Being a locally owned lawn care company, this article will surely seem biased. But we too, before stepping into the lawn care business, have gone through this very same question. Let us explain why.
We had the opportunity of purchasing into a lawn care franchise, or build our own company. There are several factors that steered us away from franchises
1. Franchise prices are more expensive for customers
Franchises require branch owners to pay a monthly royalty of an average 7-10% of all earnings. This means that their prices take this factor into account, and the end price to the customer is obviously more expensive than prices of a “mom n pop” owned business.
2. Payment methods and related hassles
Franchises usually use card in file payment methods that automatically charge you each month. We’ve read reviews of a big franchise in the area which kept charging customers even after they canceled their service. And getting refunded wasn’t easy. We want to avoid this sort of frustration for our customers, and offer several payment options, which you control 100%, at your own pace.
3. Lack of touch with the community
A branch which refers to a headquarter in a different area, or state, isn’t going to be as community-friendly as a locally owned business is. The branch owner might as well be a local, but they are obliged to follow prices, practices and directions coming from elsewhere. We believe that lawn service businesses develop strong and durable relationships with their customers, and must be able to have flexibility and customization in their approach. You will not get this with a franchise. This is the reason why you often see businesses clearly advertising as “locally owned and operated”: because it’s simply better for the customer, and it often shows. Professionalism doesn’t have to equate with “cold national approach”.
4. Branch owner obligations
This is factor is strictly on the owner side of things, and less relevant to the customer. Branch owners are obliged to attend franchise trips at their own expense, and franchise meetings. If you miss them, you are often charged a penalty. We were presented those meetings as “lots of fun”. Our place is within the community, and prefer to put or time, efforts (and money) into servicing our community. Traveling to Mexico to learn about the latest franchise marketing strategy wasn’t appealing to us. We’d rather have extra training for our employees and improve our service, rather learn how to sell ourselves better.
5. Expensive marketing doesn’t mean quality.
Franchises obviously have very powerful marketing teams and big advertising money at a national level. They’ll rank as first result on google, or you’ll always see their ads in your searches, they’ll have powerful advertising lines, and you might feel tricked into thinking they are the best option. This may or not be true of course. But our advise is to always check good and bad reviews for any business. In the end, that’s what matters. While marketing is important, quality and professionalism earns a better word of mouth reputation. We have decided to structure our team so to offer prompt and responsive customer support. We don’t need to have a national call center: we’ll simply be there for you the best way we can. And offer all our jobs are right here in Port Orange.
Whether you’re deciding on a lawn care company or are a start up business owner, we hope our experience, and considerations, were useful to you.
Best of luck with your choice!