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Things my mother taught me .....

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by gardengnome, May 26, 2013.

  1. gardengnome

    gardengnome LawnSite Member
    Posts: 100

    and I chose to challenge! Hopefully you will learn from my lack of insight.

    I had a "mid-life crisis", well I like to call it that cause it sounds so much better then: "I got a hair up my arse and decided to do something stupid". Either way, I left the business for about a year and a half. You know that saying about the grass being greener on the other side, trust me when I tell you that it is not necessarily greener. Sure, there were some great benefits to this job, insurance, paid vacation, no worries about customers/equipment and good folks to work with. Butt all in all, I could not stand the internal politics, the pettiness of management, he stupidity of some of the people working there and the fact that I would be working nights till I retired was not quite too appealing either. Many years ago, a late customer of mine whom I told that his "lawn" was nothing more than weeds, told me "Yes, but if you stand on the other sided of the road, it sure is a pretty green". Guess that pretty much sums it up. So if you are contemplating whether to leave the business or to go to work for someone else, make sure you can work for someone else, make sure you can live with working in an environment controlled by someone else and make sure you can live for the next 10-20 years with doing the type work you are wanting to switch too.

    Do not jump feet first! The opportunity which presented itself to me came rather unexpectedly and required a fast decision. Had I had more time (or I should say "had I taken more time ...") to evaluate all aspects of this opportunity as opposed to remaining in the landscape field, I am fairly confident I would not have left. Jump Head first!

    You have to make yourself happy first. It turns out I was not happy in this "opportunity" and as a result others weren't happy either. Yes, part of my decision was to make my wife happy so she could quit worrying about this that and the other. Turns out it wasn't worth it for either of us.

    Never do business with family or Friends. Ever!!! But, hey, what the hell does she know right? I sold my company's assets to a friend, to compound matters I financed it at 0%, gave him my company phone # if he would assume responsibility, let him use my 4X8 portable custom sign located on a busy 4 lane hwy and let him use a customer owned reel mower. Can you say "STUPID"? Yes, I did have a contract and he did sign a personal guarantee. No, I did not file a UCC with the state, didn't know what that was or that I needed to, thank you Mr. attorney. So after my non-compete was up I started to gather equipment, picked up some new customers and started some marketing (I was still working on that other job) which included telling my old customers that I was re-entering the business and that if they were interested please call me, at no time did I call anyone to ask them to switch back to me and in fact my prices were slightly higher than the last price they had been paying my "friend". I have been called unethical for that btw. I did get a number of requests to resume service and shortly after I failed to get paid by my "friend". I have heard from a number of my returning customers that his wife was calling them claiming I was trying to steal his customers. Anyway, so off to the attorney, request payment and when that failed to court to get a judgement for breach of contract. He never responded and did not show for the hearing. Then with judgment in hand to collect my equipment as per the contract, except he filed personal bankruptcy an hour before he was to turn over the equipment and the sheriff would not enforce the judgement against his company without a court order, I finally got that straightened out except that right after he was notified by the attorney (!) that I was going to collect from the company, he transferred the equipment to his personal assets and claimed them as exemptions on his bankruptcy filing. I guess he's not so broke that he can't afford to pay his company for a fully equipped tandem axle enclosed trailer. Now I have to go to a hearing to find out IF I can get my equipment back!
    In case you're wondering, I now refer to my "friend" as a dishonest, unethical, unprofessional and overpriced POS who is trying to steal my equipment with his Bi-atch wife. Let me repeat myself: NEVER, EVER DO BUSINESS WITH A FRIEND!!! Never finance anything you sell unless you can afford to lose the money. Bottom line here is that even with crossing your "T's" and dotting your "I's" you can do everything right as far as you know and you can still get shafted. Had I had a UCC filing this may all still have happened and I might still have to jump through hoops, but there would be no doubt I would prevail.

    I also learned that customers do not want any part in getting caught in the middle of stuff like this. They'll leave.
    People will find someone else if they are dissatisfied rather than confronting the owner with their complaint.
    The individual who called me unethical did so on the basis of the wife telling him I was trying to steal their customers. He did so without knowing all the facts (breach of contract, default, judgment).

    I know in a way this is somewhat of a rant against someone else, but you need to understand some context as to why I said what I did. Most of us are bad at accepting advice from family, maybe you'll take it from me. Been there, Done that, moved on!
     
