The Ed’s Garden Maintenance Winter Camp 2016 - 12 February 2016

Last week the Ed’s Garden Maintenance Team, including 29 of our 36 Operators, got together for our two day Winter Camp at Walton Firs, Cobham.

On the first morning we were lucky enough to have Tony Bowman, founder and CEO of e-tyres come to speak to us about the value of branding and the benefits of being part of a franchise.  He provided a wealth of information and stressed the importance of good people and good customer service.  This really struck a chord with us as delivering great customer service is at the very core of Ed’s.  PROMPT, RELIABLE and EFFICIENT – that’s us!

We’re not very good at sitting still for too long and so, after a break for lunch, we all split into teams for archery, a buggy building challenge and an opportunity to see and test the very latest in gardening equipment from Ernst & Doe, Stihl, Bosch and Husqvarna.  We were blessed with rare February sunshine which provided the perfect conditions for the 20m buggy sprint challenge!  Let’s just say, we are great gardeners but some of our knot tying skills left a little to be desired. 

In the afternoon, we had another inspirational visitor - Phil Harrison Oaklands Landscaping Ltd. Phil gave a fascinating talk about the challenges he has taken on to build his business from nothing to the impressive scale it is today.

The day concluded with an evening of Pizza and Pints kindly supplied by The Mobile Pizzaria!  We have heard rumours that  the Ed’s Team won the record for the fastest consumption of Pizza…ever….but we’re not confirming anything! Thank you to Tim and The Mobile Pizzeria Team for keeping up with the demand!

The next day we had the pleasure of listening to Ed’s horticultural guru,  Ray Broughton.  Ray has a wealth of experience in gardening matters and regularly provides informative and interesting training to our Operators and this was no exception.  As well as providing us with lots of practical gardening advice, Ray, as always, made sure that we are abreast of all the latest gardening rules and regulations.  Ray wound his slot with an open floor question and answer session.  To date, we have never come up with a question that Ray can’t answer!

Many thanks to all of the abovementioned people who helped make this event such a success.  Thank you also to our wonderful Operators who took time away from their busy schedules to come along and throw themselves into the event with such gusto.  We have received some wonderful feedback and we are so pleased you got so much out of it!

If you enjoy the outdoors are looking for a career change and could be interested in joining the Ed’s Garden Maintenance Team, please do not hesitate to get in touch!  We would love to hear from you! www.edsgardenmaintenace.co.uk


Key considerations when choosing your franchise - 02-November-2015

In this exclusive article for whichfranchise.com, Edward Mauleverer, of Ed’s Garden Maintenance , has the following to say regarding important things to consider when choosing which the right franchise for you.

“The Franchise business has really taken off in the UK in recent years and there is a vast range of franchise offers available. Joining a franchise is not a decision that should be taken lightly - people invest considerable sums of money and enter contracts that are typically around five years’ duration. It is very important that investors approach their decision-making in a thorough way – they are much more likely to be happy and successful in the long run.

There is clearly a whole range of things to consider when buying a franchise. However, the following considerations are of critical importance and should always be taken into account when making such an important decision about your future:-

1) Remember the service that’s at the core of the business. Don’t be seduced purely by the earnings potential. Clearly, the financials are important but equally as important is the fact that you will be delivering the service of the business you are investing in day in day out and it is very likely that you will be more successful doing something you enjoy. Many of our franchisees come to us because they either love gardening or a healthy outdoors lifestyle and they rarely change their views on this. Don’t make the mistake of signing up for something that you won’t enjoy .

2) Do your homework and shop around . Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all franchises are the same. They are all very different - from their fee structure right through to the culture of the specific business. Make sure you take enough time to understand all of this. At Ed’s we actively encourage potential franchisees to look at other franchises - we would much rather be selected for compatibility reasons than to just be the first franchise option someone stumbled on.

3) Take your time to find out about other franchisees in the business , not only about how much money they earn but how they feel about what they are doing, the key challenges they faced etc. Find out how many of them sign for a second term. It is true that franchisees are very busy running their own businesses and can’t be spending all their time meeting potential franchisees. However, it is very valuable to be able to speak to established franchisees to help you to make your decision - after all, they were in your shoes not that long ago. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask for this access. At Ed’s we actively encourage prospective franchisees to go out with established franchisees and they have carte blanche to ask whatever they like. This gives a great insight into what it’s all about without any ‘hard sell’ tactics. We would much rather people signed up with their eyes open wide.

