindy Fla__(our Scotts rep located in Ohio), we featured the Scotts name in our yellow page ad and in our brochures. This was fine for several years. In fact, Cindy asked me if I would go one step further by showing Scotts fert bags in our TV commercials. We did. We had a very close relationship with Scotts until............. :hammerhead: about a year before some guy bought a Scotts lawn care franchise here. We were not aware of any franchise in our area, so we were confused when we received registered mail from a law firm out of Washington, D.C. They strongly threatened us with a serious law suit regarding the use of the Scotts name. WOW! This was out of the blue BIG TIME! We turned this over to our attorney who proved we were in the right. Cindy vouched for us.
So to this date, I HATE Scotts, I hate their devious attorneys, and LESCO has been our best friend since. Maybe it was the east coast way of doing business --- I really don't know, but Scotts has made a lifelong enemy with me. Cindy still lives in Columbus, Ohio, and we stay in touch. She lost her job with Scotts right after the Scotts breakup/sell out. She is a swell lady, and it's no surprise to me that Scotts fired her, cuz she is too good for "them".:nono:

YO

Run the other way as fast as you can.

Let me qualify me reply first by saying Lawn Doctor sued me in federal court over trade mark. The word "Doctor" was the only like word in my former name. But the law is about who has the more money to spend on lawyers, not justice. I lost my name, but I made sure it cost them big bucks in both lawyer fees and their pay off to me. But take that as a lesson about franchisees.

For less money than you would spend on a franchisee, you can seek the advice of a business professional and not have to keep paying royalties the rest of your business life. In my area they low ball price as there marketing method. In a time of raising costs, margin is an important factor. paying a royalty the rest of your business life will get old very quick. They will make you sign a iron clad contract and have the money to enforce it.

Runner
01-17-2008, 06:53 PM
We have a Scott's Lawn care around here that is a lawn maintenance operation. I see they also now do fertilizing. we also have two Scott's Lawn franchise in our area....one in Clio, and one in Gd. Blanc. It will be interestng to see what happens with that.


Run the other way as fast as you can.
Let me qualify me reply first by saying Lawn Doctor sued me in federal court over trade mark. The word "Doctor" was the only like word in my former name. But the law is about who has the more money to spend on lawyers, not justice. I lost my name, but I made sure it cost them big bucks in both lawyer fees and their pay off to me. But take that as a lesson about franchisees.

It was you that went through that.....I knew it was someone on here, but I wasn't sure who. I was just thinking of this th other day when I saw a "Dr. Lawn" the other day on here or one of the other sites. I thought to myself How in the world?

Rayholio
01-17-2008, 07:29 PM
Funny... thought by now we'd have the franchise fan-boys telling us how GREAT they are??

or maybe they don't have anything to say for a reason? Hmmmm...

jlemcke
01-17-2008, 10:38 PM
I am amazed at the lack of knowledge surrounding a franchise system. I am a Weed Man franchise owner in Canada. I am currently part owner in 7 locations, these locations service over 95,000 customers and produce over 36 million dollars of sales. Approximately 15 years ago, we bought our first franchise that was an existing franchise in Ottawa, ON, at that time sales were just under 200,000 of sales.

Quite honestly, I put my two feet on the ground every day and thank god that I joined Weed Man. Just my 2 cents...everyone is allowed an opinion but this is my story.

I know help franchisees in the US and welcome anyone to call me and discuss my last 15 years with this organization.

Good luck in all your future endeavors!

group501
01-18-2008, 08:16 AM
I own a Lawn Doctor franchise. I do not want to sound as if every part of being a Franchisee is perfect but overall I would to say that I am happy. Because of the buying power of our buy groups we pay far less for our products, ranging from printed materials to advertising and to chemicals. Often this makes up for the money we pay to the franchisor for royalties. The support system is also great if a problem arises. The individual Franchise owners are always willing to share their experiences with other franchises. This often saves a less experienced owner from making mistakes that could be costly. For the first two years the training was excellent. Although you do lose some of your individual freedom, I think that the success ratio of franchised business speaks volumes to the power of franchising. It has worked for us.