  2. Armsden&Son

    Armsden&Son LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,357

    Wow, thanks for the story.... I will sure learn from it... I have recieved capital from family but I believe this is different... What type of reel mower was it?
     
  3. gardengnome

    gardengnome LawnSite Member
    Posts: 100

    Actually it is the same thing and possibly worse if you do not have a written agreement to go along with it. Consider what would happen if they need the funds they gave you to pay for e.g. a medical emergency, or to keep their house from going into foreclosure in case they lose their job, or some other reason and what if you do not have that extra money to repay them right then. And what if it is your wife's family you borrowed from, now you force your wife to choose "sides", what will that do to your relationship? Just saying!

    The mower was a 22" Jacobson greensmower, I was using it at no additional charge to pay him (the customer) back so it would be mine. From what I heard, the guy I sold to, broke it, used a regular push mower for a while and then told the customer it was too much work and started using a 48inch walk behind. Though I did not technically sell it to him, neither did he technically buy it, yet he kept it and even tried to sell it.
     
  4. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,145

    Well...

    Every time someone has expressed interest in buying (or acquiring) something from me for which they did not have the money, the simple answer is no, thank you.

    You have to stop and think, if they need money, why won't the bank lend it to them?
    And if the bank thinks they are a bad credit risk, what do you think that means to folks like you and I?
    You think, if the bank believes they would have a hard time collecting, that somehow you or I would have better luck?

    Just saying...


    However...
    Your story illustrates why I don't trust my fellow Lco.
    Why I believe people who call themselves my friend would not hesitate to back stab me, and fast.
    Once again you have to stop and think, it should be me calling them my friend, not them naming themselves as such.
     
  5. gardengnome

    gardengnome LawnSite Member
    Posts: 100

    Karma is a Bi-atch! Just discovered the guy was foreclosed on. Good for me, cause it allowed me to retrieve another piece of property he left behind.
     
  6. jonnyz37

    jonnyz37 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 316

    You were unethical for calling you're old customers. I would be pissed at you as well.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  7. gardengnome

    gardengnome LawnSite Member
    Posts: 100

    So JohnyZ, 8 months ago I cancelled service with DirectTV, to this date I get weekly promos trying to entice me to come back even though I have moved on. So that would be unethical? Any type of advertising you do may reach former customers who have found another service provider, guess you're unethical too.

    It seems you didn't read correctly. I advised them I was reentering the field and they could contact me if they were interested! I did not contact them and asked them to come back. I did not offer any price breaks to sweeten the deal, in fact they may have paid more.
    Let me ask you something JohnnyZ, if you buy a specialized piece of equipment on terms for a customer and a year later
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  8. gardengnome

    gardengnome LawnSite Member
    Posts: 100

    Oops wrong button!
    .. and a year or later they decide to do something different, do you quit paying for the equipment? No, you wouldn't, you would either try to market that service to others or sell the equipment WHILE CONTINUING MAKING PAYMENTS!

    So you want to call me unethical, and that is certainly your right, but perhaps you should clarify your position on breach of contract, filing (personal) bankruptcy to avoid abiding by the terms of a contract, trying to convince the court that the assets were sold to you personally in spite of the fact the contract says otherwise, telling people I am trying to steal customers, having family members spam my FB page with derogatory comments.

    I wrote this individual a letter after all this was done and told him all I have said here and in previous comments, I also told him that had he come to me and told me he could no longer meet the terms of the contract and asked if we could work something out, I would have. He chose different.
     
  9. Nunyabisnes

    Nunyabisnes LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 868

    I'd have to agree with Jonny. Going back into business is all fine after your non-compete, but targeting your old clients is very unethical, especially while the guy is still paying you. I don't blame him at all for stopping payment to you. I'd have done the same thing. Comparing it to a satellite provider is just ridiculous. That's not even close to the same. With friends like you, who needs enemies. You're expecting him to pay you for a business you've basically damaged now and have taken back some of the value that he's financed.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  10. ExmarkFan

    ExmarkFan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 34

    How long was your non-compete structured for? If you really did wait until the agreed upon time had lapsed, you technically did not do anything "wrong" by contacting your old customers, but it is a gray area to say the least (if you did not, then you are 100% in the wrong and that is the definition of unethical).

    If I was a customer, I would think it was a bit slimy personally and not want to be involved in any part of it. They hired a lawn service, didn't sign up to be in the middle of a dispute between 2 lawn guys.
     

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