December Cover Story – Outdoor Living Brands
From Design to Pest Control
Outdoor Living Brands
Has Americans Covered
Outdoor Living Brands has come together over the last several years to form a group of franchises dedicated to catering to the great American pastime of spending time in the yard.
The company was formed in mid-2008, CEO and chairman Chris Grandpre (pictured above) said during a recent interview from Outdoor Living Brands’ headquarters in Richmond, VA. It was birthed to serve as the parent company for the acquisition of several different, but related outdoor-oriented franchise companies.
The companies that form Outdoor Living Brands are: Archadeck Outdoor Living, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, Mosquito Squad, Renew Crew and, beginning in January 2015, Casuwel.
Outdoor Lighting Perspectives designs and installs lighting that complements the landscape architecture and provides safety and security for property. The company also provides holiday and Christmas lighting services.
Mosquito Squad is all about outdoor pest control. Every three weeks, the company treats landscape materials around the base of a house and the perimeter of a yard so homeowners can enjoy a pest and disease free outdoor living space.
And the most recent acquisition, Renew Crew, acquired in late 2012, cleans, seals and protects outdoor surfaces of all kinds, including decks, fences, siding of all kinds, windows, driveways, walkways, patios and any other kind of exterior hard surface that accumulates dirt and needs to be cleaned.
Just next month, the company will be launching its newest business, Casuwel, which will offer a premium line of outdoor furnishings and related accessories.
“So, we have a full service outdoor lifestyle business that focuses on designing and building those spaces, lighting those spaces, keeping the bugs away from those spaces and ultimately cleaning and protecting those spaces,” Grandpre summed up. “In addition, with the launch of Casuwel, we’ll be able to assist our clients to design and furnish their outdoor living spaces for enhanced enjoyment of an outdoor living lifestyle.”
Each of the first four brands was already franchising prior to Outdoor Living Brands’ acquisition of them. This fit perfectly with what the company was trying to accomplish, as they wanted to acquire companies that had strong track records for franchising, but also had potential for strong sales growth for existing franchisees and new franchise unit potential. Casuwel is being launched as a brand new business and will go to market through the collective sales efforts of existing Outdoor Living Brands’ franchisees and through catalog and e-commerce strategies.
Currently, Outdoor Living Brands has about 310-315 franchise locations across all four of the brands. Although the company is national in scope, the geographic footprint of the locations is much heavier east of the Mississippi River.
But, Grandpre pointed out; there are still plenty of territories available across the country. And, some of the brands, prior to being acquired by Outdoor Living Brands, had international locations, meaning the company also took those over and thus it has a handful of international locations. Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, for example, has locations in Canada, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Although the company is looking into more international development opportunities in the future for some of its brands, it’s primarily focused on domestic expansion right now.
National expansion should be relatively easy, as Grandpre categorizes Outdoor Living Brands as a group of lifestyle businesses that help clients relax, dine and entertain outside by extending the functional living space of their homes into the outdoors in an aesthetically attractive environment. And there is no shortage of Americans who want to take advantage of services like the ones offered by Outdoor Living Brands.
And the company is in a great position to be the one to supply those services, Grandpre said, as they feel strongly that they deliver a world-class customer service experience based on the quality of products combined with the level of customer care and service.
A lot of homeowners have been burned by contracting businesses in the past, he said, and they are grateful for the professionalism of the Outdoor Living Brands businesses and are willing to pay for that level of professionalism.
Service Minded People Wanted
And that professionalism starts with the franchisees the company recruits.
“Fundamentally, we’re looking for passionate, energetic and driven people,” Grandpre said. “People who, in their DNA, have a desire to deliver really, really strong client service. Someone who is service minded from that regard.”
Preferably, franchisees will have some kind of marketing experience in their background, the CEO noted, because it all starts with attracting potential customers and turning them into actual customers.
Outdoor Living Brands employs a host of tactics to generate leads for new franchisees, including its dedicated franchising website, social media, franchise broker networks, franchise consultants and trade shows – both franchise trade shows and industry trade shows.
The company’s franchise discovery and qualification process is an eight-step process to educate potential franchisees about the company’s business model while they also learn about the potential franchisees. It usually takes 30 to 60 days for a potential franchisee to work through the process with a recruiter, and at the end of each step, they make a decision on whether it makes sense to continue together.
If potential franchisees make it through the process, it culminates in a confirmation day in Richmond where the new franchisee meets the people at the company and gets a feel for the organization and the culture.
After that, assuming they are awarded a territory, the new franchisee receives initial training which includes a comprehensive operations manual and classroom training programs that range from one to three weeks depending on which brand they have licensed.
In the first couple of years, field teams are out working with new franchisees, helping them to ensure they’ve implemented the processes and procedures that make the franchises successful. This is augmented by lots of weekly phone calls, webinars and online resources, Grandpre added.
Grandpre said Outdoor Living Brands is especially proud of the fact that its franchises have achieved the World Class Franchise designation from the Franchise Research Institute and believes this speaks to the dedication of the company’s franchisees to offer the best possible service they can to keep Americans outside and enjoying their yards.
For more information visit:www.outdoorlivingbrands.com