sclawndr
01-18-2008, 08:39 AM
I own a Lawn Doctor franchise. I do not want to sound as if every part of being a Franchisee is perfect but overall I would to say that I am happy. Because of the buying power of our buy groups we pay far less for our products, ranging from printed materials to advertising and to chemicals. Often this makes up for the money we pay to the franchisor for royalties. The support system is also great if a problem arises. The individual Franchise owners are always willing to share their experiences with other franchises. This often saves a less experienced owner from making mistakes that could be costly. For the first two years the training was excellent. Although you do lose some of your individual freedom, I think that the success ratio of franchised business speaks volumes to the power of franchising. It has worked for us.

I'm also an LD franchise and I second this. The biggest plus of a franchise is that you don't have nearly as much trial and error when you start. Reading a lot of the threads on this site is proof of that. Another big plus is having a network of people on your side who will freely share good info. When you're on your own you're stuck with suppliers mostly for advice, which is sometimes okay but hardly unbiased.

When I started, the LD franchises were very reasonably priced and unfortunately that's not so much the case any more. However, if you can find an existing one for sale (and there's always at least a few), that's the best route - you'll have cash flow from the start and the owner usually ends up financing.

Many people want to do whatever they want with the business and if that's you, then don't buy a franchise of any sort. We've never understood why someone would buy one if they already thought they knew everything. If you run the franchise right, you'll make a very comfortable living and avoid a lot of the headaches you read about on this site.

ted putnam
01-18-2008, 08:55 AM
If you are just starting out, I can see where a franchise could offer many benefits in getting things off the ground. I will share a personal experience with you. Of course I was an employee observing so my opinion may be skewed. I started for a Chemlawn franchise in 1990. About 93-94 Servicemaster Corp bought out Chemlawn from Ecolab. There was also a Servicemaster franchise in the area. They both had No compete clauses in their contracts. I think within 50 mile radius.When this buyout occured it created a "loophole" for both of them.They were 30 miles apart. Within 6 months both of them were out of their franchise agreements and had their own company names... I, by no means know all of the ins and outs of franchises but the little bit I have seen has shown me that given the slightest opportunity,owners of franchises(at least some of them)would love to be out of their agreements. JMO

side note: I later worked for the former Servicemaster owner for a couple of years

ted putnam
01-18-2008, 09:05 AM
If you are just starting out, I can see where a franchise could offer many benefits in getting things off the ground. I will share a personal experience with you. Of course I was an employee observing so my opinion may be skewed. I started for a Chemlawn franchise in 1990. About 93-94 Servicemaster Corp bought out Chemlawn from Ecolab. There was also a Servicemaster franchise in the area. They both had No compete clauses in their contracts. I think within 50 mile radius.When this buyout occured it created a "loophole" for both of them.They were 30 miles apart. Within 6 months both of them were out of their franchise agreements and had their own company names... I, by no means know all of the ins and outs of franchises but the little bit I have seen has shown me that given the slightest opportunity,owners of franchises(at least some of them)would love to be out of their agreements. JMO

side note: I later worked for the former Servicemaster owner for a couple of years

One other thing. I nthat same time frame TGCL promptly opened a branch in the same area. and began their "way of doing business."

Rayholio
01-18-2008, 10:58 AM
You know.. I can see how a franchise would be great for someone who didn't know squat about the business.. of course they'd ALSO need to have money coming out their ears.. The image of a franchise is one that is squeeky clean.. but let me tell you.. for all those 'low prices, and support' franchise owners go out of the business too.. a lot.. so don't think it's 'fool proof'

When I talked to the weed man sales rep, he wouldn't tell me what the discounts were on printed materials, or chemical.. but based on what I could see, it's not that much of a break compaired to REAL GREEN materials, and per pallet pricing from BWI... He also wouldn't tell me what their program consisted of... He also wouldn't tell me how much I'd have to charge the customer under the franchise.. He wouldn't discuss marketing plans..

