Break out of the Box with Bolt-On Business: Franchise and Dealership Opportunities That Are Helping Landscape and Irrigation Companies Grow

By Kmitta, John | Landscape & Irrigation, May-June 2011 | Go to article overview

Break out of the Box with Bolt-On Business: Franchise and Dealership Opportunities That Are Helping Landscape and Irrigation Companies Grow


Kmitta, John, Landscape & Irrigation


Thinking outside the box; that is what a lot of business owners in the landscape and irrigation industries are doing as they look to capitalize on their current client database, while also appealing to a whole, new group of potential customers. For many, that means expanding beyond their traditional offerings to provide their clients additional products and services. As a result, franchise and dealership opportunities are presenting landscape and irrigation professionals with bolt-on business potential based on established business models. A few of the franchise and dealership opportunities that are gaining ground in the landscape and irrigation markets are as follows:

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We Do Lines

In 2008, Chris Couri, Tom Darrow and Dan Rella were sitting around trying to come up with a new idea. Each had a landscape and irrigation businesses, a lot of commercial accounts and contacts, and wanted to do something together. Darrow suggested parking lot line striping.

"It was one of those off-the-radar items," said Couri, president, CEO and co-founder of We Do Lines. "Embracing the entrepreneurial spirit, we bought a machine, learned how to stripe, and started plugging it into our existing business. We were already in the parking lots, plowing and sweeping; this was just another service."

We Do Lines created a website, commanded a big online presence, and ended up getting inquiries from across the United States in its first year.

"We would do our day jobs in landscape and irrigation, and then take a break, wait until it got dark and places closed, and then go back out at night and stripe lines," said Couri. "We did that part time the first full year, and ended up doing well and making money. As such, we said it could be done on a full-time basis. We felt we had something really special."

By their second year of line striping, the owners of We Do Lines felt that they could look at the business model as something that could be franchised.

"I had taken franchising in college, and one of my professors was one of the people who started Jiffy Lube," said Couri. "That was something that had always resonated in the back of my mind as an interesting model. So we met with some consultants, and they said it sounded like we had an interesting concept--business in a box, in the service industry, demand based, relatively low start-up cost, and something that we knew we could replicate."

We Do Lines went through the legal process, got registered with the FTC in 2009, and sold its first franchise in April, 2010. The company just sold its' 17th unit at the end of March.

"The line striping business outpaced everything else we had been working on with our respective businesses, so we made that leap, jumped in head first:' Couri added. "We would love to be at 30 units by the end of this year."

In northern climates, line striping is not necessarily year-round, due to weather. But Couri points out that there are indoor parking garages and indoor warehouses than can be striped, as well as other opportunities to limit seasonality. Also, there are pros to being in northern climates where snow, ice and, of course, snow plows destroy parking lot lines more quickly.

"It's a recurring form of revenue:' said Couri. "It's not a matter of if it's a matter of when it needs to be done."

Every year and a half is a good average for re-striping a parking lot, Couri added. But a lot depends on traffic. Some clients require striping twice per year, some three times per year, some every other year, and everything in between. High-traffic areas such as grocery stores, banks and coffee shops need striping more frequently.

"We take it very seriously and attack it from a professional angle, knowing that we can execute any and all of what they need," said Couri. "If it's paint on pavement, we do it. …

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