Every year, Entrepreneur magazine ranks the top franchises in America across several categories, including the “Franchise 500,” a list that U.S. Lawns has been named to repeatedly. Another coveted ranking is “fastest growing franchises,” which recognizes the highest volume of new franchise growth. This list ranks both large and small companies, national and regional, retail and B2B. In fact, a close look at the businesses on this list reveals an interesting diversity.
Consider this year’s top 5: Subway, 7-11, Mac Tools, Jan-Pro and Dunkin’ Donuts. Two fast food chains, one huge convenience store, a car parts company, and a B2B cleaning service. Some of these have high startup costs, while others do not. Some have incredibly high sales volume, while others are more modest. Yet all of them managed to expand their presence both nationally and internationally.
Since Entrepreneur didn’t go into detail about how these companies achieved their expansion, it’s difficult to draw any conclusions from this data. But one thing seems obvious: any size or type of franchise can reach exponential growth. Including U.S. Lawns.
Let’s take a look at these successful franchises, on both the franchisee and franchisor level, to identify just a few common practices linked with rapid growth. These are observations only, not a set formula, but perhaps they’ll help you begin thinking about how we can all work together to grow U.S. Lawns to the next level.
- Visibility. Obviously, the large companies like Subway and 7-11 have a whopping advertising budget. But what about a B2B company like U.S. Lawns? We aren’t looking for consumer recognition. Advertising would be a waste. Jan-Pro commercial cleaners, the #4 fastest-growing franchise in America for 2014, has a similar situation. We can speculate that if households don’t know the Jan-Pro name, target business clients do. Growing your franchise requires a strong presence among the market sector you’re trying to capture. So, be visible. Form relationships with businesses in your community. The more personal you can be, the more national strength you’ll be building.
- New Franchises. The U.S. Lawns Home Office is constantly recruiting qualified owners to join our team. All of the fastest growing franchises of 2014 showed an impressive increase in franchise locations, and that’s what we aim to accomplish as well. As a current U.S. Lawns owner, you are always welcome to help us by nominating qualified candidates you may know in other cities or states. In addition, you can set a precedent by making your U.S. Lawns the best possible place to work. If our franchisees gain a reputation for being leaders in a fun, fair organization, more people will want to join us. And remember that since all territories are protected, we will never recruit someone to be your competitor, no matter how aggressive we are about growth.
- Niche Business Model. As every business owner knows, growth is largely powered by consumer demand. A business model that’s new, different, or exciting is going to win this contest. Subway has cornered the “healthy fast food” market. Jan-Pro owns the “green” cleaning business for the commercial world. Everyone’s looking for that special “niche” that will help them stand out. So, what is ours at U.S. Lawns? Remember back to the conference. We offer national strength and The Power of the Network, combined with radically personal service. As you’ve heard a million times before: we sell service, not landscaping. And every time you make service a priority, you’re helping our franchise grow.
- It’s Just Easier. The whole point of a franchise, from the consumer’s point of view, is consistency. A product or service can be replicated at any location, with little to no variation. Every 7-11 looks exactly the same, down to the type of coffee sold inside. And that brings up another point: 7-11 is all about making things easy for the customer. In fact, if you look at most successful franchise businesses, they have a service component. 7-11 is a “convenience store” with everything from gas to food for drivers. Subway is not a sit-down restaurant; it offers nutritious meals on the go. It’s important to remember, obvious though it may seem to us, that our clients have chosen U.S. Lawns in the first place as a way to make their lives easier, no matter how many properties they have in how many states. Be sure that your service reflects this–consistently.
- National Presence. This is where Strategic Accounts and the Home Office come in. No matter what, a franchise needs strong national (or even international) presence to reach the top. We try to keep you informed about our strategies and results, because it’s a team effort. But ultimately, a strong national base will support you and the U.S. Lawns name. We’re aware of that in everything we do. One of this year’s fastest-growing franchises, Mac Tools, is relatively small; but it’s leveraged the power of its parent company, Black and Decker, to expand across the United States and Canada. At U.S. Lawns, we have the national backing to grow at the pace we need, but your local ownership will help keep service consistent, easy, and radically personal. This is franchising at its very best.
As you can probably guess, U.S. Lawns is poised and ready for a major growth push. With your help, keeping mindful of all the points above, we hope to become the number one grounds care company in America in the near future. Don’t be surprised to see U.S. Lawns on more lists like Entrepreneur‘s “fastest growing” franchises in the year to come.