What he WOULD tell me is that to cover the area that I allready covered, I would need to buy 2 zones.. 2 vehicles in 2 zones is over $100,000 a year... and I'm not even grossing that yet... He said I could do it with one vehicle.. ok.. then it would ONLY be $50,000 per year... and that's just for the rights to run the franchise.. I still have to buy, and pay to outfit the vehicles exactly how they want them.. (which can't be cheap)

So.. in short, the sales meeting was all about how much I had to pay them, and all he could say about benifits was "Training, and Image" since he couldn't discuss financhials.. (Who wants to make money anyhow... right?)

I think the franchise is the lazy mans way out.. you could hire an advertizing firm, sign up for 1800lawncare, and use the message boards for you invaluable network.. It will be cheaper in the long run.. and maybe someday, you can start your own franchise!

If you have lots of money, NO business managment skills, & little or no industry experience.. you NEED a franchise.. (even if it fails, you'll learn a lesson)

Whitey4
01-18-2008, 01:03 PM
I'm also an LD franchise and I second this. The biggest plus of a franchise is that you don't have nearly as much trial and error when you start. Reading a lot of the threads on this site is proof of that. Another big plus is having a network of people on your side who will freely share good info. When you're on your own you're stuck with suppliers mostly for advice, which is sometimes okay but hardly unbiased.

When I started, the LD franchises were very reasonably priced and unfortunately that's not so much the case any more. However, if you can find an existing one for sale (and there's always at least a few), that's the best route - you'll have cash flow from the start and the owner usually ends up financing.

Many people want to do whatever they want with the business and if that's you, then don't buy a franchise of any sort. We've never understood why someone would buy one if they already thought they knew everything. If you run the franchise right, you'll make a very comfortable living and avoid a lot of the headaches you read about on this site.

If you run the franchise right... same for an independent. As far as getting adcice, that is why one joins their local landscpaer's association. I have talked to some very knowledgable people. There is also a wealth of info I have gotten from the extension office.

More and maybe most importantly, being an independent forces me to learn as much as I possibly can as quickly as I can. I have asked the same questions to several suppliers. The result of that? I will drive 10 miles for my supplies instead of 1 because I didn't trust the "big" outfit here in town. I can create my own programs, and not have them dictated to me. I know when to treat for the type of grub we have here. Does the franchise scout when the beetles emerge?

Speaking of which, they can't scout you customer's properties for you. That is a crucial part of early diagnosis and treatment. Having them dictate I see as a bit of a crutch. Where is the motivation to get better at what you do? What if you think there is a more effective, safer, more economical material available? What if an app is unecessary for a particular property? As much as we treat pests, we are also supposed to minimize the use of pesticides and help protect the evironment. I know independents that will spray just for the billing, but I'm not one of them.

It works for some people, and that's fine. I think I can do a better job than they can in creating a program that will vary somewhat from one customer to the next. What you see as a difficulty I see as an opportunity to learn and eventally be one of the best.

What is right and what works best is different for each individual. I just can't see refinancing my home when I don't need to either. But, if it works for you, that's great.

bill8379
01-18-2008, 01:49 PM
A franchise is NOT for the entrepreneur... (I had to use the spell check to spell entrepreneur:confused: )

Ric
01-18-2008, 02:15 PM
It was you that went through that.....I knew it was someone on here, but I wasn't sure who. I was just thinking of this th other day when I saw a "Dr. Lawn" the other day on here or one of the other sites. I thought to myself How in the world?

Runner

The Law suit came to a head right after Hurricane Charlie wiped out my nursery and 3 years of BS with Lawyers. I caved in on the court house steps only because I had already sold out to my employees. I am much happier as a part time One Man Band now. My children were not interested in the business that kept them in college with nice cars and good spending money. My daughter now adds MD behind her name and my son adds Play Boy behind his name. My so called retirement was blown away by the wind and spend by my children.

