Q&A with Ken Hutcheson, President of U.S. Lawns
Q&A with Ken Hutcheson, President of U.S. Lawns

Founded in 1986, U.S. Lawns is an Orlando-based provider of commercial grounds care, and services some of the largest retail and service chains in America. The brands success – a combination of national brand strength with a strong network of locally owned franchisees –has allowed the brand to domin.....

Founded in 1986, U.S. Lawns is an Orlando-based provider of commercial grounds care, and services some of the largest retail and service chains in America. The brands success – a combination of national brand strength with a strong network of locally owned franchisees –has allowed the brand to dominate the commercial grounds industry since its inception. Currently, the brand has 267 locations nationwide. President Ken Hutcheson is a hands-on leader who mentors new franchisees, counsels veterans in the network and advises employees on professional success.

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What were your goals for the franchise in 2014?

Over the last five years, we experienced some great company and growth stats. Surprisingly enough, numbers were not our goal for 2014; our goal is to get our franchisees all working together as one army, something that had been in development since mid-2013.

In an effort to inspire our 270 franchises to come together as one unit, we first introduced new innovations at our 2013 annual conference to help our system understand the 25-year-old brand. We presented new Brand DNA to franchise owners so they can understand, articulate and tout our company mission. Also, at this time, we decided to change our company colors to provide a new look and to help shape where we were going as a brand in 2014. The response to this brand update was overwhelmingly positive and well-received by franchisees. It resulted in a renewed passion for U.S. Lawns and instant camaraderie amongst the system.

From a technology perspective, we moved from a high level strategic mission to a tactical mission in 2014. The most significant need was to improve internal and external communication to connect everyone associated with the brand, from franchisees to customers to corporate team members.

What is the status on those goals at the end of Q2? Have goal priorities shifted for the balance of the year?

We speak in minutes, hours, days, and work with a sense of urgency. We are ahead of where we expected to be at this point, not just with tactical planning, but with execution. Excitement is at an all-time high as our growth is on an upswing, system-wide sales are strong and improving, and we’re moving up the list on franchise and business rankings. Later this year, we even expect to release some new products and innovations to bolster many aspects of the franchise system.

What have been the biggest challenges surrounding your brand in 2014?

We need to maintain the momentum we garnered from 2013 and keep all franchisees involved and on the right track. Our regional franchise advisors, who live in different parts of the country, will keep the channels of communication wide open and support our franchisees from all angles. We feel confident and lucky because many of our 270 franchisees have become role models and proactively reach out when others need support to offer their services and guidance.

What have been the biggest successes for the brand in 2014?

Same store sales from have increased 15 percent in 2014 over the year prior, and as a company we’ve improved our sales dramatically from a margin perspective. We have 2,500 employees in the field and more than 1,000 trucks on the road.

What ideas are you looking to develop to grow the brand in 2015?

At the home office, we have instilled a strategy to never be comfortable with where we are at as a company. It’s not that we are never happy, but we just don’t want to be complacent. We have an obligation to our franchisees and customers to be a game changer, and we are constantly generating ideas to satisfy the needs of our units, better service our markets communities and further develop our concept. We ask ourselves how to touch the heart and soul of the people we work with in each U.S. Lawns market and throughout every element of the brand. With every company decision, we want to improve the lives of our franchisees, and ask ourselves if it will help our franchisees be successful. In the coming year, we plan to attend franchise industry events like the Best Ideas and Leadership Summit, introduce new innovations in technology, tools and processes to our current system, and welcome new franchisees who see the value and support with our franchise opportunity.

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