Kris Polmanteer’s Lawn Doctor has grown from a one-woman operation to a full team of qualified professionals, allowing her to focus on her strengths
When Kris Polmanteer purchased her first Lawn Doctor territory in Magnolia, Texas, she was still working as an office manager for a landscaping company and did not have a partner, let alone a staff, to support the new venture. Today, Polmanteer is managing the business full-time along with five staff members, and the business has expanded to three territories.
According to Polmanteer, the most difficult part of that growth was learning to cede control over some aspects of the business.
“I had to learn that I was stifling our potential by trying to do everything myself,” Polmanteer said. “Now I’ve got people in the field who are doing great work on their own, and I can focus on the work that I’m great at.”
The work that Polmanteer is great at is business management, or as she puts it, “working on the business rather than in it.” Though Polmanteer had long worked in the landscaping industry before joining Lawn Doctor, her skillset has always placed her in office management.
A mother of three, Polmanteer was a stay-at-home mom until her youngest child was in school, at which point she found part-time work at a landscaping company in Michigan. Polmanteer stayed with that company for seven years until 2012, when her family moved to Texas for her husband’s work.
Polmanteer found office-management work at another landscaping company in Texas, but as that job started to look more and more like a career, Polmanteer started to feel frustrated with its limitations.
“I didn’t like the idea that my income was capped,” Polmanteer said. “I wanted to find something that I could own myself.”
The allure of owning her own business inspired Polmanteer to consider franchising. So, she sought out a franchise broker, who recommended some franchise concepts that fit her experience. One of those concepts was Lawn Doctor, which immediately stuck.
“It looked like a perfect fit,” Polmanteer said. “I understood the business components immediately, I was just going to have to learn the horticultural bit, and they had a streamlined system to help me do that.”
Polmanteer was eager to jump in. She got in touch with Lawn Doctor’s development team, and they began walking her through the startup process and the basics of lawn care. Once she was approved and secured her territory, Polmanteer got to work servicing clients, but she kept her office-management job for her first four months as a Lawn Doctor owner.
“I expected there to be a bit of a wait before I got enough clients to do Lawn Doctor full-time, but we got up and running so fast,” Polmanteer said. “I quit my old job after four months so I could be out in the field with Lawn Doctor as much as possible.”
According to Polmanteer, the field work is an essential component of learning the business.
“Lawn Doctor has an incredible array of learning resources for new owners. I spent a lot of time online using their learning tools and talking to other Lawn Doctor owners and vendors, but nothing matched being out in the field and learning on my feet. I was learning new things so quickly.”
Even after five years with Lawn Doctor, Polmanteer said she’s still learning about the business.
“I still run into new issues that customers are concerned with, and I’m always confident to tell them we can handle it, even if it’s brand new to me. With the resources and support Lawn Doctor provides, I know there isn’t an issue we can’t handle. I just have to get in touch with my corporate office or with another owner who has seen the issue before.”
Two years ago, after Polmanteer’s Lawn Doctor business hit a growth spurt and expanded into a second territory, her husband joined the business full-time, working in a utility role managing operations and helping out in the field.
“Before Lawn Doctor, my husband was a land surveyor, so the business was not totally foreign to him, and he became essential as we were growing the business,” Polmanteer said. “When he joined Lawn Doctor, that was the moment that really changed our quality of life for the better. He didn’t have to get up early in the morning and drive to work and report to a boss anymore. We were both in it together, working for ourselves.”
Though the extra help from her husband was an immediate boon to productivity, Polmanteer was still reluctant to hire staff to work in the field. She was concerned that if she wasn’t doing the work herself, she couldn’t be confident that it was being done right.
Eventually, Polmanteer was encouraged by her business coach to hire help.
“My coach really changed my thinking about the business,” said Polmanteer. “He showed me that I can be more effective by focusing on the higher-level operations and that it’s possible to maintain the integrity of our service by hiring qualified staff."
Polmanteer began to hire a full staff, finding an operations manager to take over the bulk of her husband’s responsibilities so that he could become a full-time sales manager. The organizational changes allowed Polmanteer to take on more customers, and she recently finalized the paperwork to take on her third territory.
Now Polmanteer is beginning to adjust to the new organization, which has allowed her to take a step back from the day-to-day operations.
“It’s really changed everything to have a full staff. Not only can I focus on business management, which has always been my strong suit, I can take a three-week vacation and the business stays up and running without missing a step.”
According to Polmanteer, the reward she’s reaping now is available to any Lawn Doctor manager who puts the work in and follows the system.
“I tell new franchisees it’s not a get-rich-quick-scheme; it takes work, but it’s all set up for you. If you apply the model, there’s a big reward. For me, the benefits were immediately apparent and they just kept coming. We grew quickly, my husband was able to join us, and most recently, I’ve been able to take a step back and focus exclusively on the things I’m best at. It just keeps getting better.”