Business Partner Gave Up

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

  1. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,725

    Send you ex partner up here I have been looking for someone worthy of being chained in my basement that I could taunt when I'm having a bad week.:laugh:
  2. Arvydas

    Arvydas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 57

    Wow, that sounds like it was an insane situation! Good luck with everything.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. southerncomfortlc

    southerncomfortlc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    All of your points are valid. Why did i not pick up the slack seems to be the basic question. I should have clarified our partnership was never 50/50 because as mentioned he owned the equipment so in effect he was the owner. I was a partner in that i helped in decision making, pricing, and every aspect of the business minus the major start up costs. Why did I not call the customers? Well for starters he was very unreliable so at best I could call a customer apologize for being behind on their work (or what ever the issue), and give them a date that we would come out. I guess that sounds good in theory but he problem was I could give them a date and my "partner" may or may not be willing to work on that day. At that point i felt like i was attaching my name to a big group of unethical business practices that i did not want to be known for. I could have gotten all of the contact info, i could have pushed harder for him to deliver work that met my expectations, i could have pushed harder for a lot of things but i did not. Why i chose not to was simply a result of my realization that if i had to handle everything there was no point in having him as a partner despite the fact he owned all the equipment. In my mind it did not matter whether he owned a huge landscaping franchise, or a small start up it would have failed with his practices. This is not to say i did not try, as i did try to get him to realize why what he was doing sucked he just never got it. In effect, trying to handle everything would have only attached my name to bad work that would have been lost regardless. The only difference would have been in losing that work my name would have been more closely associated with his, and i could not be able to come in and grab the customers I have managed to save. The customers that i have that me and him had are universal in there disdain for him, but i seperated myself enough, at least in their minds that they were willing to give me a shot. If someone asks me if i regret not trying harder to handle every aspect of business my answer is a simple no. We did lose a lot of money / clients but i could not have done enough to counter act his destructive behavior to change that. If i had succeeded in hanging onto a few customers with him i have no doubt it would have been short lived. If i had somehow miraculously successfully counter acted him I would have to split money with a useless partner. As for picking up clients im not sure what the objection is. I understand that they may have been used to their current LCO, but if he is getting out of business they will need a new guy regardless so it may as well be me that profits from it. The guy that moved out of state did not hand me contracts but he simply convinced his customer base to try me out, and as it turns out they have liked me. As a result of me meeting there expectations they are now on a contract with me. If you were by chance refering to me picking up customers that me, and my former partner had I have no issue with that as he quit so once again i may as well profit from it.
  4. southerncomfortlc

    southerncomfortlc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    He kicked my butt at labor in certain aspects (speed, industry knowledge) but he did not utilize his potential nor did he value quality (he would brag about weed eating a job in 5 minutes despite missing half of what needed to be done) . I have no doubt that he could in theory be better at least at the moment at anything landscape related but all that ability with no motivation / vision was virtually useless. Our personalities certainly clashed but in my mind it was because i saw the value of quality, long term relationships, good reviews, etc. I am not saying i am perfect of without fault but i feel i have more of a mind for business. Initially i thought my mind for business combined with his industry knowledge would work but as the owner he tried to assume responsibility / control of all business aspects. As for communication i felt like i communicated pretty well as i always voiced my opinion despite often angering him but at the end of the day he felt he was the one that needed to call all the shots. In his mind it was his business, and he needed to be in control of it. I would give him advice but if he chose not to listen it was not like i could let him go, or work without him ( at least not right away)
  5. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 8,935

    The ONLY wrong thing you did is going in business with this person. Even then, you couldn't have known that he didn't know how to run a business. Live and learn and move forward. You learned that partnering is very risky business. Would have been good if you had searched Lawnsite before Partnering with anybody. You would have been better aware of the risk. That is the great thing about this site. You read about people who have been there and done that. Now members will read about your experience and hopefully learn about going into business with someone.
    One of the worst things your former partner was doing is treating most of the income as profit. Just as terrible was taking money and not doing the work. Then there was the 3 week delay after it rained. I don't think it would have helped to call the customers. Not many, if any. would tolerate a 3 week delay. With a partner, you really lose control of your own destiny. I wouldn't like that aspect of it. I would have to have an attorney written agreement with the Partner
  6. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    One thing I learned this year more than ever is their has to be clearly defined roles written when two or more people are involved weather it is a partner or an employee.
  7. gcbailey

    gcbailey LawnSite Silver Member
    from WV
    Messages: 2,755

    One reason I have never thought about a partnership is because of this belief... It takes years to build up a good name/reputation and it can be destroyed in minutes. I don't need the help of anyone else doing that for me.
  8. JContracting

