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Planting The Seed It's harvest time for new lawn care franchises as program is put into practice.

By Alex Purugganan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Talk about growing from the ground up. NaturaLawn of America, anatural, organic-based lawn-care franchise, has redefined the termwith its Employee Franchise Ownership Program. The incentive plan,implemented 21/2 years ago, offers permanentemployees $2,500 in credit each year toward the purchase of theirown franchises.

The plan allows full-time employees, over an eight-year span, toearn up to $20,000 in credit to use towards financing their ownfranchise. No employee can cash in credits before completing threeyears of full-time work. Existing franchisees, however, can expandtheir own businesses by providing the working funds necessary topartner with employees who aren't able to obtain franchises ontheir own. "An interesting, dynamic cycle tends to takes placeas more and more employees take advantage of [the program] and morefranchisees want to purchase an additional location," saysLoeb.

With more than 50 NaturaLawn of America locations throughout theUnited States and Canada, and franchise owners now looking to addmultiple locations, a growth rate of more than 30 percent isanticipated by the end of the year. Clearly, the potential forgrowth is there, and has already manifested itself in many ways."[The program] allows the employees to attain their goals ofowning a franchise, knowing they have not only the originalfranchisee supporting them, but our home office as well," Loebsays. "It's a win-win situation."

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