4) Try to see beyond the marketing of a franchise and understand how supportive franchisors really are. Try to get a good feel for the quality of the initial training. A good indicator of franchisor professionalism and their long-term commitment to the success and wellbeing of the franchisee, is their commitment to ongoing support and training. At Ed’s we do continuous business coaching and also invest a lot of time and money on ongoing training. In our view it is money very well spent.

5) Take your time to think things over properly once you have all the information you need. We actively discourage people from signing up impulsively and always send them away to think it over. A good franchisor will want you to have made an informed sensible decision to join, having reflected properly rather than making an on the spot decision. It is also a very good idea to take a partner or friend along when you go to meet the franchisor. It is invaluable to have someone to discuss the option with afterwards.

6) Take professional advice. Always get a legal professional to go through the contract before signing anything. Remember that the devil can be in the detail.

7) Finally, trust your gut instinct – if something niggles and tells you that a particular option isn’t right for you, then it probably isn’t. The same applies to when an option feels right – however even then, make sure you back your gut feeling up with solid research and side by side comparison!”


Franchising and technology - friend or foe? - 03-August-2015

Since the invention of the Internet, life, as we knew it, was revolutionized on every level: from how we communicate to how information is shared and consumed. Yet, it is important to consider the questions: When it comes to business, how central should technology be and does it give my company a competitive edge? In this exclusive article for whichfranchise.com, Edward Mauleverer, of Ed’s Garden Maintenance, advocates technology as a lynchpin for a franchise business.

“When it comes to running a gardening business, like Ed’s Garden Maintenance, I agree that business has pretty much been conducted in the same way for years, perhaps with the exception of a mobile phone and computer in the latter half of the 20th century. However, in order to be more efficient and effective, technology should be at the heart of your company system.

One of the main areas which must be looked at is your company website. It is essential to have a strong online presence and this specifically means, an excellent website which is user-friendly, attractive and comprehensive. Within this it is imperative to get to grips with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO); it impacts the ranking of your website within search engines. Therefore, by looking at implementing new technological strategies you can positively change how quickly and easily potential customers find you.

With a background in systems development, I was in prime position to implement necessary changes to our website. Although our website was perfectly good beforehand, we are of the opinion that, should you want to be in online pole position, it is essential to keep up with the technological changes. With a new website launched, in line with Google’s SEO updates, we saw a dramatic rise in both telephone and website enquiries.

The way we see things at Ed’s Garden Maintenance is that we offer franchisees a powerful tool kit for each franchisee to personalise their online brand presence. This is measured allowing instant visibility as to how well they are doing which helps achieve business growth. Eds is continually updating and improving the systems to help franchises have a competitive advantage over other gardeners. This also affects other areas of technological systems. For example, we offer a bespoke management and information system where franchisees can respond to customers in a timely manner, yet keeps track of everything, from accounts to appointments. Such systems can help franchisees feel more in control.

It is clear that technology is an essential part of an efficient and effective business, however it is important to remember that at the core of the company is the business ethos, the support and guidance of your Franchisor, and the network of the franchisees. Technology helps to keep us connected and we are becoming all the more stronger for it.


Ed's Garden Maintenance: Strong relationships...at every level - 08-May-2015

First of all, that means building strong relationships with customers. Our Franchisee Operators really understand customer needs and are prepared to go that extra mile to deliver professional solutions. The result is happy and loyal regular customers who underpin our Operators’ successful businesses and enable them to go from strength to strength in growing their businesses. We believe that that’s what really sets our Operators apart from the competition.

However, the importance of relationships is not just constrained to the Operator/customer relationship in Ed’s. It is a thread that runs through our organisation. There is great value in strong relationships across our network where operators share their experience and support each other to be the best they can be. In addition to initial training days where new Operators go out with established ones to ‘learn the ropes’ we have regular training days where our Operators get together and have the opportunity to discuss issues and to share best practice.

