I was in a situation very similar to yours when I first came here. A guy was wanting to sell me his existing business and customer base. I was already getting into this business when I came across him. In that case he was selling mostly residential with only a few commercial and was claiming he did about $20k off those residentials. He seemed like a straight shooter too, and he was going to help me get started this summer da da da....At any rate he wanted $5-6K for those 15 accounts. Or about 20k for his whole set up. My first question on this board was what should I do? About 15 guys replied, and everyone of them said don't do it!!(buy the customers). I also called two longtime friendly acquantainces I know who have been in this game a long time and have done very well. They both gave me a resounding No!! It's to easy to get customers in this business....they all said... I ended up buying nothing from this guy. I went with all brand new equipment and 2 weeks after turning him down, already have 6 customers through word of mouth alone and I have not even started to advertise yet. I spent about $1000 on marketing/advertising materials that are just starting to arrive at my house.....if I even get a 3% return across the board in terms of regular customers and generate some steady vacation cuts throughout the season off my marketing, I will be maxed out. The good news is, it only cost me $1000 to get thos customers. In my case I got about a 30 account capacity for this summer. I don't think I will have any problem reaching my goal. If I would have bought his people I would be half booked for the summer and it would have basically taken all my profit on that half to pay him.
In this case, if you have some good commercial accounts in this deal, with signed contracts the people plan on honoring, there may be some real value...
I would be very careful buying accounts though. I was told by these guys it's way to easy to get business in this game and they were all exactly right.