Runner
01-18-2008, 03:52 PM
Yeah,...I remember when all that happened. That completely sucked. I AM glad you're still up and around with us, though!

sclawndr
01-18-2008, 05:06 PM
The anti franchise rants are coming fast and furious. The original question though was directed to those of us who actually own a franchise, not those who think they don't need one. A franchise is not for everyone but the facts about them go like this -

A good franchise provides a proven template for new owners to follow. Lawn Doctor is one of those. You buy more than a territory to work in - you get an established national brand name, all kinds of marketing support, access to buying groups, a team of agronomists designing programs for your specific geographical area, equipmennt and computer support, etc. If you don't place any value on that, fine, but many people do. More than 90% of people who buy a franchise do not have experience within that industry. But even for those who have some lawn background, it's the rare person who is good at everything - sales, marketing, equipment, customer service, accounting, etc. This is where franchises come in - they fill in the missing pieces. Yes, you can find this on your own but you won't find it in one place and not from anyone who has your best interest in mind. The franchisor only makes money when the franchisees do. Forget the franchise fee - that's a one time payment that the franchisor can't live on forever.

Lawn Doctor does not dictate our prices, suppliers or specific programs. They provide a lot of help, by phone and in person, but the final call is ours. It's not like being completely on your own - you do have obligations to them - so you can view the franchisor as either a nuisance or a safety net. Most dealers in our system are very successful. Most of the few who have failed were sure they knew a better way and didn't follow the template. Or they didn't realize that a franchise is like everything else - it takes commitment and hard work to make it succeed.

The odds of success on your own are low - most businesses fail within four years. A quality franchise dramatically increases your chances of success.

Whitey4
01-18-2008, 05:55 PM
It's an open forum. You bring up some good points, and I learned more about the benefits of franchising, nice job with that. However, some people will still prefer going independent, and there are reasons to justify either approach.

Many LCO's fail too. I think that is due to several factors. When one invests a ton of money for a franchise, that is a decision few will make lightly. Their level of committment to make that large of an investment is greater, and with that, comes a willingness to work harder and smarter.

Many independents go in thinking it will be easy, don't understand how to run any kind of business, don't have a solid business plan and are doomed to fail from the start. It's easier for them to walk away and go find something else to do for a living.

So, I don't think the failure rate of independents is a function of not being franchised, it's a general lack of knowledge as far as the finances, cash flow, advertising, sales ability, work ethic, avoiding law violations, selecting the right equipment and not over-financing,a lack of technical expertise, an unworkable business plan (if any) along with a lack of commitment. Some try to grow too fast. Tons of reasons. Franchises I have no doubt, because of the nature of them, weed those doomed to fail out before they even start.

I agree, especially if one has no background, a franchise is a tremendous help. It isn't any better than going independent, just as going independent isn't better than a franchise. It is more a function of what an individual's expertise and personal preferences are. What is important to each of us is as different as the fingerprints on our hands.

americanlawn
01-18-2008, 06:03 PM
Weed Man & Scotts Lawn are doing swell here. Good guys plus quality work.

Rayholio
01-18-2008, 10:04 PM
The odds of success on your own are low - most businesses fail within four years. A quality franchise dramatically increases your chances of success.

not true.. that's a statement intended to scare potential buyers into a franchise.. "You'll never make it on your own" LOL

“Despite their larger revenues, much better capitalization, and their supposed advantages of affiliation with a franchisor parent firm, the franchisees lag behind cohort young firms in profitability and rates of survival.”

source:
http://www.franchisefoundations.com/articlesiibuyingafranchise.html

Franchisees... What do you really own?

if your parant company collapses, what do you have to show for it? You lose your phone number, and your identity. and don't try to tell me that will never happen.. it's happened before, and it could happen again. sometimes companies make poor decisions.

You're putting your livelyhood, or legacy in someone elses hands.. if you're comfortable with that... more power to you.

rcreech
01-18-2008, 10:13 PM
not true.. that's a statement intended to scare potential buyers into a franchise.. "You'll never make it on your own" LOL

“Despite their larger revenues, much better capitalization, and their supposed advantages of affiliation with a franchisor parent firm, the franchisees lag behind cohort young firms in profitability and rates of survival.”

source:
http://www.franchisefoundations.com/articlesiibuyingafranchise.html

Franchisees... What do you really own?

if your parant company collapses, what do you have to show for it? You lose your phone number, and your identity. and don't try to tell me that will never happen.. it's happened before, and it could happen again. sometimes companies make poor decisions.

