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There are 16 million homes in the UK with a garden, so why not take advantage of this huge industry with a gardening franchise?
A gardening franchise isn’t just for green-fingered fanatics. In fact, the sector’s main appeal is that it’s a profitable and stable market, one that has shown significant growth in recent years. The Horticultural Trades Association estimates the industry is currently worth £9 billion and employs 300,000 people.
Research also shows that home and garden leisure has been bolstered by the recession. GreenThumb Franchise Recruitment Manager Mark Hallam says: “GreenThumb has proved very resilient in a catastrophic recession because people want to ensure their homes are looking good to maximise value.”
Plus lawncare is a low cost item in a household’s expenditure, Mark explains: “Most customers spend £25 every 10 weeks – it costs less than if you went to a gardening store and bought the products yourself.”
The gardening sector offers huge potential for growth too. Mark continues: “There are 16 million homes with a garden in the UK. We have had continued success for 26 years and now service 400,000 customers a year. We are still in our infancy and there is massive scope to grow.”
Many franchisees opting for a gardening franchise are looking for a ‘complete change of lifestyle’, as Greensleeves Managing Director David Truby explains: “Franchisees that come to us are looking for a complete change of lifestyle: to get out of the office, get outdoors and get active. It’s a healthy way of earning a living. In fact, all of our franchisees have lost weight and cancelled their gym memberships!”
Gardening is also a year-round business. Mark explains: “In the winter months, we tend to carry out scarification and aeration treatments.”
Paul Shipley, franchise manager of grounds maintenance business Envirocare, agrees: “Our programmes span across the year and we spread our payments across 12 months, so our franchisees have a steady flow of income coming in all year round.”
Garden design franchise, Lime Orchard, is also in demand 12 months of the year. Managing Director Judy Behl says: “Gardens can be planned and designed all year round. It is also important to acknowledge that increasingly we are viewing our gardens as additional living accommodation, not just for the summer months but for year-round usage given the advances in outdoor heating and lighting, etc.”
However, in the colder months of the year, the workload can ease up, allowing for more flexible working or the chance to take a well-earned holiday! Here we’ve uncovered a handful of gardening-based franchises offering everything from lawn care and grass cutting to landscape gardening and grounds maintenance, many of which are either van or home-based – keeping overheads low – and can be operated as a single operator or built into a management opportunity.
Nicenstripy is a home-based garden maintenance franchise. Nicenstripy’s Graham Tinsley says: “The franchise fee is £25,000 and franchisees should have about £10,000 behind them. The business begins at home with limited overheads, but as you grow there will be the financial support to expand to premises as required. Franchisees can be earning a salary of £35,000 plus.”
Graham continues: “Working for yourself means you control how much time you spend on your business, although don’t be surprised if you are putting in 12-hour days to get your business off to the best start.”
Franchisee Andrew Ross, 34, has been running a Nicenstripy franchise in Essex for four years. He says: “I love the outdoors and wanted to start a business that would support me, especially in the early months and years. I love working in my own garden and in particular cutting the lawn. I also understand how to manage a team in an outdoor environment, which I believe is essential to enable the expansion of the business.
Andrew now manages a team of employees. He says: “I have a team on the ground carrying out the majority of the regular work, allowing me to continue to grow the business through managing the office work, speaking to potential customers, quoting and also helping in the field when needed.
“The biggest challenge for me has been finding the right employees. They are the main cogs of my business so finding the right ones has taken some time and a change in my management skills. It has been difficult trusting others to do just as good a job as I would do and understanding that I can’t physically do everything.
“The best part of running my franchise is that it’s my business and when you see the smile on a customer’s face you know that it was you that put it there.”
Lime Orchard is an award-winning garden design and construction company, which promises to transform gardens and outdoor space. Managing director Judy Behl has piloted the franchise over the last 12 months and has recently achieved bfa accreditation. She is now embarking on a recruitment drive. She says: “We are looking to recruit franchisees with proven good sales and project management skills. Lime Orchard is the only garden design and build franchise in the UK. We are a creative, dynamic business, which can be home-based.”
Franchisees should have around £50,000 in total to invest in a Lime Orchard franchise. The franchise fee is £23,000, which includes a comprehensive training package.
Grass cutting, strimming, hedge cutting, pruning, weed control, path and hardstanding maintenance are just some of the services Envirocare offers. The business has been operating since 2005 and is currently in the process of recruiting its first franchisee. What makes Envirocare different from its competitors is that it caters for the commercial and utility market, including hospitals, rental properties, business parks, housing associations and large private estates, rather than householders.
In terms of the ideal franchisee, Franchise Manager Paul Shipley says: “We are looking for someone who enjoys working outside and is energetic and enthusiastic and wants to run their own business with the support of an established business. We do not expect every applicant to tick all the boxes, which is why we provide bespoke training.”
Home-based lawn care franchise Greensleeves is run by franchisees for franchisees. Managing Director David Truby says: “Our unique selling point is that myself and our two owners originally started as franchisees and are still very much hands-on and are in touch with the issues franchisees face. My wife is even a franchisee! We now have 42 franchisees, which proves we have a model that works.”
The ideal Greensleeves franchisee must be looking to grow a business, be able to manage people, motivate a team, and have a passion for customer service and for what they do. David says: “Our franchisees quickly become experts and are able to take a great deal of satisfaction and pride in their work.”
Working hours vary depending on the season. David explains: “In early spring, franchisees can be working all day to fit in all their jobs. It tends to be more relaxed in the summer and working hours are usually 9am until 4pm. In the winter, we carry out scarification and aeration treatments, but you might only need to work from 10am until 2pm.”
The earning potential varies, as David says: “The more you put in the more you get out. To give an approximate guide, franchisees in year one can expect to earn £20,000 to £30,000, increasing by £10,000 to 15,000 per year.”