The Freedom Lawns annual franchise owners meeting is usually filled with the sharing of some good food, personal lawn care “war stories”, and some laughs. Due to the concern of COVID-19, this year’s meeting like most gatherings throughout the world went virtual.
Although some of the in-person comradery was certainly missed, the event still included some extremely useful information that should propel all owners to the next level in 2021!
A few of the topics that were discussed included some new products that will be available this spring, the role out of the newest Freedom Lawns TV and video spots, TV streaming options, social media and website enhancements, direct mail options and more!
Although we all missed the “social“ experience that our previous in person meetings offered, our first and hopefully last virtual meeting was generally considered a success and a building block toward a profitable 2021 for all!
Buying a franchise can be an easy and straightforward way to dive into your entrepreneurial dreams. Consider that, with a franchise, you are buying into a proven business model and most of the hard work required upfront has been done for you. You can buy into a widely known and respected brand and capitalize on the brand awareness and support from headquarters.
However, when purchasing a franchise, it is easy to bypass the red tape and make mistakes that can cost you in the long run.
Here are 8 costly mistakes to avoid when buying a franchise.
Not Doing Your Market Research
A successful franchise in your region does not guarantee that your specific location will be successful. You still need to do market research to determine viability of the franchise in your desired locale. Once you have done the appropriate research and found out that this concept will do well, now you’ll want to review the franchisor business plan. Why? You want to ensure that the business plan is something that makes sense for your situation. Conducting market research will save you a lot of heartache in the long run.
Buying into the Latest Trend
We get it. Poke bowl restaurants and cute tea shops are fun and trendy concepts. However, one thing to evaluate when choosing a franchise is longevity. Will the current franchise trend hold up in the years to come? Franchise directories like to promote current “hot” franchises, but these are meaningless for the most part. Investing in a tried-and-true franchise is more likely to be the better bet. If you have done your local market research, evaluated the franchisor business plan, and still want to pursue a trendy franchise, then you are better off than someone who is choosing a trendy franchise simply for the novelty.
Hiring an Attorney Too Late
Hiring an attorney with experience representing franchisees should be done before you sign the franchise disclosure document. The value that an experienced attorney brings is immeasurable. He or she can help translate the difficult legal language of the agreement, advise on business entity structure, and guide you pre- and post-purchase.
Failing to Read Through the Franchise Disclosure Document
A critical step in the franchise buying process is validation of the franchise. The franchise disclosure document is a lengthy document that lays out everything you will need to know, including fees, how to manage the operation, reporting, restrictions, current franchisees, and so much more. During the review of the FDD, you will be able to evaluate if the franchise is in alignment with how you want to do business. It is important that you understand every clause before proceeding with the purchase. As mentioned above, this is where an attorney will become helpful.
You will want to contact a few of the existing and former franchisees to learn about their experience within the franchise system. While you cannot reasonably expect every franchisee to be 100% satisfied, you will want to approach the franchisor with the information found so you can get feedback. Failing to validate the franchise is a big mistake that can be costly down the road.
Believing Bigger is Better
A common assumption is that the larger the franchise, the more successful it must be. Therefore, you let your guard down and ignore warning signs or fail to do proper research. Large franchises can reach a point of market saturation and offer less economic value due to smaller territories. There is also the risk of poor reputation with a mega franchise system. For example, a certain restaurant franchise that we all know and love, has a reputation for their ice cream machines always being broke. This has led to many memes and viral social media posts mocking the franchise. A smaller franchise that is financially profitable and with a good reputation can also provide an excellent opportunity.
No Business Planning
The popular quote from Alan Lakein is “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” There is no truer sentiment in business. While buying a franchise comes with a set of systems and procedures in place, you will still need to do yearly, quarterly, and monthly business planning. A business plan will help you plan future launches, marketing campaigns, revenue projections, and keep you on track in terms what needs to be done and how to do it.
Not Checking Core Values
Simon Sinek is famous for his concept that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The ‘why’ he is referring to is your beliefs and values. It is important to know why and how the franchise came to be in existence. If a franchise is in it only for the money or the values differ from your, you will have a rough time down the road.
You Go Rogue
One of the benefits of buying into a franchise is the brand awareness and proven business model. So, while you think the color scheme could be improved or the menu expanded, it is best to bring it up to headquarters instead of going rogue. A consequence of implementing unapproved changes to the business could be turning off customers who are loyal to the brand or violating your franchisee terms of agreement.
By avoiding these 8 costly mistakes when opening a franchise, you will increase your odds of succeeding with your chosen franchise.
A changing and diverse economy has led to continued growth in entrepreneurship. Those who desire to start their own business have access to a wide range of tools at their fingertips thanks to technology. While commonly touted statistics like “more than half of businesses will fail in the first year” can be discouraging, there are ways to survive the new business landscape.
Here are six reasons you may want to consider opening a franchise business versus one on your own.
You Have Support
Entrepreneurs who start a business from the ground up can encounter a steep learning curve alongside running the business solo. As a franchisee, you can go into business for yourself but not by yourself with a strong system in place to help you launch successfully. Freedom Lawns considers all franchise owners business partners.