You're putting your livelyhood, or legacy in someone elses hands.. if you're comfortable with that... more power to you.

:laugh:

Exactly!

I am so glad that my business is mine!

I believe a person will either make it on they won't.

Name recognition, marketing materials etc will only get you so far!

If you do good work, use good product, take care of your customers and understand how to run a business...you would have to be a moron not to make it!

PHS
01-19-2008, 12:24 PM
you can view the franchisor as either a nuisance or a safety net.

That's a good point. I've never owned a franchise but I have worked for large companies so there are some similarities. For a long time I liked the safety net part of it and it worked well. At some point I started getting squeezed financially by the corporate side of things and I didn't have the freedom to go in some new directions that I wanted to take things and then it became a nuisance.

Now I'm on my own and I appreciate better some the advantages I had with a more structured organization and I appreciate the freedom that I have now. All in all this is a better fit for me.

lawn king
01-19-2008, 01:38 PM
As the former owner of a lawn care franchise, i recommend you don't do it!

sclawndr
01-19-2008, 08:21 PM
As the former owner of a lawn care franchise, i recommend you don't do it!

Well, that's a fair comment since you had direct experience. Any franchisee will tell you it's not everyone's cup of tea. But it simply isn't fair or accurate to pass judgement on franchising in general or a specific franchise without direct knowledge. Lawn Doctor for example, has over 40 years of history and is consistently rated as one of the top 100 franchises in the US. Despite the posts here from those who clearly have had no contact with Lawn Doctor, the only real drawback is the cost of the new franchises.

lawn king
01-19-2008, 09:46 PM
I think there are some that you can make a ton of money owning, however, i dont think lawn care is one of them. Just my opinion, im sure there are lawn doctor franchise owners that would disagree?

Rayholio
01-19-2008, 10:51 PM
what's a 'ton' of money? Heh! Think that's different for everyone.. 50k a year may be a ton to one person, and a million might be the goal of another....

But I think you can make a living either way...

rcreech
01-19-2008, 10:53 PM
what's a 'ton' of money? Heh! Think that's different for everyone.. 50k a year may be a ton to one person, and a million might be the goal of another....

But I think you can make a living either way...

Ray....I would say a ton of money would be about 2000#. :laugh:

TeamSheep
01-19-2008, 10:55 PM
As a long term participant in the lawn care industry, as well as a franchise owner. I had an independent operation long before I had a franchise. The bottom line is that franchises are not for everyone. They have serious advantages, but also trade off's - for some the difference is only perspective.
Personally I resent the assertion that franchises are for people who don't know crap about buisness or lawn care. I knew more than enough to run a successful small-mid sized lawn care company. I also knew more than enough to realize that I was missing a few essential pieces of the puzzle that would take my business to the next level. I knew that being able to increase the quality of the fertilizers that I was applying while simultaniously cutting my overall material cost by more than 50% and by introducing systems that drastically increased my efficiency would be the secret to taking the business to the next step. I'm motivated by numbers. Developing those systems and efficencies on my own would have taken more time, more labor and more mistakes than I was willing to trade. Success takes either time or money - sometimes both. I'm impatient, so I bought a Weed Man.

Owning a franchise in many ways requires having your own personal ego in check. Do you accept that you don't know everything and that you've got things to learn from the experience and knowledge of others? If you've got to do it your own, way - then hang out your own shingle and do it on your own. If success is your objective, shut your mouth, open your ears - and to a certain degree open your wallet.

Frankly there are plenty of people who pay tens of thousands of dollars to consultants every year to find out how they can improve their business, reduce waste, gain the success they want. I get the same support and expertise from someone who actually knows my business; along with the branding, purchase power, etc........ for a fraction of the cost. Oh and Rayholio, you couldn't have been listening too closely to the Weed Man rep, because the your 'royalty' number per truck isn't even remotely close. In fact you're nearly triple the actual number...but I digress.

