Biting Off More Than I Can Chew?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Mad Merkin, Oct 10, 2006.

  1. Mad Merkin

    Mad Merkin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    First time poster here. Love the site. Just found it googling around!

    I have the opportunity to purchase and take over an 8 year old lawn maintenance service. The company has great name recognition in the area. The deal would include 37 residential contracts and 3 commercial contracts in place for next season. I have spoken with the guy selling - a current co-worker of mine, and he said that I could handle the workload with myself and one employee. He also said that if I didn't add any contracts that I would be looking at around $400-$500/week income, which to me isn't too shabby for just starting out.

    My question to the pros is am I biting off more than I can chew? I have little prior experience in the field, and am not a landscaping guru at all. My expertise would be in cutting and edging lawns. I am currently employed full-time and would have preferred to start the business small and part-time while still working my "job". But I think this deal on the table is a great opportunity and I would welcome the challenge of taking the current client base and putting my fingerprint on it and building it into something quite bigger.

    I'd welcome any feedback you all have to offer and look forward to getting involved more with the forums.

  2. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,849

    $400 - 500 a week income? I'm hoping you really meant income, not gross sales. however even for 40 accounts that number seems very low for income after all expenses.

    in order to determine the possible profitability we would need to know equipment included (age/hours,) vehicle?, size of accounts, etc.

    Edit, Welcome to Lawnsite too, wear boots, because it gets deep in here.

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    Great name recognition and only 40 accounts????

    Sounds like a good deal to take over buy not to purchase. No way to have an employee to work that few of jobs and if the work only pays 4-500 a week how can you pay someone. He is a co worker so this business is only part time, And he wants out?? This whole deal does not sound right.
    If you want to cut grass look into buying some equipment and doing it yourself
  4. Total.Lawn.Care

    Total.Lawn.Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 840

    I gotta agree!!! Eight years in Bus and only 40 accounts. He should have been much larger by now (if he wanted to). Why is he selling? That would be my first question. I might woudl consider buyign the equipment and takign over the accounts, but no purchase on the accounts without a signed service agreement. Even still, depending on the scheduleing, you should be able to do that may properties (with a helper) in the evenings and weekends and then grow it to leave your job.
  5. Mad Merkin

    Mad Merkin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    I think I may have stated my original comments wrong. The business up through the end of this season is much larger than the accounts I mentioned. However, as he is either selling or closing entirely he only has the number I referenced lined up for next season at this time. I re-read my post and what I should have put was that I would be purchasing the equipment and he would be giving me the contracts. What he has available are 3 commercial walk behind mowers (2 w/ 52" decks and not sure of the other), 2 trailers (1 enclosed, 1 open), and various tools and equipment, along with all the software he uses. I supply the truck.

    The income projection he gave me was based after all expenses and after that 1 employee's salary would be paid.
  6. Down2EarthLawns

    Down2EarthLawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 191

    Honestly, 40 accounts seems like a little much to jump right into. I doubt if it can really be done part-time with good service to your customers. Starting my own company, I want my customers to feel a nd know that they are important to me. I am choosing to start on a smaller, profitable, customer base that can grow with my expertise.

    Also, $400-500/wk. seems a little low. I know that YOU are just starting out, but you are talking about an existing business that should be profitable. I would be questioning the quality of accounts. Don't ever take someone's word for it when it comes to buying their accounts. Even if they are a friend. Business is business. Ask for proof of expenses/gross income. And I would want to meet all of my potential clients BEFORE I buy anything.:)
  7. Tn Lawn Man

    Tn Lawn Man LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 479

    If you are keeping your other 40hr+ job then I would say 40 accounts is biting off more than your can chew.

    However, if you are quiting your other job and plan on doing this full time then 40 accounts is not enough.

    To further help you we need to know:

    How old is the equipment? How many hours are on the mowers? And, most important, how much is he asking for the business?
  8. mslawn

    mslawn LawnSite Senior Member
    from LA
    Messages: 483

    Give him fair market value for the equipment and get started. What alot of people fail to realize is the cost of advertising. You can grow the business from here. With an employee and that small of # of accounts that net of 400-500 per week is probably about right or even a little high, that is about 30% of 1600.00 (40 small accounts? x 40.00 = 1600.00). If they are small accounts also consider not even hiring an employee until you get this rolling and add more customers. That will certainly increase your bottom line.
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Without any prior business experience, that is the best answer imo...
    Otherwise you're just asking for it, there are no guarantees in this world, whether 40 acct's or 4,000, you could be down and out by July or August with no experience, man, I wouldn't sink more into it than what the equipment is worth.

    And don't plan on cutting every account every week, surely you've put your hipboots on by now?
  10. TNT LawnCare Inc.

    TNT LawnCare Inc. LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,157

    Working a full time job 37 residentials and three commercials will probably be way to much for you alone. As others have state you better think this over,come late july you'll be beggin for winter. How old is the equipmnet if its as old as the business get your own,no kidding !!

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