A perk of buying into a franchise is the initial and ongoing training support you receive. Typically, there will be an onboarding phase in which you will receive initial training (1 to 2 weeks), business launch training, and a grand opening. During this crucial time, you can expect weekly assistance to get your business up and running successfully. The ongoing support is equally as important as the initial training as your busines matures
Throughout the year, there are opportunities for seminars, conventions, and additional trainings.
In the first year of any business, franchise or not, marketing is imperative. An independent business will not have past data to inform business decisions, thus, there will be a learning curve and potential loss of marketing dollars.
The franchisor will already be working with a marketing agency or have in-house personnel that can kick off your marketing efforts with precision. They will already have the knowledge of what works and what does not, therefore saving you advertising dollars.
Although rare, it is not unheard of for franchises to offer financing support to qualified candidates. Freedom Lawns is proud to offer 3rd party financial support to those who qualify. Freedom Lawns is also an approved SBA franchise.
Higher Rate of Success
By buying into a franchise, you get a ready-to-go business with a proven business model. Some of the best-known and well received franchises have a success rate in the low single digits. Statistical studies done on franchise failure rates show an average rate of 15%-35%. However, as mentioned above, popular franchises can fail at a rate of 1%. It is important to remember that the successful model of the franchise can only be replicated if you follow it.
The reason behind the phenomenal success rates of franchises is that the franchisor has worked endlessly to make their business successful and created a replicable model. They laid the foundation, so you do not have to. Obviously, independent start-ups will have to do their own groundwork and at their own peril. Franchise partnerships can minimize the trial and error approach which can result in wasted expenses.
Lastly, a well-known and reputable franchise will have achieved significant brand awareness which allows you a greater chance of success.
You Become Part of a Team
As a franchisee, you become part of a team working together towards a common goal while offering support to one another along the way. A new franchisee can tap into this network to ask for advice and to connect with someone like them. As a brand, this network holds more power and recognition than that of a single owner.
Handbook to A Proven Model
A common mistake amongst entrepreneurs is trying to figure everything out by themselves. A franchise allows you to bypass the frustration and headache by avoiding the mistakes that happen with a new business.
Once the franchise fee has been paid, the franchise will onboard you so you can start as soon as possible. The training will teach you the business model you will need to achieve their replicable success.
One of the biggest benefits of a franchise is the brand awareness among consumers. A reputable franchise will have established a recognizable name among consumers, which you can benefit from. People prefer to do business with and buy from brands they trust. As the franchise system continues to expand, the exposure from marketing efforts will continue to drive brand forward.
All this to say, the established business model and level of brand awareness will net you a quicker return on your investment.
Franchises can be less expensive than a start-up because they are less likely to make the same costly mistakes that happen with a start-up. To put it simply, franchises have done the work to know what works and what does not.
Here are a few cost-saving benefits that franchises can offer:
A global pandemic, a downturn in the economy, unrest in some of our largest cities, and a political environment that is not only uncertain, but hostile.
Are there any industries in today’s world that can escape these horrific times, remain profitable, and even manage to grow? You bet there is.
Our Freedom Lawns philosophy can be summed up like this, “The best way to predict the future is to take matters into your own hands, believe in yourself, and make something happen!”
The Professional Lawn Care industry (not mowing, but making lawns healthier, more pest free, and beautiful), has been around since the early 1960s. During this time, our industry has worked through at least four periods of economic downturn and has maintained or grown in every one of these periods.
Most Recently, many of our Freedom Lawns franchise partners have experienced their most successful and profitable year to date during our recent Covid-19 pandemic.
How did that happen? First, our franchise system offers our franchise partners all the tools they need to be successful. This includes a lawn and plant care program that works, a marketing team that is skilled, creative, and loves to produce results, and a system that is easy for others to follow. Second, our business model is affordable for most and viewed by homeowners and commercial managers alike as a great value. Third, our unique approach to professional lawn care and dedication toward environmental stewardship makes Freedom Lawns a clear choice for the consumer.
So yes, there is no better time for us to help you take matters into your own hands and lets start making something happen together!
The good health of our franchise partners, their families and all Freedom Lawn’s clients is our highest priority during the Covid-19 crises. We have taken all the necessary steps to ensure the safety of everyone associated with Freedom Lawns USA.
We are pleased to report that while other industries are unfortunately unable to operate during these trying times, our franchise owners continue to generate revenue and growth. This is directly related to the structure of our programs and philosophies which are the perfect model for social distance mandates during economic downturns.
One of my most vivid memories while studying soil science in college, was when one of my fellow students referred to soil as “dirt.” Using the word dirt instead of soil did not go over so well to my brilliant, but stuffy professor who immediately said to my classmate. “Son, we’re taking about soil here with thousands of living microorganisms, not dirt. Dirt is something you sweep up with a vacuum cleaner.” As rude as that was, the professor got his point across. From that day forward, everyone in the class referred to that top layer of the earth where plants grow as soil, not dirt!
