Challenging the norm in any industry is a difficult feat. But for Paul Kawoczka and Dan Nichols, flipping the script was the only way for them to successfully get their emerging franchise concept—Enliven Planters—off the ground.
Kawoczka and Nichols first met while they were studying together at Pennsylvania State University. After graduation, Kawoczka broke into the high-end segment of the residential landscape design industry and worked for Terrain as an estate garden designer while Nichols worked as an urban planner and designer for a small firm in Philadelphia. And while they both loved the work that they were doing, they thought that there had to be a better way to make top quality landscaping services available to the general public. So they decided to come up with a more mainstream solution to bridge the industry’s widening gap away from consumers.
“Working in residential landscape design opened the door to some amazing opportunities. I was designing yards for multi-million dollar estates right out of college. But there are only so many people out there who are willing to spend that kind of money on the outside of their homes,” said Kawoczka. “That’s how the idea for Enliven Planters came about. Our sole belief is that everyone should be able to enjoy a green and growing environment.”
Enliven Planters takes the model most often associated with brands like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh and applies it to the landscaping industry. The brand’s designers create custom planters for their customers that then change on a quarterly basis. It’s a seasonal planter subscription service—after a design consultation, Enliven Planters continues to refill its customers’ planters with designs that fit their unique tastes and styles.
In today’s convenience-driven society, it’s no surprise that customers close to the brand’s home in Philadelphia are catching on to the benefits of a subscription landscaping service. But because the concept is the first of its kind in the industry, Kawoczka and Nichols have been facing a few roadblocks.
“The most difficult part for us has been reimagining the way that people take care of their planters. Our approach is completely innovative, and there’s been a steep learning curve when it comes to figuring out the best way to get this product out there in a way that resonates with consumers,” said Kawoczka. “Once people have the opportunity to learn what we’re all about, they’re hooked. That’s why we’re excited to break into franchising and continue to educate consumers about everything that Enliven Planters offers.”
Kawoczka and Nichols decided to expand through franchising because they already had a strong system in place that they realized would be easy for other entrepreneurs to replicate. And as they begin to scale their business and grow in new East Coast cities like Richmond, Virginia and Boston, Massachusetts, the emerging franchisors are figuring out how to streamline not only their supply chain, but also their designs.
“We first met Paul and Dan from Enliven Planters about a year ago. Since that initial introduction, we’ve been able to help improve their operations and streamline their processes as they continue to expand their service coverage,” said Dawn Abbamondi, director of marketing and brand development for SMB Franchise Advisors. “We’re so proud of all of the progress that they’ve made over the past 12 months. Now, the next step is to evaluate how to best go to market in order to position the brand for continued growth and success.”
While getting Enliven Planters off the ground hasn’t been an easy task, Kawoczka and Nichols are excited to move forward through franchising. Instead of going it alone, they know have the opportunity to build a strong network and eliminate unnecessary growing pains.
“We’re confident that this concept will work in communities across the country. People are willing to pay a couple hundred bucks a year to make sure that their front door looks awesome, and Enliven Planters is the first brand that combines high quality designs with affordable prices,” said Kawoczka. “Even though we still face challenges in properly educating consumers about our services, there’s no doubt in my mind that our expansion efforts will be successful.”