Dan Carness spent years in corporate America. This year, he decided to make a change, trading his office for a business of his own with Lawn Doctor.
Carness opened his Lawn Doctor in February, and he began servicing his first customers in March. Now, just three months later, he’s already preparing to expand his reach into outlining areas.
Carness, a lifelong Pittsburgher, began looking into business ownership last summer when his longtime corporate job moved out of state.
“I spent my whole career in corporate America. When my company left Pittsburgh, I was ready to leave the corporate world,” Carness said.
Carness was eager to find something he could run on his own, but he wasn’t sure where to start. He got in touch with a franchise broker, who quizzed Carness on his interests before recommending potential brands for him to look into.
“It was basically a personality test,” Carness said. “He asked me all about my interests, lifestyle and what I wanted in my life, and he took the results and recommended a number of different franchise concepts that he thought would fit.”
Starting with six brands, Carness began narrowing down the candidates, ruling out concepts that he suspected might propose operational hurdles. Eventually, he was left with just one brand: Lawn Doctor.
“Some of the brands I looked at, I ruled out immediately,” he said. “Others I looked into more carefully. I was looking for something that would have a strong client base in my area and something that would offer a lot of support since I’ve never run a business before.”
Lawn Doctor, Carness says, offered exactly that.
“It seemed to be the whole package. There are ample clients in just about any area, but certainly in mine. And their support system seemed very strong,” he said.
Carness’s analysis was confirmed by the multiple Lawn Doctor franchisees that the franchise’s development team put him in touch with to talk about their experiences with the brand.
“They gave me a list of franchisees to get in touch with, including former franchisees, and they all said the same things. They all said the model just works and it keeps getting better,” he said.
So, Carness got back in touch with Lawn Doctor’s development team and began the process of becoming an owner. Guiding him through the process was Eric Martin, Lawn Doctor’s vice president of franchise development. Carness says Martin, like everyone else he met at Lawn Doctor, quickly made him feel at home with the brand.
“I had met with a few franchise development people for other brands before meeting Eric, and if he was like most of them, I may not have followed through with Lawn Doctor,” he said. “Eric put such a friendly and professional face to the company. He treated me like an old friend and made sure I knew he was available as a resource, and that’s really indicative of my whole experience with Lawn Doctor.
Martin says the feeling was mutual.
“Dan is a great fit in our culture, and that was immediately clear,” said Martin. “We think of Lawn Doctor as a family, and it’s important that everyone on our team, from our corporate staff to our owners to their employees, is working to support each other, and there was little doubt in my mind that Dan shared that attitude.”
After signing up and completing Lawn Doctor’s comprehensive training program, Carness opened his Lawn Doctor in February, taking over an existing territory from a retiring owner and opening a brand new one.
Even though he anticipated a certain amount of work immediately from the existing customer base, Carness says he’s been busier than he expected.
“We had a strong client base from the existing territory, but I didn’t know just how quickly that would grow,” he said. “The marketing and branding for Lawn Doctor are amazing, and more and more people have been seeking us out.”
Carness says he’s working hard, but the rapid growth of his business is exactly what he wants.
“Any business you start, whether it’s a franchise or something you build yourself, is going to require hard work at the beginning. I knew that going in,” he said. “There is a certain lifestyle I want to achieve in the long run, and Lawn Doctor is providing me a path to get there. I got into this because I want to be a business owner, and the more this thing grows, the more I can step back and focus on high-level operations.”
Carness secured multiple territories upfront and he plans to begin servicing those areas soon. He says the growth his business has experienced is made tenable by the support he’s received from Lawn Doctor, the same support system that drew him to the franchise in the first place.
“For any issue I run into, there are people I can go to for an immediate response,” he said. “I’ve never had to learn anything on my own; there’s always someone who can guide me through the process. I’ve been relying on that a lot in this first year.”
As Carness prepares to break into the additional parts of his expanding market, he says he’s excited to see his business growing so early on.
“Everyone I talked to told me that Lawn Doctor has a strong model, and if you follow it, you’ll find success. That is definitely true,” he said. “The only surprise is just how much business we’ve seen so quickly. I plan on taking full advantage of that.”