Truth be told, the key to all plant life is a healthy soil. A healthy soil is determined by the amount of beneficial microbial activity, nutrient value, and of course, the soils pH value. All plants have specific soil Ph factors for optimum growth and good health. For example, the soils pH for a healthy blueberry crop is 4.3 to 5.0. These pH values are considered very low and most plants would perform poorly in these acidic ranges. Contrary to that, most plants, flowers, and trees will perform well at a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 with 6.5 being ideal. The specific soil pH requirements for each plant type will directly affect the plant or trees ability to utilize the natural nutrients in the soil or fertilizer applied. If a pH value is not within a range considered favorable for a certain plant, that plant may not reach its fullest potential.
The amount of organic matter in a soil also plays a role in the health of a plant. Organic fertilizers, compost, and humates, all help feed microorganisms that are in turn, responsible for converting nutrients in the soil into a form that the plants can absorb and use.
A healthy soil will also have good air movement, allowing the roots to grow and breathe. This is one reason why core aeration is performed so often on golf course greens and higher maintained home lawns. The loose non-compacted soil structure will provide a healthy environment for microbes and will allow your plants root system to become more extensive and robust. In turn, the loose non-compacted soil structure will handle environmental stresses and pest pressures much better.
So, the next time you go to the garden center to buy a plant, don’t forget to pick up some good dirt….I mean soil!
Lawns USA conducted their annual Turfgrass and Plant care workshop on September
26, 2019. The event was held along the beautiful beachfront in Surf City, NC at
the Surf Center conference room.
filled lineup of speakers presented valuable information to our franchise
owners and their employees. Matt Martin Extensions Turfgrass Specialist, NC
State University discussed some of the latest research and products in the lawn
care industry. Horticulture extension coordinator Susan Brown gave us insight
into the some of the more common insect and disease
issues that were problematic during the recent growing season. Dr Susana
Milla-Lewis, NC State University gave a fascinating insight on the Turfgrass
Breeding and Genetic engineering of new Turf varieties and cultivars being
worked on at the University. Lee Butler, Coordinator of the NC State University
diagnostic lab and extension plant pathology Department, explained the process
that takes place in diagnosing various diseases and plant parasitic nematodes.
Lawns USA’s CEO and Founder Mark A. Tamn gave the group some good information
on steps for diagnosing lawn and plant care problems and making sound agronomic
decisions in the field.
The group also enjoyed a tasty lunch at Daddy Mac’s Beachfront Restaurant compliments of the Freedom Lawns Corporate office following the workshop. The day was considered a great success by all who attended!
Being a woman in a predominantly male oriented industry such
as professional lawn care hasn’t deterred Kathleen Smith, owner of Freedom
Lawns of Charleston, SC, from achieving success with her organic based lawn
At a young age, you could find her on the court and on the green with the rest of the guys. She loved sports and was always outside. When her brothers were too young to play golf, she played in a “father and son” golf tournaments with her dad. Never did Kathleen feel out of place or at a disadvantage because she was a girl. “I was just another one in the game, trying to win! That’s how I even feel now in the business world,” said Kathleen. As one would assume, lawn care of any type is not a job you would expect to see a woman in a leadership role. Never has she viewed herself as different from the guys she works with.
In owning a Freedom Lawns USA Franchise, Kathleen found that
her greatest challenge is not working with men, but rather juggling all her
responsibilities. “Owning a business means that there are many times in which
business bleeds into your personal time. I get behind on my own lawn work,
things around the house and even having quality time with my daughters,” stated
She has also faced challenges in her family life all while
trying to run her own business. In the same year that Kathleen started her
Freedom Lawns her husband was diagnosed with ALS. In a year and a half her
husband’s ALS progressed and with it came adjustments during his illness and
after he passed. To make matters worse, a couple of years later her business
partner decided to pursue other interests.
These events, however, did not discourage Kathleen from
growing her Freedom Lawns business. “I wouldn’t have believed I could overcome
all the hurdles. I don’t ever stop and think about it. I just stay in the
present and try to keep moving forward,” expressed Kathleen.
When starting the business, Kathleen stated that the corporate office really set her up for success. “The franchise gave me the framework to build my business. By following the guidelines they created for success, I was able to adapt to the world or entrepreneurship.” She also mentioned that during those difficult times in her life the corporate office was there to guide her. “It never goes without bumps in the road, but the corporate office is there to guide me through those too,” added Kathleen.
So, in her advice to woman who want to become business
owners she states that, “as in everything in life, things don’t always go as
planned. Don’t give up, just adjust to the situation and find a way to keep
moving forward.” Kathleen also mentioned that you must take the time to find
something that will be fulfilling to you and to know your strengths and
weaknesses. “Make sure you understand what you can expect out of your business
at start up and aim high but anticipate the struggles that will surely come
along with such a journey. Sometimes setting yourself up for success can take
years. You have to decide the path that will work best for you.”
Kathleen has certainly found her path and now her Freedom
Lawn operation is one of the finest lawn care companies in the Charleston area.
Great work Kathleen!
Freedom Lawns is an organic based lawn care franchise
company based out of North Carolina.