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Lessons on Becoming a Hall of Fame Franchise

Robin Smith learned about U.S. Lawns when his friend William Attwell purchased a franchise in the early 2000’s. At first, he didn’t think much of the idea.

“I told him he was crazy,” Robin says.

But after seeing William’s franchise rack up more sales in a year than the Smiths’ landscaping business had in seven, Robin decided his friend was onto something. Together with his wife Donna, he purchased U.S. Lawns of Asheville, N.C., in 2004. And this year, Robin and Donna Smith joined our top franchisees of all time in the U.S. Lawns Hall of Fame.

If you were at the Annual Conference in Texas, you probably remember Robin and Donna’s induction as one of the highlights of the week. Membership in the Hall of Fame is a tremendous honor, and one that makes everyone a bit emotional. If ever you’ve watched an induction and thought, “I wonder if that can be me someday,” Robin and Donna Smith would say yes.

Here’s what you can learn from Robin and Donna’s story, to reach that highest level of success for your franchise—and maybe even join them in the Hall of Fame.

  • Getting on model is no joke. One thing Robin and Donna did right was waste no time becoming on-model franchisees. This turned out to be more crucial than anyone realized. A few years into their time at U.S. Lawns, Robin suffered a serious injury and Donna had to run the business alone while raising their family and tending to his medical care. That would have been much harder if they hadn’t started out on track.
  • Depend on the power of the network. When Robin was injured, Donna was able to count on her fellow franchise owners for support. This is the true advantage of being part of a nationwide network like U.S. Lawns. “Everybody just really backed us—they were there for us. There’s no way I can pay them back for what they’ve done,” Donna acknowledges.
  • Hire the right people. Robin and Donna’s story illustrates that even through setbacks, you can still achieve your goals. According to Robin, the lessons of recruiting proved invaluable. “We feel like we achieved the level of success we wanted this year when we finally hired two good managers,” he says. “Building our team is a work in progress for us.” He and Donna have found success by striving to be the Best Place to Work. “We always try to treat our employees like family,” Robin says.
  • Believe in yourself and your work. Passion is something these Hall of Famers have no shortage of, and it’s served them in good times and bad. Donna knows exactly why she goes to work in the morning: “It’s not the money, it’s not the business—it’s my family.” And for the Smiths, “family” includes their fellow U.S. Lawns owners and their community. Robin says he takes “radical personalization” very seriously, and promises his customers “loyalty, trust, communication…and doing what we say we are going to do.”
  • Use systems and processes. Robin points to the U.S. Lawns operational systems as the #1 factor in his team’s success. “Believe in and follow the support that’s given and the advice that’s given, whether it’s from the Home Office or the other owners,” he counsels aspiring Hall of Fame members. And if you don’t know everything today, don’t worry. “We’ve got the support and help of people who can help answer those questions,” Robin concludes. “That’s the beauty of being part of a franchise.”

Congratulations to Robin and Donna Smith of Asheville, N.C., our 2015 inductees into the U.S. Lawns Hall of Fame. We know all of us can learn something from their journey. Thanks for your lessons on becoming a Hall of Fame Franchise.

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