Since its inception in 1967, Holmdel, NJ based Lawn Doctor has established itself as a leader in the lawn care industry through innovative technology, its ability to satisfy the needs of consumers on a national level, and its development and expansion within the industry. With over 600 franchise locations across the United States, Lawn Doctor is among the nation’s leading lawn care companies.
In conversation with Aspioneer, Eric Martin, Vice President of Franchise Development at Lawn Doctor, shares how Lawn Doctor became one of the fastest growing franchises.
Aspioneer (A): Can you tell our readers a bit about your brand?
Eric Martin (E): “Lawn Doctor is the nation’s largest lawn care franchise that was built with the goal of bringing superior service and advanced technology to the lawn care industry. We are also a franchise-owner-focused business. We provide best-in-class systems, proprietary equipment, world-class training and support, cutting edge corporate media programs, and an in-house sales center to assist owners with day-to-day sales, giving our franchisees distinct advantages in their respective markets.”
(A): How did it all begin? How has your journey to becoming a known brand been?
(E): “Our journey began in the late ’60s with our founders working out of a hardware store in New Jersey. What started with some products, guidance, and advice to local customers who wanted to care for their lawn, turned into an incredible business known as Auto-Lawn in the local area. They built an incredible delivery system and became known for their ability to diagnose common lawn issues and offer treatment programs. With customers experiencing incredible results, local media began referring to them as Lawn Doctors. The name stuck, the business was renamed, the model was perfected, and we began to franchise. The rest is history.”
"Our culture is all about positivity, collaboration, and fun. Life is too short, so you need to have a team that exudes positive vibes and wants to have fun. The work happens almost organically when you have all the right team members in the right environment."
(A): What has been the reason for the tremendous growth you as a brand have achieved?
(E): “With 78 million baby boomers in the US, coupled with 90 million millennials and dual-income homeowners on the rise, the convenience of professional lawn care is in demand now more than ever before. The grass looks greener with each passing day for Lawn Doctor’s future. We work with both residential and commercial customers, but our target is the residential homeowner. Anywhere there is grass, trees, plants, and pests, Lawn Doctor can thrive. We specialize in treatment and conditioning services such as fertilization, weed control, seeding, and pest management. We don’t cut lawns; we are a lawn spa. The model has been tested and perfected for over 50 years. We are one of only four brands to be ranked in the Entrepreneurs’ Top 500 for 43 straight years. The footprint we have built is a result of our continued innovation in equipment technology, customized products, and quality service delivery. We are nationally known, but locally owned. Our surgical digital and direct mail marketing approach, combined with a local ownership team focus on ground game development, allows for Lawn Doctor to aggressively penetrate a market and stay top of mind with our customers.”
(A): What makes your business model different than the others?
(E): “We are somewhat niche in our space, placing our full focus on the treatment and conditioning side versus lawn mowing and maintenance. We manufacture our own proprietary equipment. I am amazed by how our team turns raw metal into state-of-the-art machines that are an essential part of our models and generate a lot of revenue for our franchisees. The way in which we market to, acquire, and onboard customers is seamless. We’ve built systems that allow our teams to schedule and route customers in minutes, compared to several hours years ago. Everything we do here is about efficiency, without compromising the customer experience or results of our services. We are a science-based company with a model that allows for scale and a higher margin. Franchisee candidates find the recurring revenue, high customer retention, multiple revenue streams, and scalability of our model appealing. Our typical owner isn’t looking at brick-and-mortar-based businesses generally. We don’t need a storefront, which keeps the initial investment and ongoing associated costs down. We can drive leads and generate customers for owners with our marketing programs, so there is no need for cold calling or hard sales, which our type of owner finds attractive.”
(A): It’s a known fact that work culture determines the success or failure of every organization. So, what’s the culture at Lawn Doctor and how does it nurture the business partners?
(E): “Our culture is all about positivity, collaboration, and fun. Life is too short, so you need to have a team that exudes positive vibes and wants to have fun. The work happens almost organically when you have all the right team members in the right environment. I’m biased, of course, but I feel we have some of the brightest and most forward-thinking minds in franchising on this team. That said, no egos are getting in the way. Everyone has a voice, and everyone’s opinion is valued. Our organization is super passionate about the success of our franchise owners. We care about them, and we care about each other. It’s a truly special place.”
(A): What criteria does one need to fulfil to be your franchise partner? Also, can you give us a gist of your training and support?
(E): “We look for an owner who has a long-term vision. We look for great people who want to build a team and are passionate about building a customer-focused recurring revenue business and creating a business that makes a positive impact in the community. We love owners who have comfort in consultative sales and an appreciation for customer service.
We have an incredible support team, and some of the best field coaches I have ever been around. Our RAMP program is designed to pick up right where the initial in-person training stops. Our coaches have weekly coaching calls and do on-site visits with owners every 6–8 weeks to ensure goals are being met and that each owner is on track. We host several regional meetings each year, along with our annual conference.”
(A): So, what is your focus for the future going to be? How do you plan to maintain the lead?
(E): “We are focused on becoming an employer of choice. We have a newer program providing affordable health insurance and benefits that franchise owners can offer their teams. This is a game-changer, and not something franchises typically offer. We are constantly refining our marketing model with the use of BI, as well as growing and improving our in-house sales center. We want to become the absolute best we can be at creating and fulfilling demand in speed to lead the world. We have all been conditioned to instant gratification with Amazon, Uber, and so on. Most small businesses can’t compete with that type of user experience, certainly not in the lawn space. We have created an engine here that gives us, and our owners, the ability to create those wow moments and experiences with customers.”