The Franchise 5: Jodi Lewis, Lawn Doctor

Departments - Franchising

April 19, 2012
Lee Chilcote

Jodi Lewis recently created a new Lawn Doctor franchise in Edmonton, Okla. with her husband. Her diverse background includes growing up on a farm, a degree in agricultural business, a five-year stint helping to spur community and economic development in rural areas and a few years as a stay-at-home mom. Now that her son is getting older and she is pregnant with a second child, Lewis is excited about the opportunity to get back into the workforce while also making time for her growing family. Franchising is a worthwhile investment that will provide her with a flexible, family-friendly schedule and long-term stability, she says.

Why did you get involved in franchising and how long have you been doing it?
I launched my Lawn Doctor franchise one month ago at the Oklahoma City Home and Garden Show. My husband and I knew that we wanted to own our own business one day. Before doing this, I spent five years doing community and economic development in rural areas across Oklahoma, and then quit my job to have my son, Bauer, and be a stay-at-home mom. Now that he is getting a bit older and my time is starting to free up, I decided to buy a franchise.

My background is actually in agriculture, so this really plays to my expertise. I grew up on a small farm in Northeast Oklahoma, and my dad taught agriculture education at a local public school. I went to Oklahoma State University and graduated with a degree in Agricultural Business.

I really liked the Lawn Doctor franchise model and clicked with the staff there. My husband and I went up to New Jersey where Lawn Doctor is headquartered and asked a lot of questions. The concept of franchises was appealing for me because I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There is a staff of marketing experts, agronomists and horticulturalists.

The support that Lawn Doctor offers to get you up and running made the transition to owning a business so much easier.

What are the advantages of franchising?
Headquarters’ employees are in constant contact with me to make sure I have what I need. They are so invested in getting us started. I’m not a marketing expert – I had one class in college – and the information and expertise that they give us from a marketing standpoint is so helpful. They know how to put together a strong promotional letter, and what it should say to really appeal to people in the Central Oklahoma market.

They also know who is most likely to purchase our services, so they can help me figure out whom to mail it to. They take the guesswork out of it.

If you’ve never owned a business before or if your expertise is in the industry but in business management or accounting, it can be really hard to start up a business. Franchises can help you to learn how to efficiently run your business and to get in front of the right customers.

Why did you decide to transition from being a stay-at-home mom to owning a franchise?
If you were to tell me five years ago that I would own a lawn care business, I would have said, ‘Sure, anything is possible’. The reason I left my last full-time job doing community and economic development in rural counties was that there was a tremendous amount of travel and I wanted to be at home with my son. So when I was ready to go back to work, I knew that I didn’t want to do that again.

The idea of owning a business was enticing. Sure, there’s a lot of risk, but there can be a lot of stability, too. If you work hard and you’re in an industry that’s proven and done well, then you can set your own hours. I don’t want to be away from my son all day. Right now, my husband is mowing lawns on the weekends until we build up enough business to justify hiring a service technician. Hopefully that will be the case within the next 6-8 weeks.

What type of personality is best-suited for being a franchisee?
Type A. And that’s definitely what I am. No doubt, my husband and I are both entrepreneurs. We already own businesses for our rental properties and consulting work. You’ve got to want to work. There’s nobody telling you what to do or when to do it, no boss breathing down your neck. You’ve got to be self-motivated, independent. I think franchise owners are typically tired of doing the 8-5 and want to run a business, but don’t want to figure out every little thing.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a new franchisee and how will you overcome it?
We have goals for our growth this year. I’d love to be up to, say, 250 customers by the end of the year. That may sound like small potatoes to some larger franchises, but I’m a stay-at-home mom just getting started. Hopefully, in our second year, we’ll be able to serve the entire metro area.