After years of working in real estate development and management, Tommy Kilbride decided it was time to build something for himself. “I wanted the pride of being able to put my name on something of my own. I wanted to be able to say to my girls that their dad runs his own business,” says Kilbride.
With three small daughters at home, family was a driving factor for pursuing business ownership. “Having control over my own schedule would allow me to spend more time with my daughters and be more available for them. As they grow, I wanted more flexibility in my business and be able to do things like take them to school in the morning,” explains Kilbride, “When you are in the middle of a development project, it takes up all your time and energy to make sure you meet your deadlines. It took me away from my family. I was looking for a business that could eventually sustain itself, as well as being scalable.”
Kilbride’s real estate development partner, Tait Coates, felt the same way. “We both had a bug for small business and would talk about different ideas on long car rides,” recalls Kilbride. After Coates became a U.S. Lawns franchisee, Kilbride knew the business model was what he was looking for. “Once Tait started talking about U.S. Lawns, I saw how the business checked so many of the boxes we had discussed years earlier. Tait and I both have a similar work mindset and partnering up with him fit what I wanted my next step to be,” Kilbride says.
For Kilbride, the investment cost to become a franchisee was right, saying, “The low barrier of entry appealed to me. It was normal to put up earnest money for that same amount in real estate development. I felt the cost was reasonable, it didn’t feel like a risk, especially when you factor in the brand’s systems and support.”
Speaking of the systems and support, Kilbride says, “While I had experience in the commercial landscape operational side, I didn’t have the structures needed to run the business. U.S. Lawns helped me learn how to do things like quoting jobs and bookkeeping. The systems are simple, and when you follow the program laid out for you, you will be successful.”
He adds, “Being business minded will take you far in this business. Understanding the bottom line and budgets is helpful. The brand’s robust support and training will fill in the gaps. I like to put it this way: experience need not apply when it comes to U.S. Lawns. It takes an entrepreneurial spirit and hustle. Those are two things you can’t teach. The rest you can learn.”
Another asset Kilbride saw in joining U.S. Lawns was being able to leverage the brand’s recognition and reputation. “While I am new to the business, when I talk to potential clients, I have the 30 plus years of expertise behind me to help me get it right. It goes a long way,” says Kilbride.
Since launching his business in February, Kilbride has found satisfaction in building his team, saying,” It is rewarding to be able to provide my team with growth opportunities and a slice of ownership for themselves. I believe strongly in the Richard Branson quote: ‘Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.’ This is ingrained in the U.S. Lawns culture, and it provides a strong foundation for the culture in my own business.”
Kilbride concludes with this, “Starting your own business takes a lot of work upfront, but as my U.S. Lawns business grows it will create more freedom and flexibility in my life. Having a built-in recurring and self-sustaining revenue from a business that I am proud to put my name on is something I am excited to be building.”
To learn more about U.S. Lawns can help you create more freedom and flexibility in your life, click here.