    JContracting LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,878

    You definitely lived and learned! I had a similar situation last spring (2012). A very good friend of mine (at the time) came up with the idea to partner up (started a separate entity thankfully) as he (his dad owned it) had the equipment which was a crappy dump trailer and a John Deere skid (which we never actually used) as well as a newer Cummins (I didn't have my truck at that point yet). But I had my 1 wb mower and handhelds. The main thing was that he had the equipment and I had the business knowledge. We made a pretty good amount of money together as well as both working for an underground directional drilling company (I was a laborer and he ran a drill) and then we worked on the weekends, we did a decent sized patio and a few clean ups as well as a couple smaller installs, totaling around $11,000 in the first month or so and like your partner, after we deposited checks, he had no business knowledge whatsoever it seemed and would treat income as a personal paycheck. I didn't like that at all. So in May (I bought my truck the first Friday in May), we were working out of town for the directional drilling company with 2 other guys for our 4 man crew and apparently I didn't "get with the program" quickly enough and he was mad at me yet I had only been working there for a month.

    It was at that time that he basically stopped talking to me and we ended the partnership. Thankfully he had zero contact information with the clients so I was able to salvage that and had a decent year considering all that went down and most clients that we had are still with me this season with the exception of a few that couldn't afford them anymore. We went our separate ways until this past March when we were able to meet with my CPA to get the taxes filed. We haven't talked since except when he texted me in April complimenting my new truck graphics I had installed.

    The only thing I was bummed out about was that being as we were such good friends before, my entire group of friends were also friends with him and they sided with him through the whole thing and I was left in the dust. I was pretty angry at that but thinking back, I am much better off without them in my life. My former partner still works for that drilling company and maybe makes $20/hr but that's about as much as he can make doing that. The rest of that group are in similar positions with jobs, less than $20/hr, 95% of them smoke cigs and are generally just trashy rednecks that drink all the time which isn't fun after a while and now I wonder why I even thought they were my friends and why I even hung out with them to begin with! At get-togethers/parties and everyone was drinking, they'd all have to talk out their a$$es about how much money they're making from "this job" or how much they've spent on stuff when in reality, they hardly make any money therefore their parents are still giving them money and they act as if they're millionaires which I think is hilarious.

    And one more thing about my former partner was that he tried starting a lawn/landscape/snow company after we grad'd high school (2009), he put out about 100 crappy fliers made with MSFT Word into the newspaper boxes and landed 3 small mowing properties with one of them being his aunt and then went and constantly said "there's no money in it". The same with plowing, long story short, he had a head on accident one day in the fall & got it repaired, that winter, he was a sub for a bigger company around here, so he made maybe $60/hr with his $25,000 diesel w/ 9'2" Boss V and skid loader which brought in $70/hr, on the way home from the first storm, his drive shaft broke he got it towed and fixed up. That winter (2011-2012) we had hardly any snow the entire season and plowing was his only income at the time and as an hourly sub, he made nothing, so his stance on plowing was also "there's no money in it".

    Another similarity with my former partner and yours, mine never answered his phone, at all!!! He would hardly even answer texts or calls from friends.

    He also did not value the work in the office (ie. time spent on quotes, even using my Quickbooks software, etc.) and thought he should get more of the profit because it was "his" equipment doing the work! I was astounded when he said it.

    I also got word from one friend that was somewhat apart of that group but wasn't an a$$ and still talks to me here and there who had told me that my former partner's gf broke up with him for being an a$$hole, I hear that and thought "Yes! Finally she opened her eyes!" because he was a womanizing type and treated all girls like objects to say the least, however the last I heard they're back together but w.e., that's a totally different subject.

    Rant over, glad I got that off my chest. I'm not sure if my former partner has seen my truck since I bought new rims as well as a brand new enclosed trailer & brand new Lazer but I'm sure he hates me even more now to see that I'm greatly succeeding in what he failed miserably at and what was his dream in high school. It feels good to have people hate on you for being successful :D
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  9. southerncomfortlc

    southerncomfortlc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    You are correct, and I hope my post can help others considering venturing into a partnership. It is certainly risky, and it can destroy long standing friendships. I was somewhat aware of the risks prior to partnering up with him but i think in order to fully understand them you have to see how bad a partnership can turn out first hand. I was hesitant going into business with him but he had just dropped a large amount of money on equipment, just bought a house, and was getting married soon so i figured with lawn care being his only source of income he even more then me would find a way to make it succeed. Instead he seemed to find every way possible to sink it. I think my take away point from this is never venture into a partnership assuming that just because someone has more to loose then you that they will be as motivated as they should be. Also, when considering venturing into a partnership look at previous behaviors of said potential partner they are telling. Looking back on some behaviors of my former partner signs were there, subtle but they were there.
  10. southerncomfortlc

    southerncomfortlc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    Your experience is painfully similar to mine. I am glad you have found a way to make the best out of a bad situation, and I admire your success. I hope that down the road I can achieve a similar level of success in my lawn care business.

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