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View Full Version : Losing Customers, might buy up a local company


BGPropertyServices
07-22-2009, 08:12 PM
Hey everyone, I guess I will share my story. I am 23 years old, and have had a legal business for 3 years. In spring 2006 we purchased roughly 25 accounts from my former employer for $20 bucks each. Great deal considering they had an average price of $35 per week. Business was pretty good, we advertised lightly through fliers and business cards, but we are now down to 15 customers because of a couple deaths, people moving, and people deciding to mow their own lawns. It works well now because I am working full time mowing for another company and mowing my own lawns on the side.

I just got my bachelors degree in business from Syracuse University. At the moment I am considering purchasing another company in the area with about 50 accounts. It is either that, trying to grow my own business, or get a boring old full time job starting around 40 grand. Any advise or opinions on the subject would be cool. Thanks, Mark...BG Property Services, Syracuse, NY

DLAWNS
07-22-2009, 11:30 PM
Welcome to the site! I would say go for it. If you have the resources to buy it, do it. If you want to save the cash than just pound the pavement and get your name out there. Either way, if you enjoy working for yourself, than do it up.

nnj18
07-22-2009, 11:39 PM
I'd buy the company as long his books are good and he's asking a good price and will have everyone sign a contract with you.

I'd personally talk to a lawyer.
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BGPropertyServices
07-23-2009, 08:39 PM
Ya I am going to be sure to talk with each of his customers before hand, and hopefully have signed contracts. It just seems like everyone and their mother is mowing in the area and the only way to get new customers is to buy someone out. I already have the equipment and cash saved so I might talk to him more seriously. I certainly love working for myself and especially only 6 months of the year. Will just have to find something to do in the winter, maybe head to Florida.

whosedog
07-23-2009, 09:03 PM
6 months? Don't you mean 9 months ,April through November ,leaf cleanups can last til mid december here in North Jersey depending on frost conditions,then you try to get gutters cleaned before first snowfall. Then a lot of your customers might want you around for snow removal ,you can make good money with a decent snowblower and a plow on your truck.

LandscapeSavannah
07-25-2009, 04:36 PM
Maybe the reason you are losing client base is; you? Just a thought...

golfnpreacher
07-25-2009, 05:42 PM
Let me check the facts, you started with 25, you are now down to 15. I understand the transient nature of things. People move, decide to do it themselves, etc. I live in a heavy military area and they move often.

While buying new clients seems like a good idea, it avoids what I see as a bigger issue. Why are you NOT growing? There is a business principle that can be summed up as... if you're not growing, you're dying.

So, if the accounts are good, go ahead and buy them. However take a hard look at what you need to do to keep them and grow your base or you will soon find yourself in this same position at a later time.

ponyboy
07-25-2009, 06:32 PM
buyimg is easier but the season is half over so it would have to be a great price and they(the customers0 should be willing to sign a contract and the company you are buying them from should sign a no compete clause saying they can not work for these customers again no try to get them back.

LandscapeSavannah
07-26-2009, 01:04 AM
That's all fine to buy someone out- do all that stuff you mentioned. But like the golfin preacher is saying and what I was getting at- and no offence to BGPS; but if you cannot grow yourself and your losing customers then something is wrong here. I don't know you personaly as a business man but you might need to step back and double check. Just because you buy out those accounts doesn't mean you're going to hit it big. You never know- at the end of their contract they may all want out? Just something to think about.

QualityLawnCare4u
07-26-2009, 01:24 AM
That's all fine to buy someone out- do all that stuff you mentioned. But like the golfin preacher is saying and what I was getting at- and no offence to BGPS; but if you cannot grow yourself and your losing customers then something is wrong here. I don't know you personaly as a business man but you might need to step back and double check. Just because you buy out those accounts doesn't mean you're going to hit it big. You never know- at the end of their contract they may all want out? Just something to think about.

I don't completely agree with this even though I understand the point. I started going through a BIG downcline about three years ago. Losing clients left and right. At one time I was down to 6 accounts and this was after 10 years in biz. I stepped back and took a look at myself, I do good work, am on time like clock work and always try to be polite. The answer I got was not me, it was the clients I had. They did not give a sh*t about good work or being dependable, wanted it done cheap cheap cheap. These are not the kind of clients I wanted so I went after the ones who could AFFORD me and wanted a LCO like me. It took awhile but am finally getting back to where I want to be. Not a huge amount of accounts but the ones I have want full care, including hedges and flower beds redone etc and it has worked good so far. They also have deep pockets:usflag: I will say that some of the accounts I picked up had tried the cheap lawn care and learned their lesson. Point is that the problem could be something that the LCO is doing wrong or it may be the type of clients he has.

golfnpreacher
07-26-2009, 04:28 PM
Actually whether is was about you vs price is a point that could be explored.

You don't mention if you had any interaction with you customers other than your dependable track record. I don't care how good your services are, if you don't interact with your clients you will lose them eventually.

Do you leave a service report, showing what you've done and asked for their feedback? Do you talk with them about things you see that you could offer services for? Do you leave a note about the new tree, shrub, flower bed, etc the customer put in and how well it looks, even if you don't think it looks great? Maybe you are doing these things and it was simply a matter of price. But from the business world, I've discovered that a relationship with the customer is a vital key in keeping them. If you give the excellent service and are the most dependable person in the world, but you don't interact with them, they will eventually think you are taking them for granted and will go to someone that appears to appreciate them.

Remember Lawn Care is a CUSTOMER SERVICE business, if you only do the service business you will lose the customer.

g21
07-27-2009, 10:37 PM
BG - Don't panic. First, let's remember, you're only 23. Congrats on getting your degree. Most people coming out of college today can't even get a job (unless it's for an Obama Agency) So let's evaluate what you DO have going for you. First, you do have a substantial amount of accounts that you can grow from. Second, you live in Syacuse, where it snows like you know what! So get Florida out of your mind. If you're going to stay this business, you're going to have to plow. But look on the bright side...it's the most profitable part of the business. In fact, if you didn't want to work all year, your only shot at that lifestyle would be the snow bus. In Syracuse, I can promise, you could plow 5 months out of the year if you did it right, and hang out at the Jersy shore all summer eating sausage and pizza on the boardwalk...sorry for drifting off. Lets get back on track. And lets talk about your BIGGEST ASSET...your degree in BUSINESS! When I was selling franchises, my most successful branch owners were guys who once were in the business world, and then started to cut grass. They understood that cutting grass was just the by-product of what they were trying to do. If you start running your company based on proper business principals, at your age...the sky is the limit! Buying more residentials...I don't think so. A nice clean-cut kid right of business school...people will be waiting in line to give you their business...if you know how to present yourself. Get yourself into the commercial market - you will kill it! If you need any help, don't hesitate to ask.
Tommy