Lawn Franchises - good or bad?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Zimbo, Aug 23, 2008.

  1. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,680

    I was thinking about franchises last night. My wife works for A&W and was a manager formWendys before that.

    More often than not the franchise works for an owner who is NOT there.
    It's not a mom and pop operation and wouldnt work in that scenario.

    They are set up for you to drop in your set up fee and have an instant business. The less involved you are, the better they work for you.

    The A & W my wife works for work like a 5 year old child with a broken back.
    But no body cares, people come and buy burgers and ice cream, no ones ever happy (workers and customer alike) and everyone goes back.
    It's not a good buiness, it's just a running one.

    I suppose that would hold true for lawn franchises as well.
    AS long as YOU arent DOING the work, why does it matter HOW it gets done,WHAT lawn mowers are being used or WHO your customers are?
    These things are designed for business owners,not business operators, and less you know about (and care) about mowers, and customer service and landscaping at all? the better.
  2. Manicured

    Manicured LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18


    Please keep in mind that a person who buys a franchise really doesn't own their business. When you buy a franchise you own it for only 10 years. Then you have to buy it again from US LAwns. I bet they didn't share that tad bit of information with you. Furthermore, you can "own" your business for a total of only 30 years. So, the grand idea of passing a family owned business down to your son is totally out of the question. And in reference to Larryinalabama's question if you sell your business they have first option to purchase it. Also if you sell to someone else they have to approve of the person(s) first. If you sell your business or just "get out" you are already bound to a "noncompete for 2 years clause in your original contract. They have thought of everything.

    I think that a person who bought into a franchise would need to have a lot of money (maybe 50,000-75,000) to bridge the gap until the business took off. This is where I failed to plan. And as stated before in this forum a person needs to ask the right questions. When I was in Orlando I asked US Lawns how much does the average franchise owner make? The vice president stated that they had no idea. Followed by the statement that it was none of their business. I should have follwed up more on that reply. Please don't get me wrong guys (Cart-away) I am in no way trying to slam US Lawns or any other franchise for that matter. I just wanted Zimbo to realize that your relationship with the home office is often not as you might orginally think.

    When your assigned "coach" comes to visit you (approximately once a month) it can be a great experience or a bad one. Often there is a lot of turnover in feild coaches which adds a lot of stress. Keep in mind also that your coach is also the policy compliance officer. Thus a person who buys a franchise must be a individual that has no problem with being subservant to a higher authority. This is another area that I personally struggled with because I usually speak-up if I don't agree with a certain action or rule.

    I will tell zimbo another thing as well. If I knew nothing about the green industry I would have been totally unprepared to start a lawn care business afer attending US Lawn's one week basic training in Orlando FL. Most of the time was spent on the computers filling out proposals and how to submit your monthly reports. If I recall correctly only 4 hours was spent (by a doctor from Valley Crest) on how to mow, identify turf diseases, properly prune plants, explain the need for aeration, fertilizers and annual plant beds. Needless to say it was a masterpiece in action! And keep in mind that a lot of the people who buy a US Lawns franchises have no prior experience. I wonder if many of them know that a person might actually sweat and work long days. US Lawns wants all of their franchise owners to stay busy searching for new accounts and never work in the field. But as we all know employees like that are few and far between.

    Cart-away might have a great opportunity for some of you. US Lawns has probably been a fantastic decision for others as well. And as stated (very well by another) look over the franchise offering very closely. Ask someone in your family, a member of your church who is gifted in fiance or ask an attorney to review their uniform franchise circular before you buy.

    Zimbo, I hope this helped.
  3. Black Bear

    Black Bear LawnSite Member
    Messages: 45

    I owned a lawn care franchise, run fast.
    Promised buying power, promised training, promised great marketing, promised fertilizer that was solely their's-what a joke.
    As was pointed out in an earlier post, service fees. Most are 7-11% of GROSS, not net, add in the "rebates" they get from suppliers add another 2-5% on top of the service fees in higher material costs. Bottom-line is you are paying them over 50% of your NET, if you are making 20% which is never going to happen in the first few years with start-up costs.
    BTW, most take their service fees each week right out of your checking account. As for taking the accounts and just leaving, most agreements state that the franchisor own's the customers. Bottom-line is you are buying a job, they are your 50% partner and have no risk.
    Should you have any detailed questions send me a PM.
  4. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    In fairness to Cart Away and possibly myself in the future each franchise is sets their own parameters. Percentages, length of contract and so on, like any other business some are better than others. I am still amazed anyone would buy such a piece of crap. No offense manicured and black bear :waving: Maybe my model has hope after all, I sure wouldn't sell something I wouldn't buy myself.
  5. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,003

    US Lawns advertises ont this site I wonder why they dont respont to this thred.

    The whole deal with a franchise is the name. If you want a Taco you go to Taco Bell, there all the same.

    But lawn care varies from place to place even from yard to yard. I ran a lawn care business in So California for 4 years. Here in Alabama its a completely different world.
    However a Taco Bell Taco is the same in Bama as the ones in California.

    If you know nothing about lawn care your something better than any franchise would be to buy a existing route and have the seller ride with you for a month.
  6. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    Yea if all you want to buy is accounts but what if you didn't want to deal with all the problems that are discussed at nauseum here on site? What if you just wanted to forgo all the trial and error and just start making money?

    Franchise buyers don't want a job or a hobby they want a money making machine they can manage. As difficult as we all make this industry it is not rocket science. Grass/plants grow the same in Cal and Bama I will grant you there are different varieties but for the most part it is the same business.
  7. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    This is just freaky. This company was brought to my attention by Johnny Royal from our brethren in the great white north.

    What is so ironic is this is the name of my company prior to Sept 1st is "The Gardener" I just had to change it. So not only is the name the same but the model looks way too familiar Zimbo you may want to look into this one.

    Hell if I wasn't so far along I might buy one myself. 25-K is pretty reasonable and they have a revenue guarantee. Man I could have saved a bundle on uniforms over the last 8 years. At the very least I am going to have to shop them.
  8. aem910

    aem910 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    I've been reading past threads on franchises and this is the best one so far. As a token of my bump!

    Zimbo - So did you go with a franchise?

    Az Gardener - Any update on your franchise model or still working on it?

    Manicured - Great insight on US Lawns, thanks!

    TPendagast - very interesting the way you ran your CT operation. Thanks for sharing!
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2010
  9. bluegranite

    bluegranite LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    So it has been a little while. Zimbo, What did you decide to do? How has your choice worked for you?

    CHUCK'SLAWN LawnSite Member
    Messages: 81

    I actually had several talks with US Lawns about 8 years ago because my area was open after going around & around I backed out. A guy about three miles from me bought the franchise and now has 12 rigs running so it must have worked out good for this guy.

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