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Local Texarkana Couple Brings First Lawn Doctor to the Market

Jeff and Lorie Walling went from Lawn Doctor customers to franchise owners and expect to open for business in January 2024.

By Victoria CampisiStaff Writer
SPONSORED 10:10AM 08/21/23

After being in their respective careers for around 30 years, Jeff and Lorie Walling decided it was time to start pursuing business ownership. After seeking out opportunities for a few years, the couple realized their market didn’t have a Lawn Doctor, which they had been customers of in their previous city. The Wallings signed on to open the Texarkana-Magnolia- Idabel territory, which will span three states: Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. With Jeff’s career in the fire department, and Lorie’s in corporate banking, the pair is excited to combine their skill sets and experiences into their new Lawn Doctor business. Notably, Lawn Doctor is an excellent opportunity for first-responders like Jeff who are looking to pivot into something new. 

1851 Franchise spoke to the Wallings about their franchising journey with Lawn Doctor. 

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

Lorie: Both of us have been in our careers for over 30 years. Jeff is a first responder, and I am in corporate banking. We've raised our family, and we had been looking for a business opportunity for several years, starting back in 2019. We got really close on some businesses, but it just never really worked out. I'm originally from Texarkana, but we had been living in Longview. We were using Lawn Doctor services there as customers, and we were very pleased with their services. When we relocated back here, there really wasn't anything in the area that we live in. It was just kind of that Aha! moment. We've been looking for a business, trying to figure out what we can do. This was an opportunity that just made complete sense. The service is needed in our area, and it fits what we were trying to make happen. Every other opportunity was like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. And this one just makes sense for us. 

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?

Jeff: I didn't have much of one. When I thought of franchising, I thought of McDonald’s and things like that. I didn't even realize Lawn Doctor was a franchise as a customer. 

Lorie: It wasn't something we were considering. Up until this opportunity, all the other businesses that we were looking into were either locally owned or had partners. They were not franchises, but I was familiar with the franchise system and banking. I've had several customers that were franchisees, but it wasn't anything that I had considered for myself. When we were thinking of going into business, we knew we wanted to work for ourselves. For whatever reason, that just was not an area that we were considering until we thought of Lawn Doctor. When we started exploring, the fact that it was a franchise made it even more appealing because of the support and resources that we have.

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

Lorie: For us, it was the opportunity in the area that we're in. This is an untapped market, and this is a service that we've used. We're familiar with the products and the services. And when we were talking with development team at Happinest, we just liked the way that the company was structured. We liked that we were going to have regional support. We like that there is another franchise just an hour and a half from us. We liked that we had the ability to talk to 15 other owners all across the country. It was the feeling of support; we weren't on this island by ourselves. 

Jeff: The other reason that we picked Lawn Doctor is that we knew their product and their service because we were customers. We knew that this was something worth doing.

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

Lorie: We want to make this a family business. Starting out, it is going to be Jeff and I. But one of the reasons why we're doing this is because we want to be able to create opportunities for our children or our grandchildren, if that's something they should want to do. If not, we're looking to be able to offer job opportunities to our local community. In our previous careers, we've been on the hiring end of things, so we know what the job market looks like. We also hear the frustrations from some of our employees that we've worked with, and we want to be able to differentiate ourselves as an employer to be able to offer that safe space where our employees feel like they have the ability to grow. We want to start out managing the territory of ourselves. We do have our eyes on some other territories if that opportunity becomes available. 

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

Lorie: The thing that is most exciting is that this is something we've always wanted to do as a husband and wife. This is our baby. We each have established careers outside of this. Jeff has been able to work his way up through the ranks. He's very esteemed, and he has a pretty impressive career. I, myself, have been able to accomplish pretty much everything in the corporate world that I had set out to accomplish. So we're going to be taking our experiences and our skill sets into this. That's what we're most excited about — being able to see what it is that we're going to be able to do, using 30 years worth of experience in another work world and combining it and putting it into this business. Our skill sets are similar, but they're also different. We're going to be able to divide and conquer. I have 30 years worth of sales and sales management experience behind my belt. Jeff has public service, which means he knows how to give good customer service and puts people first. 

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

Jeff: It can be intimidating, just speaking from experience. Once you get into a certain career, that's kind of all you know. To leave that world and to transition into something else can be pretty intimidating. It's not really easy to pivot and transition. But it's really not as daunting as it seems. It’s actually been really smooth, and we haven't been intimidated at all after our first call with the Lawn Doctor corporate team. There's a ton of people in this organization that are specifically here to help and here to guide you through the process. So, don't be afraid to take a big step and try something different.

Lorie: We really did our research. We were going to keep calling franchisees until someone said something bad or said something negative. We didn't want to just hear that everything is great and wonderful. We were looking for what that challenge was, and we were gonna keep making those calls until we got it. 

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.