In 1966, the first Lawn Doctor operation—then called Auto Lawn—opened in New Jersey. One year later, the concept had already turned to franchising and rebranded as Lawn Doctor. In the 50 years since, Lawn Doctor has continued to grow and refine their operations, expanding to over 500 locations across the country and cementing their brand as one of the most recognized and respected in lawn care.
One reason for Lawn Doctor’s longevity is their operational model, which offers a number of unique benefits to franchisees.
“The entire system has been fine-tuned to improve our services while increasing margins for our franchisees,” said Eric Martin, Lawn Doctor’s vice president of franchise development. “Our menu of services is diverse and customizable and our equipment is agile, so we can easily service customers with a vast range of lawn-care needs, opening up a slate of recurring revenue streams for owners.”
One of Lawn Doctor’s primary operational benefits for franchisees is their on-site-visitation model. Because all services are provided on-site at customers’ homes, Lawn Doctor owners are not required to open brick-and-mortar stores, allowing them to work from home and avoid the costs of leasing, building, and maintaining a physical location.
“Because we’re operationally very light, we’ve been able to keep the investment costs very low for franchisees, even as our brand becomes more and more valuable,” said Martin. “Even as our franchisees grow, their overhead remains minimal. A successful Lawn Doctor operation requires very few employees compared to other businesses, so the ongoing operational costs are low.”
Lawn Doctor owners are also drawn to the work itself, which allows technicians to work outdoors with state-of-the-art equipment that all but eliminates the manual labor required. So many franchise owners have left the corporate world seeking business ownership as a means of taking back control of their professional lives, and for those entrepreneurs, Lawn Doctor’s outdoor and seasonal services offer the perfect solution.
Dave Satcher, a Lawn Doctor franchisee in Cincinnati, said that his interest in Lawn Doctor was born out of a half-serious fantasy of working outside, for himself, full-time.
“My friend was telling me about how well his lawn-care business was doing, and I told him, half-joking, how much I’d love to just hang around lawns all day,” Satcher said. "When I got home, I started to really think about it, and it seemed like something I could make work for myself.”
Satcher signed on with Lawn Doctor in 2012, and five years later, he’s still growing with the brand.
“Lawn Doctor has a growth strategy built into the operations, so it’s not hard, you just have to follow the model,” Satcher said. “If you follow their advice, invest in the marketing that they recommend, and don’t fight the system, then your business will grow. It’s as simple as that.”
Another Cincinnati-area franchise, Chris Faller, said Lawn Doctor’s proprietary equipment makes the work easy for technicians of any level of experience with lawn care.
“That’s where I fell in love with Lawn Doctor. I’d heard about all this proprietary equipment, and I assumed they had good but fairly standard equipment with their branding on it. I was wrong. I was amazed by the machinery they had. I still am. The equipment is so simple to use and so effective. All you have to do is teach a technician how to steer, and the machines do the rest.”
Faller believes the equipment will allow him to continue personally servicing customers into old age.
“I fully envision myself running this business through my 70s. It’s not just a young person’s game, though it is nice to have that energy around. I’ve seeded grass for years, either for farming or in my own yards, so I knew the work involved before I found Lawn Doctor. I just never imagined how easily and effectively it could be done with the right equipment, not to mention the training, marketing, and support programs Lawn Doctor provides. Even after four years in business, I’m still blown away by what we can do.”
Franchisee satisfaction has been an explicit component of Lawn Doctor’s growth strategy. Lawn Doctor CEO Scott Frith said that the corporate team is focused on making operational improvements that are designed to grow the franchise organically by attracting and retaining franchisees.
“We are focused on growing Lawn Doctor by making it one of the best businesses to own,” Frith said. “We don’t want to just find new owners in every market, we want prospects to see how happy and successful our owners are and ask us to get on board.”
That strategy has proven successful for Lawn Doctor, which has seen consistent growth throughout their 50 years. As the brand looks forward to 2018, Frith says the brand will continue to find new ways to maintain and capitalize on its dominance in the industry.
“The industry has changed dramatically since Lawn Doctor came on the scene in 1967. As a market leader, we are constantly innovating to remain relevant, competitive, and prosperous in the years ahead.”