Tru Green: award winning green fingers
Les Graves, owner of TruGreen South Beds, purchased his business in 2010 and works alongside his son, Stephen. In 2014, Les won the Franchisee of the Year award within the ServiceMaster franchise network.
TFM: What appealed to you about owning a mobile-based franchise as opposed perhaps to something office or retail store-based?
LG: The opportunity to be out and about; working outdoors and at a different location each day, was very appealing.
TFM: What did you do prior to taking on this franchise?
LG: I was a factory manager but made redundant and chose to invest in a TruGreen franchise.
TFM: How important is the branding on the vehicle to generating sales, and what comments do you receive?
LG: The branded van is an important tool for sale and brand recognition. We don’t receive many comments per say but we certainly receive a number of sales calls from passers-by.
TFM: What sort of hours do you work and are you able to decide for yourself how much you work? Does it change seasonally?
LG: We work an average of 40 hours a week but this revolves around the seasons. Spring/summer is a key time of the year for lawn treatments, whereas the winter is our key time to plan for the next year.
TFM: What do you think makes your brand stand out from the crowd, in your opinion?
LG: We have a good marketing department and they have worked hard to get the brand right and ensure that each TruGreen franchise adheres to the same guidelines. We offer bespoke, yet professional lawn care services and that is what I feel make TruGreen stand out from the competition.
TFM: What sort of training and ongoing support did/do you receive from the franchisor?
LG: We are constantly updated with information we may need for each season and we have twice yearly seminars and training sessions as a network. The TruGreen brand operations manager, Steve Welch, is an ex-Wembley groundsman and former FA groundsman of the year, so we can rely on his expertise to provide the best service.
TFM: Would it be accurate to say that the kind of work you do is recession-proof/ever-green, in that there is consistent demand for the service throughout the year?
LG: Our work is seasonal but we are prepared for that and the franchise model is designed to manage the demands.
TFM: What are your plans for the future of your franchise business? Would you consider taking on more vehicles for example and taking more of a management role (if you do not do so already)?
LG: Our plans are to grow the business to multiple vans and for myself manage it. We hope to bring in more staff in 2015 and are currently recruiting an apprentice.