I need honest advice - Please help

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by lawnperfections, Jul 30, 2001.

  1. lawnperfections

    lawnperfections LawnSite Member
    Posts: 63

    Please forgive my double post but I did know where to ask.

    I work (Sr. Systems Analyst) for a hospital here in Jax. Its a good job(pays $53K)that I like but not love. I also have a part-time lawn care business that I love. Over the last year I have built it into a 30- 40 customer business ($27-30K) in just my neighborhood of 225 homes. Long story shorter. A business man that I have worked out with in the gym for the last 2 years has approached me to take the business "big time". He wants to diversify his portfolio. He is an electrical & communication contractor with 57 employees running about 30-40 trucks all over Jax. He a very honest and genuine family man, that enjoys the lawn industry. He says that he does a lot of commercial work and has a lot of contacts. He will be putting up 100K - 150K of his own money to get started with a the truck, equipment and 3 member crew. He would like to have 3 to 5 crews running in 6 to 12 months. Lawn care in FL is almost year round. I would be the sales force and foreman until we can justify hiring one. This would be a 50-50 partnership.

    While I love the lawn care business and enjoy selling and customer relations I don't want to give up $80k to make $40k. By the way my wife is 5 months pregnant and will be quitting work when the baby comes in Dec.

    My questions are:
    What is the likelyhood of making 80-100k.?
    Would any of you do this?
    Should I just keep doing what I'm doing?
    What kind of gross sales do I need to generate?


    Please give me your honest opinion because I have found that this site is the best place for good, honest answers.
     
  2. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,490

    Lawnperfections,

    You've got a tuff decision to make. I'm glad it's you and not me. I'm a solo operater and have been for the last 12 years. I've known people that have partnered with who they thought were friends (and relatives) only to become bitter enemies. If you should go into business partnership with this man BE SURE to have an attorney draw up an aggreement stating who does what and who pays for what etc. etc. It will be for the benifit of both of you. If this guy balks at this idea I would RUN, not walk away from the deal. Considering that you'll be a Daddy very soon I think I would also consider the problems with health insurance. Will you have any with this new venture? What are the chances of you keeping your present dayjob and hireing someone to run your existing lawnservice? You would loose money initially but it would free you up to help out at home with the new addition. Just my .02, good luck whatever you do.
     
  3. MATTHEW

    MATTHEW LawnSite Senior Member
    from NE OHIO
    Posts: 665

    My honest opinion is that you keep your situation stable. You probably will be able to benefit from a pension when you retire and you are probably getting decent health insurance at decent rates. If you love the lawn business-just keep doing it! It is great part time income. Also you can use it for a backup if you should ever lose your job suddenly. Just my opinion.
     
  4. roscioli

    roscioli LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 749

    Wow, I dont even want to try to answer that. How much do you value stability? Obviously it is important for you with a child coming, but how much do you have saved up? Enough to support a family in case this fails? What if you dont do it? Will you lose all your customers to him? Yikes, what a situation.. Sorry I cant help.
     
  5. powerreel

    powerreel Banned
    Posts: 481

    Cool.... You're gonna have to bust yer butt and do both for awhile. After everything is said and done you'll be a better man.
     
  6. Currier

    Currier LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 564

    Why not just look at various options or levels of involvement? Do you have to quit your other job? or can you keep it, merge with the partner, add some extra help and find yourself more administrative rather than operational.

    Look at all kinds of possible options.
     
  7. Michael Fronczak

    Michael Fronczak LawnSite Member
    Posts: 230

    My honest advise, stick with your day job & part time bus. I too have a baby on the way(9/23 due), and get very nervous. I am full time have been for a while, since '97. My wife works full time, with great benefits, doesn't intend to stop after baby, we need benefits more than anything else. trying to jump into straight commercial work, selling & being foreman is a very tough deal. We do mostly commercial work, it takes a while to learn to deal with the people, build reputation/references, & learn all you can about everthing related to the field from installation to maintenance problems. Good luck Wifes calling.
     
  8. Bob_McNaughton

    Bob_McNaughton LawnSite Member
    Posts: 94

    Lawnperfections,

    I wouldn't recommend taking on a partner. They are nothing but headaches, and if the relationship sours(as do all partnerships after time), you will be stuck wrestling control of the company in court. Don't do it!

    As for your two careers.. I'd drop the Systems Analyst position and take your lawn business fulltime. If you already have 40 customers and are doing 30k a year mowing lawns, you have a foundation ready for expansion. There are guys in my area doing 125k a year with ONE crew. I know solo guys pulling down 85k a year(go getters). You shouldn't have a problem making up the other 50k of your analyst position, and you would be doing somethign you love.

    Working for the man gets old, real fast, and later, you will regret not doing what you love. (I know I do) The security of your 9-5 job is pretty tough to give up, but the drive for success should allow you to meet your income essentials in the lawn business, especially if you love it.