There are plenty of 'oh I'm such a success' operators in the green industry; frankly they come with varying degrees of success.
I guess I'd be more interested to listen to what they've got to say when they start to reach the same sales numbers as the Weed Man and other franchise operations. I've been around long enough to notice the stories all start to sound the same. Lots of ego, not a lot of results. Sure, many of them reach a certain size; live comfortably, drive a nice car, have a nice house, but they've got nothing beyond a job. The don't have an asset they can sell, they don't have a business with any value beyond what they can put into it. When it comes time to retire or to get out of the operation they've got next to nothing. On the other hand, it's a well documented fact that franchises command a much higher sale price.

Point blank - the national franchises offer better overall pricing. There may be individual products where you can beat a price in one region or another, but on the whole, accepting an identical level of quality an individual business cannot beat the pricing of the big boys. That's just the way it is. Not only do they offer better pricing, they also offer other wicked buying power advantages such as 6-12mo pricing forecasts, and delayed payment terms. Imagine the advantage of knowing what your competitors will be paying for products half a year before they do? What would that do for your business?

Oh, why the franchise rep's won't disclose their product pricing with a prospetcive franchise? The answer is quite simple - pricing agreements in lawncare, as with any industry may be subject to contract/confidentiality agreements. Based on volume purchase, a vendor will negotiate a variety of pricing structures with different purchasers. For obvious reasons, the vendor doesn't want everyone to know the terms that are given to their biggest purchasers.


The 80% failure rate for small business (four year exit rate) is not a franchise figure. It is not a lawn care figure, it's an overall new business start figure. It is a fact, one that can be easily be verified by doing some independent research, not drinking the Kool-aid being passed around.

Frankly, if someone is interested in exploring the franchise route - talk to the franchise companies. They can't hypnotize you or lead you down the garden path. All the terms of the agreement and the parameters of the operation are spelled out clearly in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD - what replaces what was once known as a UFOC). Furthermroe, the FDD has to detail any legal/bankruptcy proceedings within the franchise system. These are public disclosrue documents, they'll give you the answers that you're really seeking. Not recycled info from people who may or not have the full story. Any franchise worth it's salt will recomend that you call to speak to existing franchisees and will highlight franchisees that entered the franchise system from a background similar to yours.

If you like what you see, or don't like it, it's your call. It's an independent decision and I wouldn't give too much credit to so called experts who don't have personal experience owning and running a lawncare franchise.

My appologies for the long rant - I've been simmering for a while on this one.

PSUTURFGEEK
01-20-2008, 12:03 AM
I own a Lawn Doctor franchise. I do not want to sound as if every part of being a Franchisee is perfect but overall I would to say that I am happy. Because of the buying power of our buy groups we pay far less for our products, ranging from printed materials to advertising and to chemicals. Often this makes up for the money we pay to the franchisor for royalties. The support system is also great if a problem arises. The individual Franchise owners are always willing to share their experiences with other franchises. This often saves a less experienced owner from making mistakes that could be costly. For the first two years the training was excellent. Although you do lose some of your individual freedom, I think that the success ratio of franchised business speaks volumes to the power of franchising. It has worked for us.

As you most likely already know, buying groups sound great but the product you get is almost always older dusty fert and being the vendor is making nothing or losing money on you just to get the volume sales your'e always gonna be last on thier list.

Rayholio
01-20-2008, 12:03 AM
Bravo! Very nice post... It's a shame that it's your 1st ever..

so, from what I'm gathering, you're VERY impressed with the pricing on materials.. But you also sell at lower prices... and you have other fees (franchise fees)

are you really making that much more money than a private company with the same number of customers? or are you saying that it's not possible to have as many customers without a franchise behind you? I guess I still don't see how a franchise makes more money than a non-franchise..

As far as business failure rate, Franchises are more likely to fail, because people often come into them with massive debt (due to franchise fees) and are operating off of credit.. if something goes wrong, they fail over night..

