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Partner Trouble

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Oasis1, Aug 9, 2005.

  1. Oasis1

    Oasis1 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    I've been running my own lawn care business for 3 years now and I'm running into a problem with someone. This is more of a moral question but I'm sure some of you have been there before. My best friend has been helping me for the past two years now part time and I also do it part time. Now he thinks he's my business partner. Next year I plan on going full time and doing it by myself. He has not contributed any money to any part of the company.
  2. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,496

    Who pays the bills? Who foots for gas? Who's name is on things? Who has the insurance? Ok, this last one may be a bit beyond the stage you're at. In a legit set of of circumstances, this never comes up.
  3. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,420

    If this sounds blunt sorry but needs to be said. If you are thinking of going full time, legit and everything that entails then you need to step up to the plate and spell out for your friend how this is going to work, that he is not going to be a partner. If everything a person had to do were the easy road the end results would probably not be quite as satisfying.

    Anyway, on a side note how did he get this idea? Has he been misled, intentionally or unintentionally?

  4. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 903

    This is my first summer doing lawn care, but I've been doing snow removal the past two winters. Well, last fall my best friend from grade school comes home from West Point and worked with my through the winter - helping me advertise, quote jobs, customer relations. We split everything 50/50, from income to expenses. But I still felt like when it came down to all the little things... I WAS DOING MORE WORK. Doing the billing software, sending out bills, keeping tedious records, answering phone calls, banking, etc.

    Here's my opinion. You need a boss.. someone needs to be the one who makes the final call. We ran into problems where he would do one thing and I would completely disagree with it. He made some huge mistakes which costs us time and money during the prime snow clearing hours. One time one of our clients came out and asked my "partner" if we could go around and clear off her deck.. Well he immediatly said yes, without looking at the deck or anything! Turns out the deck hadn't had any snow cleared off it all winter and was 3 feet high... AND THE DECK WAS MORE LIKE A CRUISE BOAT. I was pissed.. I NEVER WORK FOR FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The story continues... come spring my "partner" thought he owned half my business and was going to be doing lawn care with me and receiving 50/50. This is when I told him about all the mistakes he made and that one person must be in charge or making the final decisions. He was pretty upset and ended up starting his own lawn care company.. which needless to say is ridiculous. (he runs a lawn tractor for crying out loud).. I think he's mowing 18 yards a week, doesn't compare to my 60 :D
  5. skurkp

    skurkp LawnSite Member
    Posts: 248

    In your first post you stated that your friend did not help with any of the expenses and in your next post you stated that you split everything 50/50.

    Maybe you let him feel that by splitting everything 50/50 he was your partner.

    If you are not wanting this type of problems you should inform your friend that you will pay him for work done and he does nothing to get the work or pay for supplies. This way you are the one responsible and he is just working for pay. There will be a clear understanding.
  6. marionlandscape

    marionlandscape LawnSite Member
    Posts: 93

    contributing all the money does not automatically make you sole owner. If you did not define this earlier how would he know he is not a partner? There are many other valuable contributions that can be made by a partner. I gather you are thinking of taking all of the clients and marching to your own beat. That is all fine but is one of your partners contributions finding clients?
  7. BGL

    BGL LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    i was just there caught up in the same situation. this was something you started and had plans for. you did all the home, you fronted all the money, you went out and got customers. then your best friend realizes that you actually did start a good thing and all the sudden wants to jump on the wagon wheel with you. you need to be straight foward with him. you know just say hey buddy this is something i really want and have both been working working very hard for, but this is my thing. i don't know if you still want him to work for you, but if you do then make it clear that you want him to work for you and not with you. partnerships only cause more problems. keep it simple and to yourself.
  8. LandscapeSolutions

    LandscapeSolutions LawnSite Member
    Posts: 59

    I too had a very similar problem. I had my best friend working with me after I had grown my business to a very respectable size. I told him back then that if he works out then *maybe* he can be my partner down the road. Apparently it all went through his ears because he wanted to always to be in business decisions 50/50 with me. I got sick of it and bluntly told him he IS NOT my partner. I went on to tell him that legally that if he tried to claim himself as my partner it would not hold up in court.

    My advice is to NOT have your best friends working with you. It only causes problems. Now if he thinks he is your partner, he is fooled. Usually a partnership is legally documented and not just verbally. You'd want to see a lawyer to form a partnership.
  9. Tn Lawn Man

    Tn Lawn Man LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 479

    Limitations and Boundaries

    You always set these BEFORE anything else.

    1. NEVER NEVER NEVER and I repeat NEVER tell any of your friends the money side of your business. If they want to work FOR you and not WITH you then you pay them a wage. NEVER A CUT!!!

    2. Make sure they know 1st and foremost that they work FOR you and not WITH you.

    3. YOU do the bidding. YOU do the customer relations. YOU do the invoicing etc.... NOT THEM

    4. YOUR name is on the business license, insurance, bank account etc.... NOT THEIRS

    5. ALWAYS use YOUR equipment and not theirs. If they bring something of value to work, like a mower, trimmer or truck, they will feel like an equal and expect to be treated as such.

    My guess is that you have violated one or more of the above rules. If so, politely (to preserve your friendship) change the way you are conducting things and he will get the hint.

    For example, if he wants to talk to a customer about pricing or something a boss should do, just gently tell him that you prefer to handle those situations. If he volunteers to go bid on a new property, tell him that you will handle it. Politely, tell him what time you would like him to "report" to work the following day, don't ask him something like "What time do you want to start things out tomorrow?".

    You get the point.

    I have never had "partner" problems but I have had friends and aquaintenances work for me before.

    I don't anymore.
  10. Shadygrove

    Shadygrove LawnSite Member
    Posts: 26

    Any one who has studied business knows the key word is risk. The person who wants to work his way into a partnership is not assuming any of the risk
    If the business were to fail tommorrow, who loses what? The person who has invested his capital as well as his effort will lose everything. The person who has only invested his time and effort will only lose his job!

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