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Discussion in 'Franchising' started by U.S. Lawns Home Office, May 6, 2010.
And the tread goes silent.
I'll give them the benefit of the doubt as that its pretty obvious that I'm not potential mark...I mean client....
Saw a us lawn truck yesterday...blue and grey econoline van with a Star for a rear side window. had more dents than golf balls have dimples...maybe their 2010 f250 was in the shop getting repaired for hail damage....
I would imagine you get hours of your life saved from combing through old Lawn Site threads trying to figure out how much to charge and what blower to buy and how often to sharpen your blades, and where to buy chemicals your not licensed to spray, how to hire mexicans, where to buy insurance. You know the important stuff.
I'll bet they even throw in a schmancy contract, operations manual, employee manual, training manual.
You probably even get to go to the home office and see how the other schmo's do it and work for free for a week or so just to get the feel of things.
I wonder if they teach you how to interview and hire...
Or how to track your production so you know if your making any money...
What about a client questionnaire so you know what to ask the clients so your sure you can do a good job for them
Hopefully they teach you how to fire someone legally so you don't get your financial clock cleaned.
At a minimum that's what I would expect for 30-K Maybe even a few leads....I don't know just thinking out loud
For 30-K you should get a "get out of jail free card" too.
If I remember right I have only ever seen like ONE US Lawns truck in the Indy area.....
I read this whole thread and it is clear there is a split on the US Lawns concept - not necessarily with US Lawns, but with the franchise concept, in general.
Personally, I think the concept is pretty good. For the support that they provide up-front and from the royalties, the fees really don't seem bad. If you consider that the franchise fee is $2,900 per year, you can also simply surmise that the name, industry contacts, purchasing agreements, bidding systems, marketing, support teams and other franchisees will net you more than that in business and/or lowered headaches/expenses. Even if they do not provide you any immediate national account business, you are ahead of someone starting "cold." If you have one WC claim that their support could have avoided, you will win.
I am strongly considering them for my business. I understand that this is personal opinion on this subject, but I think you have to look past the royalties in dollars and more towards royalties as payments for value-added services.
but your wallet is 30K lighter right out of box...
heck for 30K
12K for a used truck, 3K trailer, 8K NEW ZTR, 1K new hand helds leaving 7K for marketing, quickbooks, computers, truck lettering, ect...
its not like you are franchising a McDonalds or a Carraba's, US lawns just isn't really that well known. I can count on one hand the amounts of times Ive seen a US lawns truck in the last 5 years. and I'm in a major metropolitan area... with tons of US lawns core focus properties for maintenance.
the barriers to entry into the lawn and landscaping business are so low that ANYONE can do it.. and while the person who start out with a big box store rider isn't going to win any 20-30K contracts their first year, they can and will make money.
Thin about this. Your first year in business you get a big 30K contract...right out of th ebox. are you mentally and physiclaly ready for the challenge of managing a big property and managing labor. Again doing the actually work, cutting grass, trimming shrubs, ect is easy... running the business is what makes and breaks people.
Thanks for your input on the situation. I can certainly see how both sides can be viewed and neither is right or wrong. It is all personal opinion.
Let's assume that there is no name recognition related to US Lawns. Though I don't think they are as recognized as McDonalds or other cultural icons to the general public, I think there is some recognition in certain industries and circles. Here is how I look at it related to several "what if's".
What if...the US Lawns national accounts nets an extra $1000 off on each mower that you buy over what you can get? Knowing national accounts and the leverage of Valley Crest, this is probably a conservative estimate.
What if...the US Lawns relationships on vehicles not only allows the business to purchase in major fleet pricing, but offers competitive leasing arrangements? Save money that heads to the bottom line.
What if...US Lawns proven systems for bidding, etc. lands three contracts this year that you may not have gotten without them? Major portions of the bidding learning curve are eliminated through their system. Someone still has to bid it and do a good bid, but it should be quicker out of the blocks. Maybe the business hits year 3 levels in the 2nd year?
What if....US Lawns personnel systems put the business in a better position to prevent a WC claim through administrative processes that they have? Maybe these systems save money in the eyes of your insurer. What if you can save time from developing and administering these and instead be out selling?
What if...the marketing materials provided are so much better than without being attached to them and it lands some business?
And on and on and on....I am sure that these can all be looked at from the other side, too.
Now, I am not trying to make a case for or against US Lawns, but there may be several things that are devalued when you just consider that the franchise fee is just "money out of your pocket up-front." Maybe the franchisee gets something for that money that will help him be more successful...quicker...with less headaches.
Like I said before, its an opinion. Mine is that serious consideration needs to be given to anything that could get you out of the blocks faster. Someone still has to run the business competently and not running correctly is a big issue, as you noted. US Lawns can't help you there much, except by giving some oversight and programs. It's still up to the operator.
All very good what ifs...
so lets say you save 1000 bucks on each mower, and 5K on a new truck and pick up at 20K contract... you still have to front the money/finance the purchases
30K is a huge chunk of money up front and you still have to buy the equipment so your potential start up costs are now 50K 20K (equipment ect) 30K franchise...
that's a pretty big hole to dig yourself out of... with out a single job to show for it...and no guarantees on any jobs.
take at look at their web site
The minimum financial requirement to open a U.S. Lawns franchise in the United States is $175,000 net worth with a minimum of $35,000 in liquid assets plus the ability to cover living expenses for the first full year of business.
Type of Expenditure
Service Vehicle (down payment, security deposit and three months of lease payments)
Equipment, Tools, Insurance
Operating Expenses (Three Months)
Additional Funds (Three Months)
I understand what you are saying in your reply. However, most of those other expenses will be incurred anyway (unless you are already established or, in some part, working from your home). You need a service vehicle, equipment, trailer, utilities, rent, supplies, etc. So really the only outstanding part versus starting on your own is the franchise fee (which can be financed).
It ALL comes down to whether you believe the franchise and royalty fees have any value beyond just taking money from your pocket. From researching several franchises, I believe the answer is "yes." I fully believe that there is opportunity in the value-added items provided from the relationship (apart from the name). The fact that the model has been repeated some 200+ times says something about its viability. Whether it is enough value to make me go that way or not is a different story.
You can read too much into the "liquid" requirements of a franchise, too. I believe a franchise looks at if from the perspective of "can this guy make it through the rough time or is he going broke in 60 days." Both the franchisee and the franchisor are in this together in many ways. The franchisor will be around a long time with or without you. If the franchisee doesn't have the cash for staying power, they will be gone and both lose.
It's really all opinion on whether or not there is value in the franchise fees to whoever is making the decision.
I agree...is the investment worth it...
I don't think so, but I did my business thing when gas was under a buck and the economy was doing good... and you did not have nearly as much competition for the available work... I honestly believe I could make a go of it again and be successful...I'm happy doing my current gig right now...and I don't see me going back to work for myself for medical reasons more than anything...