The Franchise 5: Aaron Samson

Departments - Franchising

Aaron Samson, Lush Lawn

November 1, 2012
Brian Horn

How did you know now was the time to try and sell franchises?
Notionally, the desire to franchise started when I built and sold my first lawn care business. It ignited a desire in me that I want to teach others how to build their own business. I really was not certain how to articulate that desire into an actionable business plan. Now having gone through building a second, far more successful lawn care business with serious brand potential, I know that showing and supporting others to do the same is an initiative my organization is now prepared to undertake.

Our first corporate location has skyrocketed to well over $2 million in revenues in 6 years. The 2nd location has quickly reached $1.6 million in 2 years. Both locations are in SE Michigan and the adverse economic conditions of the market in which we have succeeded are well documented.

We plan on running the Lush Lawn franchise system as an idea culture and while our system serves as a blueprint for new franchisees, our strength will be in our idea sharing and decentralized approach; taking great ideas from the franchisees themselves and implementing them companywide. Our system is an idea culture. We are in the business of encouraging and trading successful ideas and diffusing best practices across system no matter the origin.

What are some obstacles you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?

There have been no real obstacles per se so far. There have been projects within this realm that have required extensive work and will continue to do so as franchising within any business is an “organic” proposition - they way you create value for the end customers and the franchise network and even for individual unit’s changes over time.

One problem (if you can call it a problem) is the lead response that we have realized outside the area targeted for franchise sales. We are now considering an area development strategy for qualified individuals.

What has been positive about this experience?

It, so far remembering we are young at this, has been positive from a self actualization standpoint. Recall from an earlier statement that this dream or vision of helping others do what I have done in this industry started when I sold my first business – I am moving in that direction - that is positive. I also took a thorough review of existing business operations, compiled it, organized it and made improvements on it.

What advice would you have for an entrepreneur who is going to embark on this process?

I would tell them that they need to be completely introspective to begin with. They need to critically self-evaluate primarily in a couple areas. Their ability to deal with critical relationships through positive and challenging times and they have to absolutely care about how the other person can make money.

What are you looking for in a franchise owner?

The most important quality is someone with the aspiration of growing their own business, has a track record of working hard successfully, preferably in a service environment, and has good communication skills.

In terms of a profile, we are looking for someone that is looking to start their own lawn service business that is experienced, perhaps working elsewhere now. We are looking for current business owners that are looking to “transform” their existing business into a more successful one, looking for help reaching the next level.

Returning or ex-military service as they possess a number of developed skills, work ethic, and understanding of the sacrifice required for achievement we consider excellent candidates. Investor types that want to partner with an undercapitalized operator or those looking for a territory development opportunity.

When do you hope to have sold and opened your first franchise?

Our goal is to have 3 units sold by year’s end and it would be neat if we had a territory development relationship for a region underway also. By the end of the year we would like to lay out business plans for those 3 units and get them started on the way to revenue growth, profitability and increased market share in their market.