|Boyd Loveless says operating a franchise charted a path for his family.|
Boyd Loveless has owned a Nutri-Lawn franchise in St. John’s, Newfoundland for nearly six years. The responsiveness of the company, the mentorship that it offers its franchisees and its emphasis on community involvement are a few of the things that attracted Loveless in the first place. Now, after enjoying steady growth since he started the company, Loveless has no regrets and would recommend franchising to anyone that does their homework, is a go-getter and is prepared to listen and learn.
I had been managing a Nutri-Lawn operation in Jamestown, Newfoundland for 4-5 years when I approached the owner about buying him out. I saw that Nutri-Lawn had a good name and was well-established in the local community and across Canada, and I saw an opportunity to chart a path for myself and my family by owning my own business.
There aren’t a whole lot of support mechanisms for someone starting a lawn care company on their own, and Nutri-Lawn provided me with all of the support I needed. There was never a minute when I couldn’t pick up the phone or drop an email to someone at corporate office and get a reply. They always had a listening ear.
I have been with Nutri-Lawn going on six years. Growth has been very steady; we’ve probably grown about 15-20 percent per year on average over that six year period.
I’d have to attribute a lot of my success to the Nutri-Lawn brand brought out five years ago. The uniforms, brochures and vehicles look very sharp. Obviously, I had to buy into it and re-do my vehicles. Yet people say to me, ‘I see your vehicles around all the time.’
Our customers see Nutri-Lawn as an ecology-friendly lawn care company that provides different options to them. We’re seen as innovators in the local market. We’re ahead of our competitors, researching products and trying different products on a regular basis. They see that we’re involved in the local community, giving back to churches, local sports teams and senior groups. They see that we’re not only a lawn care company, but a company with values. We believe in what we preach and we practice what we preach, and we’re about more than just a healthy lawn at the end of the day.
2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of franchising?
The biggest advantage with Nutri-Lawn is the family atmosphere. You can always go to the corporate office if you have questions or need advice. You can also pick up the phone to call a fellow franchisee in Halifax. They’ve been through it and can assist you with your problems. If you’re thinking about trying out a new idea, they may have tried it and can tell you the pros and cons and what you should and shouldn’t do.
Honestly, at this point, I don’t see any disadvantages. A lot of people ask about the franchise fee, and when I first got involved, I thought of it as a hefty franchise fee that I had to pay every year. Yet I don’t think of it as an expense anymore, but as an investment. In our industry, we’ve seen a lot of changes due to pesticide bans, changes in the lawn care products available to us and changes in the software products available to make our business run better. With support from our corporate office, we’re getting products that have been tried and tested and should work in our neck of the woods. The software program alone saves us thousands of dollars every year. It helps us to run more efficiently, and the key thing is they’ve tested it ahead of time.
3. What advice would you have for someone who is thinking about buying a franchise?
My advice would be, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Talk to the corporate people and the franchisees. Do a bit of mystery shopping as a customer, too, and see what they’re all about. Sit down with them face to face and get a feel for what they’re going through.
I would also suggest looking at the company’s efforts in the community. I think that it says a lot about the values of the franchisers if they’re heavily involved in the community through sponsorships, donations or other forms of giving back.
4. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started franchising?
Be less hesitant at the beginning. Corporate franchisers are there to help you. Don’t put up a wall between yourself and them or hesitate to receive what they have to give you.
5. What type of personality is best-suited for being a franchisee?
Anybody can be a franchisee if you have the financial backing. You’ve got to be a go- getter, energetic and self-motivated. You have to believe in what the franchiser is preaching and marketing, and you have to be open-minded and willing to learn.