    Worst case scenario, you could ALWAYS find another job as a Systems Analyst down the road if you decide in a few years that full-time lawn maintence isn't for you. If not, then a 50k a year job is pretty easy to find in almost any field. Both of which would mean you sold-out to the man, and once you taste the freedom of fulltime lawn maintence, locking yourself up in a cubicle again would be something you just wouldn't accept...

    Security is not worth the price of admission. There is affordable healthcare available out there, if you look hard. Incorporate, and offer yourself and your family benefits through the corporation, and use the full write-off. Worst case, you can get an independant group insurance plan for 300$ or so a month for the family. Again, you can write this off.

    I know how you feel though, once I resign from my company, the benefits are going to poof. But I currently pay $250.00 a month for full insurance (optical, dental, health). Paying another $200 a month to get it on my own will be well worth it. Or, my wife is a RN, and can pick it up at her work if she wants. Its really not that big of a deal and certainly isn't worth doing somethign you don't love, just to keep the benefits..

    Also, the last thing to consider, there are alot of companies out there that offer insurance to part-time employees and their families. Radioshack is one of them. All you have to do is work 5-10 hours a week, and you got insurance for your family.. I'm considering staying with Radioshack after next spring, just working 1-2 days a week, a few hours a day. (Sat/Sun 4-5 hours each). JUST to maintain the benefits, and stock purchase plans. This is still up for debate though, and I won't make a decision until the time is more near.

    I've felt like a caged animal for the last 8 years, and its killing me! They are sucking the life out of me.. Dumbing me down, turning me into a machine with only one purpose, to slave and make THEM money. In a few years, when my production and numbers begin to drop (burn out), i'll be thrown into the dumpster like a bag of rubbish. Don't let that happen to you.. (Dramatic, I know)

    Good luck.
     
  9. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,913

    With the kid on the way & 1 less job income …THAT is an issue …can’t help with what you must come to terms with it ….cash WILL be tight ….at First

    As far as health insurance ……we have Blue Cross and the cost if quite reasonable …start up of 3 guys & equip ……with goal of 3-5 crews (trucks with 2-3 guys each) the company will HAVE to have a health plan & benefits (if you wish to attract qualified crew leaders) ….

    The partner issue is iffy ....I'm in one & it works ....but I know many whom Regret it ....He does bring plenty to the plate wit $$ and Contacts .....(very good) ....he should be able to provide much information on insurance, legal & CPA stuff … your investor / partner sounds has if he is an asset (57 employees ….I’d say he has lots of knowledge on large scale operations) …You may feel you know him but yes see a Lawyer!

    What about your present accounts & equip ….. do you sell it to the new corporation …..there’s some extra $$ for kid ……or is that your put up Cash as well as your time risk ?? …Do you get a Paycheck or it 50-50 from start ……what about years from now if you’re a big success ….he still gets 50% of your hard work ?? ….I’d do the 50-50 but still need a weekly check ….. perhaps a check related to % of income for the first 2 Years??

    100- 150k will be pretty eaten up just to equip, locate, set up & ADVO … (don’t buy a 30K work truck …..get a nice used crew cab diesel for under 15k, and DO get a 60” deck on the ZTR, get NEW 2 cycle stuff, buy a USED enclosed or open ….rent a property in a commercial area with a house n then sub lease out the house …..get SMART with that $$) ...BUT with good $ management you should have NO Cash Flow Issues first 12 Months ....Just Gotta get them Jobs

    If you can REALLY Get Jobs Lined up Fast …..and here’s a KEY …..Get Some GOOD WORKERS …than Do It …. But if you need STABEL ……Think Twice …DON”T Quit the Main Job UNTIL you are over worked ….. hire a Good Crew Leader & Worker ….. Check up on them …..get more accounts ….THAN maybe Quit

    Commercial …..well no matter what you may …..hear said …..or read …..Commercial is where the MONEY is ……period …hands down ……on most PREMIUM Commercial (hint è SELL n BE A GOOD IMAGE …. SUB OUT WHAT YOU CAN’T DO & CHARGE A PREMIUM !!) ….you will be able to charge $ 35-45+ per hour …..landscaping & palm tree work will be DOUBLE …Even TRIPLE that …..(Down here that’s GOOD $$)

    This is NOT to Say that a Fat Premium River Estate or Multiple Yards on a Street is Not good $$$ ..... they are

    The real question is “can you run a successful business & do you have the time commitment it demands” if you say YES ….than you Should Do It ….... ….Good Luck ;->
     
  10. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Posts: 7,850

    This is easy. You have the best of both worlds right now. Keep your systems job and quit the lawncare and devote more time to your family. Insurance is reasonable while you are young and healthy. But the older you get the higher it goes and add a family to that with dental.
    Working 2 jobs cant leave much time or energy to entertain a wife and kids and 53000$ is alot of money by itself.
    The partnership could flop like the above have said
     

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