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VOL. 131 | NO. 226 | Friday, November 11, 2016

Memphis-Area Entrepreneurs Earn Top Franchise Honor

BY MICHAEL WADDELL, Special to The Daily News

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Local entrepreneurs Fain and Sandra Dalton, owners of The Grounds Guys of Germantown, recently took home the award for Franchisees of the Year for The Grounds Guys landscaping services company, which encompasses more than 240 franchisees across the country.

Fain Dalton, along with his wife, Sandra, oversee The Grounds Guys of Germantown franchise. They recently were named the landscaping company’s Franchisees of the Year out of more than 240 locations nationwide. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

The Daltons, who both have a professional corporate work background, made the decision about 10 years ago to start their own business.

“We had decided we wanted to buy a franchise of some type, and we hired some franchise consultants to help us look at different options,” Fain Dalton said.

They decided on The Grounds Guys and opened their new business nearly seven years ago. Franchisees pay an initial $35,000 franchise fee to operate under The Grounds Guys brand and invest between $73,470 and $200,000 to open the business.

The Daltons were among the earliest franchisees in the system, becoming the fifth franchisees to join The Grounds Guys in 2010. Since then, they have enjoyed year-over-year steady growth.

“One of the things we’ve tried to do is to not grow so fast that it got out of control,” said Fain Dalton, who points out that their franchise already has surpassed its 2015 sales numbers this year.

Eighty percent of the company’s business comes from commercial clients, with the remaining 20 percent from residential. Seasonal contracts range from $10,000 to $75,000 a year, depending on the client and their needs, and sales have grown about 20 percent per year for the past three years.

One of the Dalton’s first commercial customers was Kingsway Christian Church in Germantown.

“They handle all of our lawn care, trimming of trees, helping to treat diseased trees, and landscaping,” said Kingsway Christian secretary Nicole Moore. “They’re always 100 percent exceptional.”

The Grounds Guys of Germantown was even featured on an episode of the reality TV show “Undercover Boss” filmed at Kingsway Christian Church in the summer of 2011.

Other large clients include the new Mitsubishi Electric Power Products plant on Riverport Road and Beth Sholom Synagogue, and they work with different builders around town on landscaping installation and maintenance.

Services include lawn care, landscaping, weed and pest control, tree work, outdoor lighting, irrigation, power washing, aquatic maintenance and more.

“We’ve also started this year with spraying for mosquitoes due to the scare with the Zika virus,” Dalton said. “And we are slowly starting to get into hardscapes, installing plant packages for the builders doing construction Downtown. So we’ve joined the Builders Association (Associated Builders and Contractors, West Tennessee chapter), and we are starting to pursue that.”

Hardscaping includes work on paved areas, stairs, walkways and any other landscaping made up of hard-wearing materials such as wood, stone or concrete, as opposed to softscape horticultural elements. During peak summer months, the company runs about 11 to 15 crew members out in the field. Taking care of their workforce so they can take care of their families is the highest priority for the Daltons, but with seasonal fluctuations in the amount of outdoor work available, that had been a challenge in years past.

“Now we also have a Christmas lighting franchise that we purchased last year, and that helps us to keep our crew working during the winter months,” said Sandra Dalton. “It’s a win-win for both sides.”

The company’s recent Franchisee of the Year Award is the highest honor given by The Grounds Guys. The award is presented to the franchisee who has consistently grown through proper training and management of their organization and has had a consistently high level of sales through quality, professional service.

“This is the most prestigious annual award in our organization and the Daltons couldn’t be more deserving,” said Chris Elmore, president of The Grounds Guys, in a written statement. “Franchisees like Fain and Sandra give The Grounds Guys their good name and make working in this business a real pleasure.”

The Grounds Guys franchise is the newest concept of the Dwyer Group family of service franchises, which also includes locally The Glass Doctor, Mr. Rooter Plumbing, Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman, Protect Painting, Mr. Electric and Mr. Appliance.

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