Business Partner Gave Up

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by southerncomfortlc, Oct 12, 2013.

  1. southerncomfortlc

    southerncomfortlc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    For the past few month's it seems I have been stuck between a rock, and a hard place. I decided to go into business with a guy I knew who had worked as a foremen at several large landscaping customers as I felt he would have valuable insight into the industry. I was not wrong in that aspect as i learned several valuable skills from him over the last 7 months, and I also learned a lot of what not to do. We were doing great for our first year IMO as at first we quickly landed $3,000 a month in residential customer revenue, in addition to what ended up being $3,500 a month in revenue from a large customer. Add to that that we were averaging at least $2,000 a month in profits from landscaping work. All seemed to be going well considering we are both in our early twenties. Me and said business partner quickly stopped getting along. Our first major issue was that he failed to see the importance of saving customers phone numbers, secondly for what ever reason he would not answer any numbers he did not recognize on his BUSINESS PHONE. Also, for our largest customer he would keep trying to bill him for mowing completely wooded lots that he owner (he did this at least 10 times in a row, and would always get pissed when the bill we turned in came back short) Also he seemed to have the bad habit of not setting a budget but rather he saw every payment given to the business as a personal pay check. Our business acount never had any money in it because he felt he needed every penny he could get regardless of whether he would have any money left for taxes at the end of the year. Then one week we had excessive rain fall, and he did not feel the need to call any customers because according to him they should figure it out. That would not have been so bad i guess if in the following week of all sunshine he had you know ummm caught up the properties... Well 3 weeks after we were supposed to mow said properties we lost $2,700 in residential customers. So at that point we were down to a mere 1 $300 a month customer. At this point my business "partner" had the revelation that he could no longer mow grass because there was no money in it:hammerhead: His solution to his money trouble was to go out, leave the business, leave our $3,500 a month client high and dry and go on to be unemployed. Upon leaving the business he now works 2 days a week for roughly 16-24 hours for $10 an hour under the table because he was umm not making enough money before? keep in mind this guy is not some kid who lives at home, rather he has his own place and just got married. Im sure at this point many of you are thinking "why didn't you stop his behavior, you were his partner" well i was but i wasn't. He had bought all the equipment, truck, etc so it was essentially his business, and on paper it was his business (thank god). My say so was limited to say the least, i was brought on to simply help him manage / market the business. I did great with the marketing but no managing could be done because he was completely unwilling to set a budget etc... Well since he gave up I have managed to save the relationship with our largest client, in addition i have a good friend who owners a small, but successful LCO and is moving out of state. he has 20 customers within a tight radius of one another that total around $5,000 a month in revenue... i feel it is worth mentioning that me, and former business partner could have gotten these customers months ago but because my brilliant former business partner kept "forgeting" to call about these customers we never did. Also, my former "partner" managed to go to a customers home, collect a check for a month of lawn service, and then forget to perform said service. At first I felt bad about this because i felt responsible for screwing this guy over. I came to the conclusion that because I never saw a dime from the money collected, nor was i even aware it was collected that i have no guilt. With that being said I did personally pay said customer back with interest even though I never stole the money in the first place. I now have our former largest customer, and the new contracts, and i am having great luck finding landscaping projects late in the season. Sadly these things will do me little good right now as it is so late in the season but I have managed to scrape together enough money to buy a truck, and i worked out a deal to rent to own a lawn care set up for dirt cheap so i should be in a decent place next year. At the moment i feel newly motivated but one thing is for sure, this guy will never touch my business. He shot his/ours down, i am back under a new name with new ambitions. He has since called me with laughable plans about how we will get back into the business next year in another area (I guess he thinks customers in other areas will tolerate his crap?) I am not sure what will happen with my fledgling business venture as i am short on capital (but making it work), a full time student, and have another full time job but i am determined to make this work. I now have new company uniforms on order, new marketing materials, and enough equipment that i scraped together to make a go at this.

    Sorry for the rant, but this is the first day in months that I have felt not terrible about my situation as i have finally found a way to bounce back. I will do it, its just a matter of how long it takes to get there.
  2. zturncutter

    zturncutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,308

    Had a partner the first 5 years I was in business, best thing he ever did for me and my family was quit. I have ran a successful business now for 22 years. You will do fine, just keep your head down and keep working and learning.
  3. RodneyK

    RodneyK LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 784

    Way to hang in there! Best of luck to you.
  4. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    Lesson learned. Same mistakes and trust or lack there of never to return?. Make a copy of your thread and laminate it. Take it out every Monday and read it, be thankful you still have the brains and confidence for Past history not to become current history again. You will over come and succeed, in spite of adverse conditions.
    easy-lift guy

    Messages: 1,343

    Partners are not a bad thing , just something at times you have to work with. I don't have a partner in landscaping but I do have a partner in a few real estate rental units. It works great, he is responsible for bookkeeping and I do all repairs, he is the good guy and I am the bad guy. It works well.
    Sounds like your on it!
    Get out of bed, put your boots on and go to work, you will be successful.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. jsslawncare

    jsslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,673

    Sounds like you have a plan for next year. Move forward and move on.
  7. ringahding

    ringahding LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 611

    Your partner situation could have simply been miscommunication. Usually there are roles each partner brings to the table. Sounds like you had more of the customer relation aspect, and your partner had the labor aspect.

    Not suggesting you did not bring the labor aspect, but i do not think enough time with an open line of communication transpired. Let's face it, most partnerships fail, usually because personalities clash...just like romantic relationships you must discuss what is best.
  8. MasScape

    MasScape LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 258

    If you need any equipment... keep in mind winter is a great time to buy for pennys on the dollar.

    Also build at a good pace but not too fast so it gets out of control. Just like you saw, you can get a great start but if you mismanage then you can be right back where you started or worse off.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. gcbailey

    gcbailey LawnSite Silver Member
    from WV
    Messages: 2,755

    I've never made it a point to go out and try to get customers from another LCO. I just don't believe in it. I know that I wouldn't want to be done that way. However, if a someone's client comes up to me, I will listen. Over the years we have picked up dozens of clients simply due to one thing... They never could stay in contact with their LCO and they were unreliable. One of the MOST important things you can do starting out is make sure you get your clients contact info. Whether it's phone, text, email, whatever. Let them know what day they should normally expect you. ALWAYS keep in touch with your clients before, during, and after the season.

    I'm not fussing or being critical, but if you knew your partner wasn't getting phone numbers or keeping in touch, why weren't you picking up the slack and keeping in touch? Don't expect a business to be 50/50. I have hardly ever saw any type service oriented business ran that way.

    At least it seems like you've made it through the season.
  10. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,643

    I have never understood the "partner thing", move on and build a nice business for yourself

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