Building a Foundation
Travis Alexander is no stranger to hard work. After uprooting his life in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Alexander started over in Tennessee. Over time, and with much work and determination, he became indispensable in his role as general manager with a large power sports dealership in the Memphis area.
However, it was clear his growth was limited in his current position. “I was running somebody else’s business, it was never going to be mine. There was nowhere to advance. I had maybe another ten years with that company, but there was a strong desire to build something that was my own,” Alexander says.
So, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work building a residential landscaping business on the side. Some weeks, Alexander would put in more than 75 hours a week between his job and mowing lawns. His wife, Amy, wanting to spend more time with her husband, realized the best way to do that was to hop on the truck and work alongside him.
“Our landscaping business got to point where we would turn down work because we just couldn’t fit it into the schedule. We only lost a client if they moved away. Many of our customers had been with us four or five years.”
At A Crossroads
Being a driven entrepreneur and wanting to take the business to the next level, Alexander felt at a crossroads. He could not grow the landscaping business any further because of his commitments to his day job and he needed to decide between the two.
There were two hurdles Alexander had to overcome about going into business for himself. “We really had to evaluate whether we were financially ready to do this. Leaving my crew at the motorsports company also made the decision difficult,” he says.
Ultimately, the Alexanders decided it was time to invest in their future, rather than continuing to build wealth for someone else. “We had the money set aside. Amy is a CPA and has a good job, which takes care of us financially and provides health insurance coverage. I could make a clean exit from the power sports company, which was important to me. Even my friends were encouraging me, so I made the jump.”
To elevate the landscaping business, the Alexanders realized they were limited by servicing residential properties. “We could only handle a set amount of residential properties per week, but with commercial we don’t need to service as many customers to generate the same amount of revenue. Simple math showed us that the profit margin would be a lot higher if we switched to commercial.”
The U.S. Lawns Plan
Alexander turned to U.S. Lawns to help them scale. “I’d heard about this company for years. I had spoken to franchisees that had been with the company for a long time and were very happy. After looking into their history, I saw they have been around since 1986 and are still growing. They have proven they can stand the test of time.”
Teaming up with U.S. Lawns, a leader in commercial grounds care, made sense to Alexander. He says, “They have the tools and resources to help us be successful. The details have already been figured out. My role will be to market myself, do good work, and follow the system they have put in place.”
Today, the Alexanders use their personal strengths to ensure success. Amy handles all of the “rocket science” as Travis calls it; accounting, reporting and human resources; while Travis manages sales, operations, and equipment to ensure an efficient operation.
No Longer Going It Alone
He continues, “The support we have received has been invaluable. I talk with my sales coach, Paul Wania, and the other members of the development team multiple times a week. They are always available to answer any questions we have. We have been able to avoid many of the mistakes we would have made if we had gone at this alone, and mistakes cost money.”
Beyond the comprehensive support they receive from the brand, Alexander finds the network of other U.S. Lawns franchisees to be a resource as well, particularly Drew Eaton who launched in the Memphis market around the same. He says, “Being able to share ideas and learn from the experiences of others has been invaluable. The team culture here is unlike any I have experienced before.”
When asked about how he feels about his decision to invest in U.S. Lawns, Alexander concludes, “I think to be a successful franchisee, you have to put in the work; follow the system; and have a willingness to learn. I have a passion for this work and for being a good leader for my crew. Amy and I feel we made the right decision investing in U.S. Lawns.”
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