On February 15, Kevin Galbreath officially opened his new Lawn Doctor business in San Marcos, Texas. The 33-year-old entrepreneur had been preparing for the opening throughout the fall and winter, training with other franchisees and marketing the new business throughout his territory. Now, just a half-year after Galbreath first discovered Lawn Doctor, he’s already anticipating significant growth for his business.
Galbreath’s Lawn Doctor represents his first foray into the worlds of franchising and business ownership. For years after college, Galbreath worked in the corporate world, making the most out of his degree in international studies (with a focus on Latin American business) as an international sales manager for a Swedish power-products manufacturer. Galbreath even lived in Costa Rica for a year before his wife, Rachel, gave birth to their first child, at which point they moved back to the states, but Galbreath continued to travel. Once Rachel was pregnant with their second child, Galbreath decided it was time to stay put, so he transferred to a position that did not require travel. It wasn’t long after that transition that Galbreath found himself becoming burnt out on the corporate world altogether.
“They always tell you that you are making your own decisions, but you aren’t,” Galbreath said. “Even when you are running a department, you can’t make any decisions without getting all sort of approvals and working through all the red tape. I was tired of it.”
Galbreath knew that he wanted to own his own business, but he wasn’t sure where to start. Still, in the early stages of his career, Galbreath couldn’t say he’d mastered the world of business, and he wasn’t confident investing his future in something he’d have to build from scratch. Like many entrepreneurs in Galbreath’s position, he decided to look into franchising.
“I began researching different franchises, and I really liked what I saw,” Galbreath said. “It was the perfect way for me to own a business without having to build it from the ground up. Of course, I also saw some negative things, people who invested in a model that wasn’t right for them and were struggling, so I wanted to be sure to find the right business.”
To help find a franchise concept that matched his skill set and lifestyle, Galbreath hired a franchise broker, who quickly introduced Galbreath to Lawn Doctor.
“He worked with me to learn everything about my interests and business experience, and he matched me with a few different businesses. One of the very first ones he showed me was Lawn Doctor,” Galbreath said. “Right away I was intrigued.”
Galbreath said there were three things he saw that initially drew him to—and ultimately sold him on—Lawn Doctor. The first was the franchise’s average startup costs, which at $101,890–$115,940 are significantly lower than the costs for most other concepts in the segment. The second aspect of the business that appealed to Galbreath was its recurring revenue model, which ensured a steady stream of business throughout the year, taking much of the unpredictability out of the business. Finally, Galbreath was struck by the franchise’s deliberately scalable model, which was designed to encourage large-scale growth for franchisees.
“When you look into the franchise model, you see how it’s built for new franchisees to get up on their feet quickly,” Galbreath said. “Not only is the franchise fee lower than other brands', most of it goes right back toward things you need for the job, like signs, invoice forms and equipment, so when you pay that initial fee, you are investing directly into your business, and there really aren’t that many other costs. From there, it’s easy and inexpensive to grow. You can take on a second territory and get more trucks out on the road without having to build another location or find a whole new staff. You can’t find that kind of scalability with other models.”
In early October, Galbreath went to a Lawn Doctor discovery day, where he met with members of the corporate team. He learned how those features that attracted him to the brand were not just ancillary benefits for franchisees, they were foundational aspects of the Lawn Doctor business model.
“When I was meeting with everyone at the discovery day, it became clear how the brand’s first priority is the franchisee” Galbreath said. They don’t just say that. Their entire growth strategy for the brand is about encouraging the growth of their franchisees, so everything they do works to support the franchisees.”
Shortly after the discovery day, Galbreath signed on to become a Lawn Doctor owner and set to work training and marketing. According to Lawn Doctor’s Vice President of Franchise Development, Eric Martin, the benefits of Galbreath’s young age immediately became apparent.
“This is a business that has historically appealed to a slightly older generation,” Martin said. “Millennials don’t tend to have as much interest in lawns, but that’s exactly where Kevin sees a big opportunity. Millennials are moving to the suburbs and are busy with their careers. The younger, dual income family of today places a huge premium on their downtime, more so than that of previous generations. They have embraced the ‘do it for me’ mentality and there’s a substantial market there for our services. Kevin sees that clearly and he knows how to take advantage of it.”
Galbreath says his young age has already played a big role in setting his business up for early success. “Lawn Doctor is very savvy with online and social media marketing, and because we’re a part of our target demographic, we have comfort in how to work with and market to these people. This was a big decision to make at our age, but we knew that the sooner we got started, the greater potential we’d have for our future.”
Now that Galbreath’s Lawn Doctor is open, he’s already considering his long-term and short-term plans for expansion.
“We’re talking about growth,” Galbreath said. “It’s early, but our area is growing fast and we can already see a lot of potential for organic growth over the next couple of years. This is a business that is built to grow, and we’re excited to capitalize on that.”