The COVID Crisis has presented challenges to all industries and businesses; none have been left unaffected. According to a recent Forbes Magazine article, one thing this crisis has shown is the resiliency of franchising. Independent businesses were left alone to figure it out on their own, while franchises had the support of a franchisor to help navigate business in this uncharted landscape.
U.S. Lawns is a prime example of a franchisor that steps up and acts as a beacon, guiding and supporting their franchisees through this crisis, helping them continue to build sustainable businesses that improve their communities in a time when it was needed more than ever.
U.S. Lawns entered into the pandemic with an already strong business model. With its 35 years’ experience in the landscape industry, U.S. Lawns had already laid a strong foundation to anchor franchisees during times of uncertainty. A solid operational model, support systems and trainings were already in place. Their network of franchisees was strong, united in the brand values that are central to U.S. Lawns. The brand never waivers from their commitment to 100% satisfaction in both franchisees and customers.
As shutdowns and regulations were put in place nationwide, in 49 states U.S. Lawns was deemed an essential service and continued operations with minimal interruptions. Taking swift action, it provided support and resources to help its franchisees to best serve their customers while at the same time keeping them safe. The brand modified their operational systems to adhere to local and federal guidelines, increasing their communication and information sharing as new information was obtained.
The Power of the Network
Stephen and Elizabeth Carman, U.S. Lawns franchisees in Fort Collins, Colorado, felt particularly fortunate to have the support of U.S. Lawns during this time. “The guidance U.S. Lawns has given us in regard to COVID has been invaluable. As an essential business, we had to quickly make adjustments to our operating procedures. They researched local and federal guidelines and helped us implement all the health and safety measures necessary to keep us running efficiently and, most importantly, safely,” says Stephen, “If we were in business by ourselves, we would have had to wade through all of that alone.”
Jason Cory, U.S. Lawns franchisee in Jacksonville, Florida, agrees, “The response and quick action from U.S. Lawns was great. I was impressed with how well prepared they were to council us and answer our questions during these unprecedented times. They were quick to publish info and materials for our use. It really helped us serve our customers.”
U.S. Lawns also tapped into one of their most valuable resources during this time as well, the power of the network. It hosted weekly conference calls with franchisees to facilitate cross-sharing best practices within the network. Dave Wells, director of brand development says this, “The old cliché of being in business for yourself, but not by yourself is true. You not only have the franchisor’s support team to rely on, you also have dozens of like-minded entrepreneurs facing the same issues you are. At U.S. Lawns we call it the Power of the Network and it has never been more apparent than it has over the last year.”
Both the Stephen Carman and Jason Cory say their businesses have grown significantly in the past years and 2020 was no different in that respect. “The pandemic has not slowed us down,” says Cory.
For many U.S. Lawns franchisees, despite the widespread economic slowdown, their businesses have continued to grow and thrive. The brand’s Item 19 shows that during the peak disruption period of March through December 2020, franchisees saw, on average, a modest increase in gross sales (+0.7%) and a significant increase in both gross profit (+10.8%) and net profit (+12.8%). With responsive support and corporate backing from the brand, franchisees were able to step into their communities and serve their customers in ways independent business were not able.