Outdoor Living Brands is a franchise family committed to category-leading innovation, the highest quality standards, customized service, and gracious outdoor living. With three global-leading franchise brands in their portfolio – Archadeck, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives and Mosquito Squad – and more to come, Outdoor Living Brands offers the most exciting franchise opportunity in the growing outdoor living niche.
According to Chris Grandpre, CEO of Outdoor Living Brands, the company’s franchisee network includes over 210-plus locations around the world, all capable of sharing customers through synergy, sharing of best practices, and cross promotion.
“The classic saying in franchising is ‘being in business for yourself, but not by yourself,’” Grandpre says. As part of company with multiple brands, franchisees of Outdoor Living Brands are even less alone.
The origin of Outdoor Living Brands goes back to 2005, when Grandpre joined the Archadeck business. After a year or so, he and the shareholders decided they wanted to transition from a single branded franchise company to a multi-branded business with a family of related companies all serving a similar demographic of clients. The overriding goal, Grandpre says, was to help a retail customer enjoy an outdoor living lifestyle and search for opportunities that would be logical diversification options for existing franchisees.
“That’s when we created Outdoor Living Brands as a new parent company,” he says. “It served as an acquisition vehicle to acquire the stake in Archadeck that we didn’t already own at that time. Then we made subsequent acquisitions in September of 2008 of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, then Mosquito Squad at the end of January, 2009.”
When Outdoor Living Brands acquired Mosquito Squad, the latter brand consisted of 17 locations. Three and a half years into that investment, that number is over 105 and expected to reach 125 by the end of this year.
Outdoor Lighting Perspectives and Mosquito Squad are both companies that had been around for a number of years before becoming part of Outdoor Living Brands, and had both excelled in their fields. Outdoor Living Brands found them through networking and industry contacts via the IFA, and they all mutually decided to work together to cross promote their businesses, and ultimately, put the companies together under one roof.
The decision was a sensible one, because all of the businesses are compatible. Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, for example, is the world’s leading architectural and landscape lighting company – they light the facade of a home, the landscaping, and the outdoor living space in the back of the home (along with full-service holiday lighting and commercial lighting). Archadeck is the world’s leading designer and builder of decks, screened porches, open porches, sunrooms, patios, hardscapes, outdoor kitchens and outdoor fireplaces – the very same living spaces that Outdoor Lighting Perspectives lights.
“At Outdoor Living Perspectives, most of their clients had a lighting system installed on the front of their home,” Grandpre recalls. “Most of our clients at Archadeck were adding attractive outdoor living space to the back of the home, but at the end of the day our clients were the same. In addition, we overlapped in a lot of the markets.”
“We want all of our brands to be in complementary spaces,” he adds. “We want to help our retail customers and our commercial customers to enjoy outdoor living. We’re not looking for business that will be competing within our existing franchisees. We look for businesses that are selling related products and services to a similar client base.”
Outdoor Living Brands’ different arms make for logical “diversification plays” for their franchisees, Grandpre explains. If an Archadeck franchisee is looking for ways to grow, for example, opening a Mosquito Squad franchise would allow them to harness additional services to sell to their customer base.
When looking for compatible franchises to add to their portfolio, Outdoor Living Brands seeks young businesses that want to partner with a larger organization that can help accelerate their growth. Young does not mean unproven, however. “We’re looking for businesses that have an initial track record of success,” Grandpre says.
Ideally, he explains, an Outdoor Living Brands acquisition will have been in operation for three-plus years and have 15-20 locations. “We want proof of concept that the business model works, that the franchising of the business has been successfully tackled, and that it’s in a related industry to the spaces we’re already in.”
Industries they are pursuing include landscaping, irrigation, and exterior maintenance – any sort of outdoor contracting service type of business, Grandpre says.
Additionally, there is a strong culture at the foundation of Outdoor Living Brands, and it’s important their franchise partners can embrace that.
Outdoor Living Brand’s culture is built on a code of values: LIVE WELL. The letters in that phrase stand for eight core values: Lifestyle, Integrity, Visionary, Enrich Lives, World Class, Enthusiasm, Leadership and Laughter.
“Living well is what we’re trying to help our retail customer do,” Grandpre begins. “We fill emotional needs that people have to spend time outside with friends and family,” he elaborates. “They want to beautify the architecture of their home by accentuating it, or the landscaping they’ve done by lighting it – or perhaps they just want to keep the pests away with our Mosquito Squad brand. We’re helping our retail customers to ‘live well’ and enjoy the wonderful aspects of an outdoor living lifestyle.”
The same applies to their franchise owners. “Correspondingly, as a franchise company we have 210-plus franchisees across our three businesses,” he continues. “Many, many of these folks have left corporate America and are looking to be in business for themselves and enjoy some of the lifestyle benefits of owning and operating their own business.”
“They’re trying to take control of their income stream, they’re trying to step away from corporate politics or business travel, and ultimately they’re trying to invest in an asset they can build to create net worth for themselves and their families’ long term.”
As such, the most important part of Outdoor Living Brands culture is ensuring their team does everything they can to help their franchisees accomplish as many of their life goals as possible by investing in a franchise business.
A superior offering
The opportunity to achieve life goals, ultimately, is what attracts people to Outdoor Living Brands. They offer one of the simplest and most enjoyable avenues to that success. “Franchising is a wonderful format for people to access a proven business model and an established brand name,” Grandpre says.
When somebody joins Outdoor Living Brands they are heavily supported, first by a training program with a mix of classroom and field training that runs from one week to four weeks depending on the brand. From there, each brand has a dedicated operations team that interacts with franchisees every day, and helps coach, mentor and support them as they build their business in their local market.
Underpinning that training and support are a series of technology tools franchisees are provided to operate their business on. They are also given access to benchmarking programs that allow owners to compare their business with their peers, to show them where they are excelling and where they can improve.
“The business model itself, the training, the support, the coaching, the technology, the national banding and the PR and the advertising and lead generation programs – those things are all bundled together in that franchise offering,” Grandpre says. “That’s part of what the franchisees get for licensing the brand the business model.”
Legs of growth
As far as the future is concerned, Outdoor Living brands recently set a series of strategic goals for their organization over the next five to seven years.
“There are a couple of legs of the growth stool for our organization,” Grandpre explains. “First and foremost, it starts with helping all of our existing franchisees who are trying to grow their businesses. As a franchisor, when they grow, we grow.”
The second priority is finding talented new franchisees to join their brands. In terms of unit growth, Grandpre says they have specific metrics and milestones they are working hard to achieve.
“The third leg of the stool deals with the number of franchise brands in our family,” he adds. By the beginning of the fourth quarter of this year, he fully expects to close on the acquisition of a fourth brand. Over the next five to seven years, he says they are looking to add a fifth as well, whether that means an acquisition or starting a new brand themselves.
The final leg of the stool is vertical diversification in businesses where it makes sense. The goal is to get into the distribution channel of the products they use to deliver services to their clients. That will help drive costs of goods down for franchisees, ensure consistency of service across the country, and help support the ongoing growth of the overall enterprise.