Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Ferguson got into the lawn business young. While in high school, he worked at a local nursery, and after college, started a business mowing neighborhood lawns and working out of his garage. Years and years later, he decided that he didn't need to "reinvent the wheel" to break into the commercial lawn market. So, in 2002, he purchased a U.S. Lawns franchise.
In his first year as a franchise owner, Steve’s billings totaled $2,500. Since then, he’s grown his business to over $1 million in annual billings, and he credits his success to following a simple mission statement: "Try to be better today than yesterday." Here's what he's learned.
Name: Steve & Teana Ferguson
Franchise owned: Hampton Roads, Virginia
How long have you owned a franchise?
Since Nov. 2002
We were looking to break into the commercial market and we investigated many options and we said, "Why reinvent the wheel?"
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I also work as firefighter/paramedic for a local city. Teana was a government contractor. We had a small residential landscape service.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
U.S. Lawns invited us to their annual conference prior to us being a part of the family. We saw then the benefits of U.S. Lawns and being a part of something bigger than ourselves
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Interesting question. Since we had an existing business we already had equipment, trucks and trailers. We bought into the franchise for $28,000, paid over five years
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
We researched several different companies on the internet, made several phone calls and meet with a couple other possibilities.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Going from a small company with a few employees to a U.S. Lawns franchise location, quality labor had always been our No. 1 challenge. Other challenges have been being an unknown in the industry locally and having to build a reputation.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Pray on what is God’s plan for you. Do has much research as you can, ask a lot of questions. Talk to other people that are in the network.
What’s next for you and your business?
To continue to grow our business. Be a responsible business owner, employer, and a community advocate. I plan to retire from the fire department within two years and spend time with our family, travel, and play some golf.