I'm curious.. when you became a weed man, did you allready have a successful Lawn maintenance business, or did you buy in cold turkey? And when you did, was it a struggle with money at 1st?

I like to think that I'm a pretty open minded person.. but not having access to any hard numbers makes it awefully hard to be a 'believer'

TeamSheep
01-20-2008, 12:43 AM
I'll answer the questions as they came - or at least attempt to.

I don't sell at lower prices. We position ourselves as a premium service provider. The pricing lets me go above and beyond on the service end of things without having to cut corners on price. Locally I'm very price competitive - but no where near the bottom end. Frankly people expect to pay a proper dollar for a proper service....I also don't want bargain shoppers for customers. I want people who are going to be loyal customers year after year. I operate in excess of a 80% renewal rate year after year.

Am I making more money as a franchise than I was as an independent? - even after paying franchise fees? I assume that's the question you're asking - in a word, yes. Oh and as a real bonus, I'm not married to the company. I'm able to perform the same managment/oversight tasks quicker and more efficiently.

The big difference in where franchises make more money is in the efficency of operation - the oversight and support. You're either paying for your mistakes or someone else's.

I flat out reject the statement that more franchises fail. I don't even need to put my opinion into the debate - look up the various franchise FDD's, then look at the various Small business development offices from state to state. Pick an author who's written on starting your own small business. They all give the same numbers.

I bought a Weed Man after selling my lawn care business. A change in family situation lead to the move. I'm not going to say that money was or wasn't an issue starting out. I probably had a better position from which to start than many, but I'm certainly not a trust fund baby....if anyone has any suggestions on where I can find one.... That said, I wish I'd started out with a franchise years ago. What I spent on the franchise I would have more than saved in little 'missteps' and missed opportunities in the first couple years.

As far as the fertilizer quality - I recieve higher grade material with better service than I ever have before. Three years ago we had a problem with a pre-em product and its formualtion with our fert. Essentially the prill's were sticking to each other and not spreading properly - end result was lots of streaking. Once we realized what the problem was we contacted the manuf. and they had a rep out almost immediately. The problem inventory was replaced within two days and my fungicide purchases for the year were comp'd.
Last week I took delivery of about 18000lbs of fert - turns out I was shipped the wrong prill size because of a coding error at the distributor. One phone call had the mauf. rep at my wharehouse within two hours (his office is more than an hour away) Problem solved.
I'm sure readers have great relationships with their distribution and supply system. I've only got praise for mine.

Weed Man isn't all roses, but on the supply and support side I'm very satisfied. Occasionally I have computuer issues, but then again, I think that may be a late arriving bibilcal plauge for all modern civilization : )

Someone somewhere asked what happens to your business if your franchisor goes kaput. The answer is never simple when it comes to the law......but when it comes to these type of things it boils right down to the contract.

If the franchisor straight up ceases to exist - then what ever you have belongs to you. Their collapse breaches the agreement. You at very least own the hardware, customer lists, client data right to operate. You're also going to have rights to operate under the franchisor name until the conclusion of your originally agreed upon franchise term. At the expiration of the term you may have to discontinue the use of the name - but that all depends on what happens during the dissolution of the franchisor during bankruptcy. Essentially, did someone retain or purchase the trademark/marques.

It's not like if the franchisor collapses someone can show up and take your business - even if the franchisor is purchased by another group, the purchasor has to abide by the contracts in effect prior to the purchase.

Rayholio
01-20-2008, 01:06 AM
Right on.. Well, you know, you do make a good case for the weed man.. of course we'll have to speculate on who makes more money.. the franchisee, or the independant (assuming they're equally qualified) I'm sure that neither end is going to get down to nitty gritty numbers on here.. so lets just all it a draw on that end.

and the rest is give and take.. what one person considers a selling piont, another might hate.. (like the 'big brother' franchiser)

I probably mis-typed.. What I meant to say is that the franchisee is more likely to fail... not the franchise.

americanlawn
01-20-2008, 03:53 PM
Okay - if it's personal experience with a franchise you want .........here's mine. I worked five years for a franchise with annual revenues of two million dollars. By boss (owner of the franchise) was paying $200,000 each year (10%) to the home office for "management fees". He later sued, won, and changed the name of his company. He eventually sold his business and now lives in the life of Riley.

group501
01-20-2008, 05:33 PM
As you most likely already know, buying groups sound great but the product you get is almost always older dusty fert and being the vendor is making nothing or losing money on you just to get the volume sales your'e always gonna be last on thier list.

