Maintenance Contractors Remain Optimistic

U.S. Lawns’ survey shows that the majority believe business conditions continue to improve, and plan on adding crews in 2012.

Small-business owners say independence and potential for personal growth remain the top reasons to start a new company—even during the current economic downturn, according to a national survey released today by U.S. Lawns.

Roughly 74% of entrepreneurs surveyed say the prolonged recession hasn’t doused their enthusiasm for going it alone. In fact, 59% report business is better this year than in 2010. Such optimism, according to U.S. Lawns’ Grassroots Business Climate Survey of owner-operators nationwide, extends into the new year, with three-quarters of respondents forecasting continued improvement in 2012.

“A strong business model and support system are key to any small business’ success,” said Ken Hutcheson, U.S. Lawns president. “Having the right tools is vital to weathering economic ups and downs, and can help new businesses achieve longevity.”

Despite the positive outlook, small-business owners acknowledged some issues. Roughly 24% of respondents anticipate increased demand by existing customers, while 67% expect customers to maintain existing level of services. The survey also found challenges over controlling operating costs (20%) and recruiting and retaining employees (27%).

“Small-business owners are looking toward a more productive year in 2012, but many also realize there are some lingering impediments beyond their direct control,” Hutcheson said. “Access to commercial credit remains the primary challenge, followed by sustained higher costs for fuel, equipment and employment.”

Still, 75% of those surveyed anticipate enough business growth to require additional hiring of one or two crews within the next six months while another 10% forecast the addition of three or more crews.

U.S. Lawns, which Entrepreneur magazine ranks as one of the nation’s fastest-growing franchisors, surveyed its network of independent owner-operators in September. The company has more than 240 franchises spread throughout the country. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 7.1 at the 90% confidence level.