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Anybody have any experience going into partnership with another lco?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mbricker, Sep 13, 2004.

  1. mbricker

    mbricker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 505

    I've gotten to be friends with a pastor who is trying to support himself with odd jobs and mowing, as he is starting a new church and doesn't expect the church to suppport his family for a while.

    I have been planning to call it quits in October, 'cause the income potential here for lawn care is not nearly as good as some other parts of the country. Basically, I'm busting my butt for less than I could be making in a manufacturing plant. People here are just so used to getting cheap labor on their lawns, because there are so many dumb hillbillies who are willing to oblige them.

    It has occurred to me that some plant jobs are 3 or 4 12-hour shifts a week, and I might keep part of the lawn business for a second job--I currently service about 70 lawns, mowing only.

    Now I've been wondering about forming a partnership with this guy. And believe me, I know about ruining a friendship by going into business with a friend.

    So can anyone give me some advice?
    Turf Medic likes this.
  2. meathead1134

    meathead1134 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 637

    2 words for you "stay away"
  3. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Posts: 10,812

    Does he have any experience??
  4. mbricker

    mbricker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 505

    Not a lot, JG. He has about 3 small commercial accounts (each in the $75 per mow range), and maybe a dozen residentials. And 4 of those are itty-bitty ones on one block that I just gave him. The best thing I can say about him--and it's a lot--he wants to learn and doesn't have any cocky ideas about already knowing everything. He also wants to produce quality work, not just "who cares as long as I get the bucks" cr@p.

    We face one huge problem in this area--set your rates with the intention of grossing $30 an hour or more, and you get underbid more often than you get the job. My current average mowing gross is about $35-38 an hour, because I have made my customers happy enough that I could raise my initial price and keep quite a few. But on bids for new work--people who don't know me--I try to bid based on expectation of $40 an hour, and get about 1 out of 6 that I bid.

    For chem apps, people in this area still consider the national franchises to be the "quality" choice, and only request an independent like me to do apps because they think I will be "cheaper." Same for landscaping installs. Even the larger better known landscape companies are routinely doing the work for a gross of $20 per man-hour or less. Landscape maint. is a similar problem... I have NEVER had a bid accepted when the bid was based on expectation of grossing $25 an hour or more.

    Moral of the story--don't come to WalMart Land in the hopes of getting rich in the lawn biz.

    But as a part-time gig (like a lot of my competitors) it would not be too bad--with a full-time job for insurance and other benefits.
  5. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Posts: 1,796

    Friends or not I would look at the legal aspects of it. If you were to put this partnership on paper it makes both of you have unlimited liability, icorporating will save your assets. If he gets into an account over his head or breaks some laws that he is unaware of and you have partnership it could get really nasty. As a part-time situation it sounds good for both of you but you'd stand to make more if you worked side by side I'd think. He would learn more and faster. As for the low ballers in your area, a regular job will off set that then you can sit and wait for the one that will take your bids at say 35 or 40 per hour.
    Turf Medic likes this.
  6. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Posts: 10,812

    It sounds good! Go for it. But TRY and do what out4now says.
  7. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 678

    Set up a C corporation and/or an LLC with an operating agreement and/or an LLP. If you would like I could help you fill out the forms to do it for a small fee.
  8. Tharrell

    Tharrell LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,964

    You have 70 lawns and can't make it? That's very disheartening to hear.
  9. Turf Medic

    Turf Medic LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073

    You might consider working one season with him doing the majority of the work and you getting a percentage for use of your equipment and customers. That way if he decides that it's not really for him after doing it more like full time, you won't have the hassles of dissolving a partnership. Another possibility, you never know, his church may take more of his time than he planned or the congregation may decide they have a problem with it and you again end up with the hassle of dissolving a partnership. It not only costs money to set one up but also to dissolve, from a legal standpoint. If it is a good deal for the both of you, it will still be a good deal for the both of you next year, and maybe won't cost you the friendship if it turns out to not be a good fit for the two of you. Good Luck
  10. SellPoint

    SellPoint LawnSite Member
    Posts: 32

    70yards*2times a month*$25=$3500

    Rheem, Whirlpool, Trane etc...

    No disrespect but to me it doesn't add up.

    If you think your potential partner can add to your business then go for it. Just have clearly defined expectations for the performance of the company and a breakdown of the responsibilities and liabilities that the two of you will share. Hopefully your'e mowing more frequently at a little higher rate. Good luck either way.

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