Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim McClure knows the lawn care and landscaping business inside and out. In college, he started a company called LawnSouth, which offered residential and commercial landscape maintenance, lawn applications and Christmas decor. However, after becoming a Weed Man franchisee in 2002, he realized that the franchise had growth potential that his independent business lacked. Here's what he has learned as an independent business owner and a franchisee.
Name: Jim McClure
Franchise owned: Weed Man of Roswell, Ga., servicing all of North Atlanta
How long have you owned a franchise?
I’ve owned the Weed Man franchise since 2002.
I saw Weed Man at several industry trade shows and events and met the sub-franchisor for Georgia. I discussed my interest in opening a franchise to service our existing customer base, and after two years of consideration I decided to expand our services by opening a Weed Man franchise.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
In college I started my own lawn care and landscaping business called LawnSouth, offering residential and commercial landscape maintenance, lawn applications, Christmas decor and lighting. Our landscaping business was doing very well, and my intention originally was to operate both companies together. After seeing the return on investment and growth potential of Weed Man, I decided to sell LawnSouth in 2005.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
What attracted me to Weed Man initially was the quality of people in the organization. The lawn care industry had just gone through numerous mergers and acquisitions with many industry leaders that I had come to respect over the years aligning themselves with Weed Man. The cost structure of the lawn care business was lower and the profit margins were higher and I thought that we could scale the business quicker.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I had the advantage of operating an existing landscape business with much of the fixed cost structure already in place, so that really helped out. I would estimate a cost of around $200,000 to get started including franchise fees, truck, spray equipment and sales room. The most important factor in my opinion, in addition to the upfront costs, is a cash reserve to fund the business while it is being built.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I was familiar with the industry already and had looked at several lawn care franchises before deciding on Weed Man. Ken Heltemes was the Weed Man sub-franchisor for Georgia and North Carolina and worked closely with me during the startup and beyond. His experience and availability as well as the Turf Holdings parent franchise in Canada were instrumental in our training.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
I had to adapt to a new way of thinking that was different from what I had done in my existing business. We had to staff and operate a sales room which was something that I had never done before. That was a big change, but something that we adjusted to quickly.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Study the business model, talk with existing franchisees and most of all make sure that your values align with the franchisor. For the relationship to thrive over the long term you must have the same core values and philosophy as the franchisor.
What’s next for you and your business?
Recently we purchased the rights to expand our Weed Man franchise over the entire North Atlanta area and have opened satellite offices in Kennesaw and Suwanee. We are looking forward to continued growth in the Atlanta market and other in strategic markets that may come available.