Know the ropes

Know the ropes

Features - 2013 Franchise Guide

Even though the franchise world comes with a support system, you’ll still need to follow these tips to get the most out of your opportunity.

July 12, 2013
Brian O'Connell

If you have a thriving landscaping business, franchising is an avenue worth checking out to expand your brand,and make more money.

But before you make the leap, you’ll need to do some homework.

Jeff Sturgis, president of Florida-based Franchise System Advisors, which works with franchise companies nationwide, says there are three key areas that you need to address when it comes to franchising their business:

Legal – “There are strict FTC guidelines as to how a franchisor must document their franchise offering,” Sturgis says. “In addition, various states have additional regulations that must be followed before a company can begin offering franchises in their state.

“In addition to the legal template that must be followed, there are operational and strategic decisions that must be made that have to then be addressed in the franchise disclosure document. That includes how much will the franchise fee cost, how much is payable in royalties and how to determine territory size.”

Focus on operations. You’ll need to have a solid system of training and tracking the performance of your lawn care franchisees. “To successfully franchise your business, someone must have a proven and documented system of operations, an ability to train franchisees on this system and people to help franchisees follow the systems,” Sturgis says.

Know the details. For a development strategy, Sturgis warns there are numerous considerations to mull over. And that means asking yourself some tough questions, and not rolling out your own lawn and landscaping franchise business before you get good answers to them.

“Where will you grow your franchise – local, regional, or national? Who is the ideal buyer for your business? What is the role of the franchisee? What are the key selling points of your franchise opportunity?

“How and where will you market/advertise the opportunity and what is the process you will use to engage and screen people who inquire about your franchise? Only when you have thought about and addressed all of these issues will you be able to successfully franchise your business,” he says.

Set good goals. Richard D. Yelton, a certified public accountant and a practice leader at Windham Brannon, an Atlanta-based tax and accounting firm, says that lawn care franchisers need to establish some achievable goals, as well.

“The decision as to whether or not to become a lawn care franchisor depends upon the goals of expansion,” he says. “If the overall goal of expansion is merely to create a strong local presence, then franchising may not be the right path. However, if the goal is to create a regional or even national network, then the franchising model may work well.”

Make a plan. Once that decision on expansion is made, Yelton says, it’s time to develop a strong business plan. 

“Keep in mind that a business plan for a franchisor looks much different than a business plan for solely an operating company,” Yelton says. “The business plan may also address how the company will transition from an operating company to a franchisor.”

The business plan will also help in determining how quickly a franchiser wants to expand – just not too fast.

“Franchisors that attempt to sell as many franchises as possible, and as quickly as possible, often do not have the long-term success compared to those franchisors that grow at a more manageable rate attracting quality franchisees,” he says.

Find your money. The next major item on the to-do list is to secure sufficient funding. “Often start-up franchisors underestimate the capital needed to embark in franchising,” Yelton says. 

“Capital is needed for brand development, trademarks, professional fees, marketing, regulatory compliance, training, and management personnel.

“Start-up franchisors should consider getting involved with local or national franchise groups and associations that could provide valuable resources and support,” he says.

In the end, you’ll want to convince entrepreneurs that they’ll earn a good return on investment by franchising with you.

Do that, and you’ll get a great head start on growing your business and expanding your brand via franchising.


The author is a freelancer based in Doylestown, Pa.