Joshua Tree Experts Launch Franchise Model - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Joshua Tree Experts Launch Franchise Model

Photo: Joshua Tree Experts

Joshua Tree Experts, based in Stockertown, Pennsylvania, started in 2005 as a general tree service and plant health care company. Now they have grown to a $7 million business through their three-in-one business model by adding lawn care and pest control services.

“We’ve really built the business up and we really focused on managing client expectations and giving the clients a wow factor,” says Joshua Malik, CEO of Joshua Tree Experts. “We developed a lot of systems and processes within and a lot of our clients were talking about headaches that they have with their current providers of lawn care. We knew it could become another revenue model for us. We had the staff. We have the systems in place. A lot of homeowners they want to deal with one company for several services and we knew that we could be successful at launching that department.”

Malik says about 40 percent of their current customer base added lawn care when they launched it in 2017. In 2020, they added on pest control services, which includes mosquito, flea and tick control. He says they are focused mostly on selling these services to their existing customer base.

“We’re trying to cross sell, upsell on our other services,” Malik says. “We’re starting to probe that question of if they’re having someone care for their lawn or provide pest control treatment, and then we focus on contacting them throughout the year with maybe direct mail. It could be an email campaign or a text campaign. It could be our indoor sales team that’s calling that directly trying to cross sell it as well.”

Now the company is looking to expand through high-net-worth individuals and open 35 franchise locations in the next two years.

Malik says he started thinking about franchising his company back in 2019. He says starting a tree care company from scratch can be hard, but their franchise model is very scalable.

“When we can use the power of franchisees and pooling funds together and within different locations that can sustain such a business, it’s really a great growth strategy for becoming nationally recognized,” Malik says. “My legacy is I want to be able to grow the brand and we want to be able to provide the most professional service that we can.”

Joshua Tree franchisees will learn everything about tree care including pruning, removal services and plant health care, before scaling into lawn care and pest control services just like Joshua Tree did at the home office. Malik says they decided to use a set of KPIs such as client retention, closing ratios, safety, staffed employees, equipment, and enough money to invest in the next model, to determine when a franchise is ready to add on the other two services.

“You can grow and scale this business, as quick as you want to or as slowly as you want to,” Malik says. “Once you hit these KPIs, you can launch into lawn care and pest control.”

Joshua Tree franchisees can have different territory sizes and they can buy up to seven territories. Joshua Tree has identified areas where they know they can support all three of their services. States including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and New Jersey are all areas franchisees could be successful in.

“When it comes to territories and if a franchisee or potential candidate contacts us and talks about interest, we’ve developed a mapping software that we had specifically designed around our demographics,” Malik says. “Our demographics are home value, property size, average age of the homeowners, the average age of the home, college educated, kids. We want areas in territories that are very similar to the density and a target market of demographics that we’re currently in.”

Malik says they launched their franchise with a support team called Franchise Fastlane, which takes on emergent brands. He says their ideal franchisee candidate is an individual who has an entrepreneurial mindset and can follow their system and stick to it. He wants owners who are wholeheartedly invested in the business and want to grow it.

“We’re going to give a ton of backend support,” Malik says. “We have a call center. We have recruiting efforts that we’re going to be doing. We’re going to be helping them with marketing launch, and all these other things that come into the franchise of why you buy a franchise system.”

He says executive C suite type people who have experience managing, an entrepreneurial mindset and are looking to build their net worth are another good fit.

“You don’t need to have industry specific experience to launch Joshua Tree,” Malik says. “We’re not looking for owners to go out and climb trees or spray lawns or spray tree and shrubs. We want to teach them the business system on how to operate a professional tree care, lawn care, pest control company. We can provide them the tools, the operations manual, the vendor list, the marketing, and we want them to be working on the business and not much in the business.”

Joshua Tree offers two different franchising models – the wealth builder and the wealth grower.

“The wealth grower is that type of individual that already has the money and they’re looking to invest and they have money where they want those tax advantages,” Malik says. “They’re buying their equipment upfront. They’re buying their vehicles up front. They have the cash to launch. They don’t need to take a loan out.”

The wealth grower model costs between $300,000 and $600,000. Meanwhile, the wealth builder goes at a slower pace as is between $200,000 to $300,000.

Malik says it took them about two years to get all of their systems and processes tightened up the way they wanted. In 2021, they launched a second location to serve as a franchise prototype. He says other landscape company owners need to understand that franchising is not something you can do on whim.  

“There’s a lot of costs behind it within franchising and they say you’ll have about a million dollars invested into the system before you sell your first franchise,” Malik says. “If you have a business, you’re going to use a lot of that net profit that you’re pulling from that business, and you’re going to be doing a lot of forward investing in the franchise system.”

Malik encourages networking with the right people or hiring a consultant who can help you develop your operations manual, formulate your franchise disclosure document, and navigate the different state laws around franchising.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.