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Former TruGreen Leader Steps Into Entrepreneurship With Lawn Doctor Franchise

Pat Lix chose to take control of his life through franchise ownership after restructuring at TruGreen. Now, he runs five successful lawn care territories in Texas.

After two decades climbing the ranks at TruGreen, the organization restructured, and Pat Lix found himself looking for his next opportunity. While he explored a few other options in the home services space, he quickly realized that something had to change, and he began looking into franchise ownership. 

In his research, Lix came across Lawn Doctor, the lawn care franchise with 640 locations nationwide. Lix knew the brand had a strong reputation and well-established processes, given its 50-plus years of history. After speaking with the leadership team, he felt confident that Lawn Doctor would provide the support he needed to build a successful business. 

Now in his third year of operations, Lix is on track to achieve the goals originally outlined in his five-year plan, and he continues to grow within his Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas territories.

1851 Franchise spoke with Lix to learn more about his background and journey in franchising.

FEATURE QUESTIONS

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Lix:  In my lifetime, I really only had one real job and that was working for what was probably Lawn Doctor's biggest competitor. I started out as a salesperson there and learned the business. In my time, I performed the operations and production role, I served in a local general management role and ultimately made it to regional manager. The company got a new president, they decided to reorganize, and my position was impacted.

I was in the HVAC industry for about two years before I decided I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I was drained, and I said, “Something’s got to change.”

I just started looking at businesses for sale and I ran across this one here in Fort Worth. That was a Lawn Doctor franchise for sale. I knew the territory and knew that it would be a prosperous territory if I did a few things right, and so far, that's proven itself to be true. 

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Lix: I knew I had a lack of knowledge in some areas. For example, I’m not a mechanic, and I’m not a marketer. 

I didn't know anything about those aspects of the business, and having discussions with people at Lawn Doctor that did it built my confidence to again go the franchise route. I could easily start my own business with the knowledge that I had and figure the rest out, but I didn’t want to figure it out. I didn’t want to go through all of that.

There are some people that dislike the royalties associated with franchising, but they’re worth it for me. We have regional chemical buyers to help us get prices that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to get, and there is so much efficiency and value in the marketing. If I get nothing else from Lawn Doctor, those two alone make me comfortable with what I do pay in royalties.

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Lix: Based on my previous work experience, I knew I wanted to do something with a recurring revenue model, and Lawn Doctor offers that. When I saw Lawn Doctor for sale in Texas, it piqued my interest.

I knew this market, and I knew it was what would be considered an ideal target for this business. That's what prompted the phone call. I ended up talking to Eric [Martin], senior vice president of franchise development at Happinest Brands, and that conversation went so well. It was so transparent, and I was so comfortable, I didn’t even explore anything else.

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Lix: So I put together my three-year plan, and we hit that last year after two. We’ll probably hit my five-year plan this year — my third year. 

I don't really have a customer account goal; I don't really have a truck count goal. I really have a top-line revenue goal. I create everything that I build around whatever it will take. I say, “I want to get to this. What's it gonna take to get there? Is that possible? If it's not possible, what is? And if it is possible, what are the expenditures required to make that happen? Does that pay off?” And that's how I develop my plan and set my goals. 

My planning is pretty extensive and detailed, and it's shared with the people that are responsible for executing the plan in the branch. We backfill all of the pieces to make the plan happen and share the plan. That way, everybody can have some knowledge and has something to rally around. Then, as we achieve specific benchmarks that I placed, I can compensate people for those achievements.

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Lix: I don’t find anything in my journey to be unique. I haven’t done anything outside the realm of Lawn Doctor’s suggested best practices other than hiring my own sales people rather than using the call center. For example, the marketing team creates recommendations. When they recommend something, I do it.

If you get too creative, you’re going to complicate it. Your customers are going to misunderstand what you’re trying to do and create. Complexities create conflict, and that stalls out growth.

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Lix: Don’t be afraid to grow.

Also, I think a lot of people that have worked in traditional jobs think they want to pursue business ownership. They are probably very bright and have a lot of drive. But that drive and ambition can be chewed up on the independent side by all the setup work that you have to do. 

With a franchise, the model’s already figured out. Why go recreate something? Instead, you can come in and invest that time and those skills into work that will progress the business rather than recreating the wheel.

ABOUT LAWN DOCTOR

Since its first franchise in 1967, Lawn Doctor has established itself as a leader in the lawn care services industry through innovative technology, its ability to satisfy the needs of consumers on a national level, and its development and expansion within the industry. Lawn Doctor specializes in treatment and conditioning services, such as fertilization, weed control, seeding, aeration and tree and shrub care. The Lawn Doctor brand has hundreds of locally owned and operated franchises and is the #1 ranked lawn care franchise in the United States.  Lawn Doctor is a 2023 Franchise 500 brand, ranking no. 79 for its financial strength and stability, unit growth and brand power. 

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.

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