Finally, but by no means least is the importance of strong relationships between the Ed’s office and Operators. In a nutshell, this means that we really get to know our Operators as individuals, understand what they really want their businesses to become and support them every step of the way to reach those goals. This is not lip service – just have to look at our training and support programmes to see that we really do invest in our Operators and work closely with them. We firmly believe that the more successful our Operators are, the more successful Ed’s is as a whole.

Let’s just give you a real example of this:-

So we got a bit creative, thought out of the box and came up with a solution that suited both Operators perfectly. The result was a deal in which Steve sold a significant chunk of his quality customers to Dan and by so doing consolidated his business as he had wished and, brought himself to a turnover level where VAT registration was not an issue. Steve also made a good cash sum for his efforts building a good quality customer base. For his part, Dan was able to purchase a great group of regular customers that he could service pretty much from day one and he was able to get his business off to the flying start he thought he could only dream of. A true win-win for both parties which would never have happened had we not known our Operators very well and applied some joined up thinking to the situation.

In Dan’s words, “I was thrilled to join Ed’s anyway. It was clear to me from very early on that they were well ahead of the game in their personal approach and the support that they give. However, I was doubly thrilled when, so early on, I was given a great opportunity to mould my business as I wanted to. The team really does listen to you and work with you.

Also, from what I’ve seen so far, the other Ed’s Operators are really supportive as well. Since we’ve done the deal, Steve has been in touch with me most days just to check how things are going and that I am all on track. Already being part of Ed’s is more than living up to my expectations. You really feel that the whole Ed’s team is behind you, wanting you to do well.”

Happy franchisees, happy franchisor, that’s our mantra.

Established in 2003, Ed’s started franchising in 2007 and is now the largest domestic garden maintenance franchise in the UK. With over 35 operators, Ed’s has welcomed three new franchisees this year already and Ed’s services now extend as far as Stratford-upon-Avon, Norwich, Bristol, the South and Kent Coasts.


Ed's Garden Maintenance see first business split releasing capital to the Franchisee - 04-November-2014

Ed’s franchisee John Marshall successfully split his business generating a capital sum that exceeds his original franchise investment. John who started an Ed’s franchise in the Chobham area only three years ago has developed a large enough customer base to enable him to sell half of these generating a significant lump sum whilst retaining his franchise.

As John has said “I found myself in a dilemma in that my kids have now fled the nest and my wife and I want to move away from London. I have created a strong gardening business and want to build another one with Ed's. Being part of Ed's is quite unique in that I am able to split my protected area and capitalise on all the customer goodwill I have generated over the last three years and carry on where I want to live. I have sold half my area for more than I paid when I initially started. Where do you get that kind of flexibility in a business venture!”

“It's all about creating a win-win scenario for all parties involved” says Ed Mauleverer, founder of Ed’s Garden Maintenance. “What we really want is a thriving network of happy operators and happy customers. John has received a payment greater than his initial investment and can rebuild his Ed's business where he wants to live. The customer is happy because they are still going to get a good service from Andy who understands Ed's core values about being prompt reliable and efficient and Ed's has gained a new franchisee. I think we’re unique in that Ed’s is the only franchise business to offer this.”

Releasing a percentage of his customer base keeps John under the VAT threshold, and in freeing up some of his time he will be able to take a strategic approach to growing the business again. Whilst people may think it’s better to have a large territory the Ed’s business model works on developing an area of customers that is as concentrated as possible. This reduces travel time between jobs and increases the number of gardens that can be maintained in a day. The perfect scenario is to arrive at one end of a residential road and simply move from garden to garden to the other end of the same street; a scenario that many Ed’s operators have created.

“By paying a little more than I would for a new franchise” says Andy who has just purchased John's regular customers “I can really hit the ground running with a strong customer base in place from Day One. I know that I'll have a very healthy revenue stream that will accelerate my goals of growing the business to the next level. The lifestyle is a lot more attractive than my previous one too. My decision was a total no brainer.”


Interview with Stuart Thackeray of Ed's Garden Maintenance, Mid Norfolk

Ed's Garden Maintenance Franchisee Stuart Thackeray
Mid Norfolk

Franchisee: Stuart Thackeray
Territory: Mid Norfolk
Franchise : Ed’s Garden Maintenance

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your franchise?

