With more than 560 territories across 40 states, lawn care franchise Lawn Doctor’s model has proven lucrative in virtually any climate that accommodates grass for even part of the year. In regions with long winters, Lawn Doctor owners focus on sales and marketing during the cold months to service customers eager to repair and show off their lawns come spring and summer. In areas of the country that are warm year-round, owners focus on applications throughout the entire year, allowing referrals from consistent work to account for the bulk of their marketing.
One element that remains the same for Lawn Doctor owners regardless of their market is that spring and summer tend to be busy seasons and a good time for a new owner to build up a strong customer base. Still, many owners opt to sign up and begin training in the late summer months in preparation to launch their business in the fall.
Lawn Doctor offers an extensive and in-depth training program for all new owners that coincide with both pre-spring and pre-fall openings. This allows entrepreneurs with little to no experience in agronomy, regardless of what time of year it may be, to begin building an efficient and profitable operation. According to the franchise’s vice president of franchise development, Eric Martin, there’s still no substitute for learning on the job.
“Our training program is very detailed and robust, and the best way to make the most of that training is by putting it to work right away,” said Martin. “Many prospects assume starting in the spring is the only time it makes sense, but that’s not ideal for everyone. By starting in the fall, new owners can roll out of training and learn on the job without the added stress of phones ringing off the hook and online inquiries pouring in the moment they leave class. We offer an array of fall applications, seeding services and an aeration program that gets a new owner plenty busy, but as importantly, it provides a perfect runway into the following spring. By putting their knowledge to work right away, executing on our systems and processes, all while allowing the digital presence and website optimization to take shape without the mad rush of spring breathing down their neck is welcomed by many.”
Allen Clark, a Lawn Doctor owner in Chattanooga, Tennessee, signed on with the brand in the spring of 2015 and opened later that summer. He says that despite his lack of experience in the industry, he entered the business well-prepared to handle the substantial volume he’d grow before the end of the year.
“We signed on in April, went through training in June, and serviced our first customers in July,” he said. “We started the business fresh, with zero customers, and we ended up servicing nearly 100 properties by the fall. I didn’t know much about this business before I started. I’d worked on my own yard a bit, but that’s it. The training program took about two weeks and it taught us everything, not just how to service lawns but also marketing and how to work with the customers.”
New Lawn Doctor owners starting in any season are not thrust into the business without a wealth of support systems to help them as they take on new business. Martin knows that no matter how comprehensive the training, owners are bound to run into unique issues, and Lawn Doctor’s support team is designed to help owners tackle any and every issue as they come.
“As detailed as the training is, it simply can’t account for every conceivable issue a customer may have with their lawn, which is why we work closely with all of our owners providing site visits and on the job training during their first two years of business and well beyond,” he said. “In fact, part of the training is just letting owners know the support options that are readily available to them.”
Clark says one of the most important support systems for his operation offered by Lawn Doctor’s corporate team was and remains his franchise advisor, whom he still works with regularly.
“We were set up with our regional business coach from headquarters when we started, and he’s been great,” Clark said. “He knows everything, and he’s always a phone call away. We met with him just last week in fact, and he still helps us make sure we’re running every part of our business the best way possible. The support and guidance the corporate team provides is critical and it has been key to our growth and success.”
Of course, Lawn Doctor’s training and support programs are available to all owners regardless of when they sign on with the brand, and Martin says owners can get up and running successfully at virtually any time of year.
“We have folks starting with Lawn Doctor throughout the entire year in all different regions,” Martin said. “Our owners come to us with a variety of backgrounds and for all sorts of reasons, so the timing is different for everyone. Regardless of when the business goes live, every new owner will experience a spring, summer and fall season in their first full year, it’s just a matter of what order it will be. Entrepreneurs seek us out because they want a recurring revenue model that they can grow into a large, thriving business, and naturally they want to do that as quickly as possible. For some, especially for a first-time business owner, launching in the late summer or fall gives them the chance to ease into their operation, breathe a little, build brand recognition and get comfortable before things really heat up come spring.”