I pick up my material at a local supplier. I am often loading my truck with the exact same inventory that the other local guys are using. However, more times than not I am paying substantially less for the materials. Also, I would not say that the vendor is making little or nothing from us. They may not be making as much per bag but they do make it up on volume. Once the bid is awarded to a particular vendor we are obligated to purchase from that vendor. If we do not honor the integrity of our buy group we will be suspended from it.

ted putnam
01-20-2008, 06:18 PM
I have done very well with my business. I am proud of myself for this and my family is as well. I have done this without the help of a franchise. I just don't feel that I need one. I am on the threshold of what I consider to be the "next level." The only "piece of the puzzle" that is missing for me is finding good quality,dependable help. I think that is a problem shared by independants as well as franchisees. So unless there is a majic bullet out there that only the franchises know about then I honestly don't think I need it at this point JMHO

sclawndr
01-20-2008, 06:59 PM
I have done very well with my business. I am proud of myself for this and my family is as well. I have done this without the help of a franchise. I just don't feel that I need one. I am on the threshold of what I consider to be the "next level." The only "piece of the puzzle" that is missing for me is finding good quality,dependable help. I think that is a problem shared by independants as well as franchisees. So unless there is a majic bullet out there that only the franchises know about then I honestly don't think I need it at this point JMHO

Congrats for your success. The purpose of a franchise is to help you learn the business quickly without a lot of trial and error and then to help you grow it to whatever level you want. You might not "need" a franchise now but think how much easier it might be for someone just starting out with little or no experience. For you now, the benefit might be having access to a group of owners who could share their experience and a lot of hard data that could help you go from one level to the next, whatever those levels may be. I see a lot of posts from independents asking about material, pricing, insurance, etc. Franchisees don't have to worry about most of this because the franchisor and the internal buy groups are doing that work for us. Good franchisors are always working behind the scenes to develop new products and strategies to help owners grow their business and profitability.

americanlawn
01-21-2008, 06:50 PM
I have known our local Weed Man franchisee guy for twenty years. I think this answers your questiion, but I'm not sure how this helps you??


I also tried (via previous posts) to provide answers to your previous questions. These went to the wayside. ??? What more do you want??

Does anyone here own or have a relationship with a "Weed and Feed" franchise. Example: Lawn Doctor or Weedman.

I would like the pros and cons of owning such franchises.

DJ

PSUTURFGEEK
01-21-2008, 08:48 PM
I pick up my material at a local supplier. I am often loading my truck with the exact same inventory that the other local guys are using. However, more times than not I am paying substantially less for the materials. Also, I would not say that the vendor is making little or nothing from us. They may not be making as much per bag but they do make it up on volume. Once the bid is awarded to a particular vendor we are obligated to purchase from that vendor. If we do not honor the integrity of our buy group we will be suspended from it.

What do you do when a supplier gets the bid and they don't have any central locations like what happned this year??

group501
01-22-2008, 12:38 AM
What do you do when a supplier gets the bid and they don't have any central locations like what happned this year??

Our local buy group did award the bid to a supplier that is about 20 minutes from us. However, if it became a situation where I had to take a truck delivery then so be it. In 7 seasons it has not happened. Other buy groups in the company have been taking truck deliveries for years and I have never heard of any problems with inferior products being shipped. I have heard of problems with the shipping and with billings but never with the quality of the products. One thing that I have learned is that if you don't pay careful attention mistakes do happen and they are not usually in your favor. If there is a problem, a supplier is often more prone to step up to the plate when you are part of a group that buys large quantities of their products.