Lawn firm to be one in half a million

GreenThumb defies recession to record 48 per cent increase in turnover.

The UK’s most successful lawn care company is aiming to sign up its 500,000th customer in 2013 – after a remarkable period of recession-busting growth.

GreenThumb – founded by top entrepreneur Stephen Waring – defied the downturn to record a 48 per cent increase in turnover from £34.8 million to £51.6 million.

The company, based on St Asaph Business Park, in Denbighshire, saw the number of customers go up from 333.258 in 2009 to the current figure of 453,171.

They now have a network of 220 franchises around the UK – an increase of 40 during the same period.

With 90 per cent of the current UK lawn care market,  GreenThumb is way out ahead of its rivals.

The company is regularly cited as one of the country’s top five franchise operations in terms of performance and profitability.

GreenThumb’s humble beginnings in 1986 are the stuff of which business legends are made.

Mr Waring was just 20 when he invested £64 in 1,000 leaflets, put a bucket of fertiliser in the back of his Sierra estate car and knocked on doors offering to feed and weed lawns.

He believes that having half a million customers will be a significant milestone in GreenThumb’s history – but there is still huge potential for continued growth.

With 20 million gardeners in the UK, he is confident GreenThumb can eventually provide a service for five million customers.

According to Mr Waring, the company’s secret of success is that they can treat and look after people’s gardens more cheaply than they can themselves.

He said: “We provide a comprehensive service, but also our costs are low – it’s very affordable for most people.

“It is more expensive for people to go to their local garden centre to buy the materials, to go home and treat their lawn than calling in one of our qualified professionals.

“We won’t make the mistakes that some lay people may make so we leave our customers with a beautiful lawn and a big smile on their face.”

It was a message echoed by GreenThumb Managing Director David Griffiths who oversees the day-to-day running of the company.

While other companies had cut back on marketing during the downturn, Mr Griffiths explained GreenThumb had remained positive throughout the recession.

He said: “We take the view that the company’s growth is still embryonic. Signing up our 500,000th customer this year will be a significant milestone but we firmly believe we will see a tenfold increase in the number of clients.

“We provide a robust, successful business model and the franchisees do really well so long as they adhere to the template.

“GreenThumb is now a huge and trusted brand with  90 per cent of the lawn care market. People only know one name and that’s GreenThumb.

“It’s extremely encouraging to see in recession, franchisees still turning up to visit us in a nice car with a smile on their face and the business is doing well.

“I’m glad to say they’ve nothing but praise for the business and the brand of which  we’re very protective.

“We don’t allow anybody to damage our brand hence all our vehicles are less than three years old and our people wear a smart uniform. It’s very proper and appropriate.”

“We have also introduced the option of direct debit payments which has enabled our customers to be more flexible and ask for additional services and that in turn has contributed to the growth in turnover.

“Our target for 2013 is to get to half a million customers. We feel that it’s very achievable and we’re working very hard with our marketing department to make sure

“Word of mouth recommendations are also our lifeblood – 40 per cent of our new customers are people have been recommended by their neighbour.

“That’s the best form of recommendation and we see up to 50,000 people a year come on board every year through that method.

“GreenThumb has come a long way since Stephen started out with a bucket of fertilizer – but there’s still a long way to go on our journey to an even more successful future.”

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