I decided to go down the franchise route as I was no longer fulfilled by my previous career and wanted a change to do something which I had enjoyed doing in my free time. However, being used to working in a structured and professional corporate environment I felt the franchising route would still allow me the freedom to work at something I enjoyed, yet provide a framework and offer support and advice whilst I embarked on the most significant change in direction of my career.

I had followed the growth of Ed’s Garden Maintenance for a number of years, and I felt they offered fair initial start-up fees, a professional approach and a strong focus on maximising online presence. I found Ed’s very supportive from the outset in terms of training as well as providing guidance on how to successfully run and market the business.

What did you do before taking up a Ed's Garden Maintenance franchise?

In my previous career I was an IT contractor working for various financial institutions in London and Edinburgh.

How did you raise the finance?

Whilst contracting in my previous career I was able to set aside surplus revenues earned.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

  • Business Objective planning
  • Marketing Plans
  • Training to safely use the professional gardening equipment
  • Initial and ongoing in-house business coaching to optimise performance
  • Ongoing training focusing on different aspects of gardens/plants.

What is a typical day for you as a franchisee?

No day is the same. The day starts by checking the Ed’s system to remind me of the customers and jobs booked for the day. Any special equipment and tools needed for the day are loaded into the van. During the day I may receive text and email alerts issued by the office providing details of new enquiries from customers – invaluable when you are out on the road. Where possible I try to call the customer within an hour and, if they are near to where I am working, I aim to visit them and provide an estimate for the work.

I dedicate some days to a gardening round of regular customers, with a day concentrated in a certain location to minimise unnecessary travelling. Here, time is spent on typical maintenance tasks – mowing, hedge cutting, general garden upkeep etc. In addition I set aside a couple of days a week for larger one-off jobs such as clearing overgrown gardens, turfing or patio cleaning.

After finishing with my scheduled jobs during the day, I will visit the gardens of any new enquiries, providing estimates for the work requested.

Finally, once back home in the evening the Ed’s system containing all customer and job details is updated and invoices issued. Being disciplined and regularly keeping on top of the admin is key and stops it from becoming an overhead. This gives me real time visibility into how my business is performing and is absolutely critical to my business reaching its full potential.

What challenges have you faced?

The work is physical! The nature of the business means it is seasonal. During the summer there is a significant peak and a full week of scheduled jobs can become a problem to re-arrange if there is a bad spell of weather. Diversification and a good regular customer base helps to offset the slow down in winter. However, I find this a good time to get to work on my own garden as well as take some holiday!

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?

Most definitely, nowadays I actually enjoy getting up to go to work. In fact, often it doesn’t feel like work – just doing one of my favourite activities, albeit at a much faster pace! At times, the work also allows me to be more creative for example by developing planting schemes for customer’s beds and borders which is an area I really enjoy.

Once in a while, I have the flexibility to keep a day free to either work on my own garden or have a day on the beach for example – I am in charge now!

What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?

As well as the marketing and search engine optimisation work, which is done centrally by Ed’s Garden Maintenance, I advertise in local magazines and shops and increasingly use social media as a way to promote my business. In addition, Ed’s provides a dedicated local web page for me to add updates and tips. Here, there is also an opportunity for my customers to add their reviews of my work, which goes a long way to help new customers on deciding to get in touch after visiting the site.

What differentiates your franchise from the competition?

When I was looking at franchise options, Ed’s Garden Maintenance stood out in its professionalism and the support it gives its franchisees. I also think it is more dynamic, innovative and flexible than the competition. Ed’s seems to balance very well growing a thriving network but still treating franchisees as individuals. Testament to this was the support I was given when I decided to move my business from Surrey to Norfolk.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

Dedication and a genuine interest in the work you do. Value the customers needing small jobs just as much as the higher value ones.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?

Research all the franchises in your chosen field thoroughly and speak to a range of franchisees performing at all levels to understand their views. Once you have decided to invest in a franchise, be prepared for it to take over your life… for the first couple of years at least!

What are your plans for the future?

I am working to significantly grow my regular customer base close to home. Once I am at full stretch, I will take on additional staff and eventually invest in a second van to double my workload capacity and increase revenues further.

Would you do it again?

Absolutely. No hesitation.


 
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