Pimp My Lawn is a catchy little name for a business – it puts a smile on your face the first time you hear it spoken.
The first time I heard it was when Kate Bromley answered my phone call – and no doubt Bromley, along with business partner Nick Redmond, are hoping that Pimp My Lawn will ultimately prove to be just as catchy as a franchise model.
If the reaction to their Hawkes Bay pilot franchise is anything to go by – 90 customers in the first three weeks – then they are indeed onto a winner.
It is still early days for Pimp My Lawn – Bromley and Redmond have only been up and running since July, and another pilot franchise on Auckland’s Hibiscus Coast has only been going a matter of weeks.
But of course, like any well-planned franchise business – the preparation has been going on for many months.
To be fair, Pimp My Lawn provides a service that you probably didn’t know you needed until you heard it and saw it in action. You might think that Pimp My Lawn is another lawn-mowing franchise – but Bromley quickly makes the point that they don’t mow lawns, or do your edges, but they do “love your lawn”.
Pimp My Lawn delivers a professional lawn weed and feed service for all domestic and commercial lawns. For a $349 annual subscription (for a typical family-sized lawn up to 300 square metres) a turf manager will make four visits throughout the year and apply 11 tailor-made treatments involving weed control, soil conditioning and fertilising.
Kate says customers will notice a difference in just 12 days and their lawns will quickly become the envy of the neighbours – thicker, greener and weed-free.
So how did the idea for Pimp My Lawn germinate?
Redmond had a successful 18 year background in the green-keeping industry. However, despite his qualifications and his experience on demanding turf projects such as the North Harbour Stadium, Titirangi Golf Club and Ellerslie racecourse, he was ready to take on new challenges.
Redmond returned to Hawke’s Bay and set up his contract lawn construction company Planet Turf and perfected the science of hydro seeding.
As part of the service he offered a complimentary one-off, follow-up weed and feed service for all new lawns he laid, but simply couldn’t fit in a comprehensive lawn care service that customer’s lawns deserved when they requested repeat visits.
Enter Kate Bromley. She has lived in Hawke’s Bay all her life where she owned, operated and recently sold an Innovative Wine retail business.
Besides wine Bromley admits to being somewhat obsessed about the look of her own lawn. She had engaged the services of Redmond, who happened to mention his idea for the weed and feed franchise to her. Nothing came of the initial conversation – however around a year later the subject was raised again and the concept was born.
“Nick had researched the idea for 12 months, and had discovered that in the UK, nearly one in 12 homes is serviced by similar weed ‘n feed services,” says Bromley. She believes there’s no reason to believe that demand would be any less in New Zealand.
Because the aim was to franchise the business from day one, Redmond and Bromley focused on getting their systems right and engaged a well-known franchise consultant for additional advice. They had the benefit of the Planet Turf’s database to call on to launch the business – and not surprisingly, much of their growth has come from word of mouth.
The partners have big goals – 30 franchises covering all major cities in both Islands in a few years time. And with each franchise targeting 160,000 people, or 60,000 homes, Bromley believes it will prove very successful. Commercial customers will make up a significant portion of business.
“We feel that we’ve done everything right so far and we’re on track for steady growth. And while we’ve fielded a lot of enquiries from people interested in taking up a franchise – we want to walk before we run.” She also points out that master franchisees at least will need to hold turf qualifications in order to deliver the required level of professional service.
Hard work, “bloody-mindedness” and a strong desire to win have got Bromley and Redmond to where they are. They’re also open to embracing technology to make their business model succeed and have adopted an automated job management system involving PDAs linked back to their central computer.
And their advice for other wannabe franchisors?
“Plan, plan, plan.” says Kate. “Talk to as many experts as you can. Attend the franchise expos and conferences, where possible engage the best consultants in the country and don’t forget to roll your sleeves up!”
For more information visit www.pimpmylawn.co.nz