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We Made a BIG Decision over Christmas

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by naturescaretaker, Dec 27, 2004.

  1. naturescaretaker

    naturescaretaker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 851

    Greetings all,

    This Christmas my family and I have been struggling with an issue. On the 17th of December I received an unsolicited offer to buy our business. I had to admit I was shocked when the attorney contacted me. At first I told him no way. He suggested that I take some time to think about it. I agreed.

    I spoke to my wife about it and she was feeling the same as me. We built this from the ground up with sweat equity. Coming into the end of this year we won a couple of 3 year contracts with the county and school system. It seems this is what got the buyers attention.

    What we realized is that we are working 60+ hours a week and don’t have a lot of freedom to do what we want. So we started really looking at this offer to see if it made sense to us. We started doing the “what if” thing.

    What if we turned down the offer:

    • Continue to work 60 hours a week
    • Employee headaches
    • Lack of freedom to spend time together with family
    • Stress of running a larger operation
    • More income potential

    What if we sold:

    • Pay off all bills and be debt free
    • Time to do what we wanted
    • Hunt for new job (job = just over broke)
    • No stress from owning a business
    • Income?

    There was much more in our lists in each category. We spent most of Christmas Eve talking about it while playing elf’s for the kids. The company making the offer is a well established landscape business. I can not release the name… sorry. They are about the same size and the two companies do fit together well. The big difference is that we are much more efficient in our operations thus more profitable. Whether that can be maintained will be up to the new managers.

    We did make a counter offer and faxed it to them on Christmas Day. We upped the offer quite a bit (by a $100K) and changed the terms. We re-wrote the non-compete clause and kept one truck and a trailer full of equipment. Additionally, I wanted to hand pick 30 residential accounts, ones that had been with me for years. I also wanted to keep the company name, website, etc. The final item was a guarantee for 24 months for the employees. So basically we sold customers and equipment. I faxed the counter offer back to them late on Christmas day.

    On Sunday evening I got a fax accepting the terms. After struggling with this for several days we decided to sell because the kids have no interest in working in the business and we wanted more time to do the things we wanted to do.

    So with the stroke of the pen on Wednesday I will once again become a solo operator. This time all of the equipment is paid for as well as my house I just bought in Feb of this year and all 4 kids college educations are paid for. We will be debt free! What a feeling. Get this….. we’ll still have $$$ left over for a rainy day! It is a funny feeling but also a good one. I sat down with everyone that works for us and they are supportive of the idea.

    What am I really getting? I am getting “Free Time” back that will allow me to do what I want to do and when. I still am in the industry that I love and with 30 loyal customers whom I have a long standing relationship with. This was a very hard decision. What it came down to what not the $$$ although that had a major impact. What it had to do with is why I originally decided to do this full time. I wanted some freedom to do what I wanted to do and when.
  2. northmichigan

    northmichigan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 133

    IMHO i think you scored a sweeethart of a deal. the headaches are gone along with the bills. i have a landscape biz like your new one in the sense that all my customers are long standing accounts.i call them my fan club and never try to piss off any fans.it really means you can deliver top quality work to those who appreciate it and enjoy life.
  3. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,563

    guess you'll be able to enjoy all those golf courses there now..
    i'll have to come down and try a few of them out with you this spring.

    what a sweet deal. loads of stress were just washed away.
  4. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    Congrats!! You have been in this business long enough to earn this. I hope everything works out well. Happy New Year!
  5. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    Congratulations. I too am planning a change in a few years. I am still up in the air on what to do with my customer list. It is, for the most part, a very good list comprising some of the nicest and largest watefront properties in my area. The potential to upsell a considerable portion of my customers on additional services is great since I only do the mow, blow and go for 95% of them.

    Do I try to sell the list or just let them go?
  6. s and s mowing

    s and s mowing LawnSite Member
    from ky
    Posts: 241

    congrats greenscapes,sounds as if you have it made now.enjoy it and happy holidays.
  7. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Posts: 4,041

    Hi CoastalGreenscapes,

    Good for you. What ever you do, you have to be happy or what's the point. :)
  8. naturescaretaker

    naturescaretaker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 851

    Your customer base is always worth something. I guess it all depends on the area. What made ours so valuable was the 3 new contracts that we signed in December of this year.

    They are also getting a lot of equipment too. I have seen formulas on the value of the lists. What it boils down to is what someone is willing to pay for it and what you are willing to take.
  9. T Edwards

    T Edwards LawnSite Member
    Posts: 230

    You are now completing the cycle of the "American Dream". You started with an idea, worked at it hard for years, and cashed out while on top. What a feeling !! In '99 I sold my UPS/FedEx stores and became completely solvent. No employees + no bills = a good life. There's a LOT to be said for living at your own desired pace. I know you and your family will become closer and when it is all said and done that's all we really have, anyway. Congratulations on completing the cycle.
  10. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Posts: 3,010

    COASTAL--I think you have just done what many people here would dream of doing! good move!

    GEO :)

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