Nurture your GreenThumb franchise & watch it grow

Up and down the country recommendations are flooding in for GreenThumb franchisees, reveals Rachel Spaul

Judging by the thousands of recommendations GreenThumb receives each year, homeowners are more than happy to share the secret to achieving a lush, weed free lawn and franchisees are reaping the benefits.

A young entrepreneur named Stephen Waring laid the foundations for the GreenThumb franchise in 1986. He invested £64 in 1,000 leaflets, put a bucket of fertilizer in the back of his car and began knocking on people's doors offering to feed and weed lawns. It proved to be a successful formula and today GreenThumb claims to be a leader in the growth of franchising in the country and the largest franchisor in this sector.

Stephen attributes the company's phenomenal growth to a reduction in homeowners' free time and the growing acceptance for outsourcing domestic chores. 'Two years ago we were welcoming one new customer every five minutes,' Stephen reveals. 'Now we welcome one new customer every 60 seconds from thousands of recommendations.

'Homeowners have less free time these days and our service means there is no need for them to spend their precious time buying weed and feed, then applying it and hoping it rains. Once people realise that our service costs less, they're delighted.

'There are 20 million homes in this country and a large percentage of them have lawns. It is our view that there will eventually be five or six million customers wanting a lawn care service and we will have a large share of that.'

GreenThumb franchisees are fully trained to administer a variety of lawn treatments including seasonal lawn feeds; weed/moss control applications; hollow-tine aeration and scarification; and insect and disease identification and control. They are also trained to manage the growth of their business, employ staff to operate additional vans, and are supported by a company that's been providing lawn care services for some 20 years.

'This business sells itself'

Ian and Suzanne Richardson, Blackpool franchisees, (above right) testify to the effectiveness of the service. 'People literally knock on the door of the van or follow us down the street to find out what we do,' says Suzanne. 'This business sells itself because the treatments work and customers recommend us.' Ian and Suzanne started their franchise in February this year and have grown their business from 340 customers to 760, despite the changeable weather, and have customers lining up for winter work.

'We've actually had the worst winter and summer weather we could have expected but the business has still grown, which is a good indicator for the future,' remarks Suzanne.

The couple have been particularly impressed by how helpful other GreenThumb franchisees have been in offering advice. 'It's like having a big family, which was one thing that attracted us to the business,' adds Suzanne. 'This franchise is very much family-orientated and we genuinely feel that they are looking out for us. They've given us as much support as we've needed but don't interfere.' Ian and Suzanne are aiming to grow the business as quickly as possible while maintaining the personal touch. To aid this growth they are aiming to employ their first member of staff early next year.

''The model works'

Jon Harrison, Ashbourne in Derbyshire franchisee, first found out about GreenThumb when his mother-in-law employed the company to treat her own lawn. He was so impressed by the service that he invested in the franchise.

'The training was very useful and had the business up and running straight away,' he recalls. 'After three years trading I have 1,600 customers, which is over five per cent of households with lawns in my territory. By this time next year (year four) I anticipate having around 2,250 customers and a turnover of £300,000 - the business model works.' Jeff Williams, Franchise Director, says the best franchisees are those that follow the system.

'Franchisees must possess proven sales and management skills and have the drive and ability to grow and manage one of the fastest growing franchises in the UK. We expect all our franchisees to grow their businesses to include office support staff, a sales team, customer care staff, and lawn care technicians.

'GreenThumb has established a proven record of successful and ethical franchising with no commercial failures to date. All our franchisees enjoy the benefits that come from operating a successful and lucrative franchise business, and we recommend you speak to all of them to find out for yourself.'