The Carruth family’s roots run deep in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Jamie, a retired elementary school principal spent 31 years with the public education system. Her son, Alex worked with a local irrigation and landscape company. Today the mother and son team own a successful U.S. Lawns franchise and are continuing their family’s tradition of improving their community.
It all began with a conversation between Alex and an acquaintance of Ken Beasley, U.S. Lawns franchisee in Natchez, Mississippi. While discussing this opportunity with his mom, Jamie pulled up the website on the computer and the two began to consider the brand’s offering. The more they learned, the more they began to feel this was the right opportunity for them to go into business with each other.
It was U.S. Lawns proven processes and systems that particularly appealed to Jamie. “Coming from the structured background of public education, I enjoyed knowing the groundwork was already laid. There is not a question as to how to do things,” explains Jamie, “There isn’t a question or problem they haven’t already came up with an answer or program for. They have thought everything through and everything they do is for the benefit of the franchisees. They provide a roadmap for success.”
Feeling the brand was a good fit, the pair signed their U.S. Lawns Franchise Agreement in August of 2016. At the time Alex was just 22 years old, relatively young to be a business owner by most industry standards. “I had no business background, just labor experience when we first started out. Today, I have a better understanding of what I am doing businesswise. U.S. Lawns provided the tools I needed to learn and grow. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t do it any other way,” says Alex.
New to business, as the Carruths first started out, they found themselves up against a learning curve. The U.S. Lawns support proved to be helpful in growing their business. The Direct Sales Dial-Up program, in particular, really helped them ramp up. “The team helped us a lot by getting us in the door with prospective clients. Our first contracts were through appointments set up by the team. As our business grew, so did our referrals. Now most of our new business comes through word of mouth and Google rankings. Today, the phones are ringing with business coming to us,” says Jamie.
One of the reasons the Carruths have enjoyed continued success in their business is their commitment to U.S. Lawns’ mission of creating a best place to work culture. Jamie says, “It is so important to find the right employees and keep them around. When you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers and this leads to more referrals.”
Alex adds, “Some of the way we tried to create a desirable work culture is through well maintained equipment, finding ways to say thank you, and having get-togethers like family BBQs. We’ve got a great team and it has been a key to us growing at the rate we have.”
Over the past four years, the Carruths have consistently added one truck a year. This year they are likely to add two more trucks. This is a remarkable growth rate, especially considering the recent global pandemic and subsequent economic slowdown.
“Even with the certain market verticals affected and ancillary services down because of COVID, we have seen our base business grow. We have even had clients undertake some enhancement projects during this time, so it’s safe to say we haven’t really felt the effect of the downturn,” says Alex.
“Being locally owned, family owned, and lifelong residents of Baton Rouge has helped us build strong relationships with our community, but at the same time we are able to leverage the support and resources of a large well known brand. With U.S. Lawns, we get to be in business for ourselves, but not by ourselves,” explains Jamie, “Running a business can be lonely sometimes, so having that interaction with the U.S. Lawns team and being able to pick up the phone and call them with a problem has been incredibly advantageous to us.”
Brand recognition and the power of the U.S. Lawns network are just a couple of the advantages that come with being a part of such an established brand. “Some of our large contracts have been referrals from other U.S. Lawns Franchisees. For example, we now service the 25 Taco Bells in our area because they were happy with the job U.S. Lawns did in New Orleans and Alexandria. And we service three apartment complexes because the property management company was happy with the service they were getting from the U.S. Lawns franchisee in Shreveport. We are in this together and that gives us a competitive advantage over businesses that are independently owned,” says Alex.
The Carruths have been recognized by the U.S. Lawns Home Office for their exceptional ability to grow their business while embracing the U.S. Lawns Brand DNA and they continue to rank high in revenue growth. Just four years in, they have already built a sustainable business with unlimited potential while improving their hometown of Baton Rouge in ways they can see.
When asked if they had any advice for those who are in the same position they were in four years ago, just starting out in business, Alex has this actionable piece of advice, “ We found understanding man hours, keeping in budget and staying on track with the master services calendar helped us break even faster and U.S. Lawns provides resources for all of these. Just stick to the system and everything else falls into place.”