Need Some Advice...Possible New Customers?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by pfcjs, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. pfcjs

    pfcjs LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    I wanted to ask you guys opinion about a question I have. First off about me, I've always enjoyed mowing and have been helping a guy that has a lot of accounts off and on and before that helped another buddy who had his own business a few years back. Well I finally bought a commercial mower and am going to be doing some lawn care on my own after the request of some of the people in my neighborhood to take care of their yards. Well I am lucky enough to have a job with a schedule that allows me plenty of time to offer lawn services. I have been reading here pretty heavy for the last couple of months because I want to learn how to really take care of a lawn overall as I am also in the process over the last year of totally redoing my own lawn.

    On to my question, there is a guy locally that is selling his business that has approximately 50 accounts and well I obviously don't need his equipment but was wanting to try and get some of his clients. I spoke with him and he wants to keep the whole deal together as a "package" with his clients and his equipment. I know what will happen is some jack leg will buy everything and get his customers and probably do a shoddy job. I actually care about taking care of people's yards and take pride in my work. I was wondering how I can approach him and convince him to please allow me to take over some of his clients and provide them with a service that is good and someone that will actually take care of his customers. He has been with most of them between 5-10 years so I would like to think they are good customers and would like to offer them someone that is dependable and will do quality work.

    What are some of your opinions on how to go about this? Thank you in advance for your thoughts and input!
  2. orangemower

    orangemower LawnSite Silver Member
    from pa
    Messages: 2,768

    How do you know that the person that buys him out will do a crappy job? What makes you think YOU could do a better job then someone that say, has owned and operated a lawn service for 20 years? If he's selling out, why would he split them up, just because you want a few more lawns to cut?
  3. pfcjs

    pfcjs LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    Orangemower, Please do not post in this thread any longer as I am going to add you to my ignore list as some of the other guys that are actually helpful on here have advised me to do.

    For the others reading this, I am not guaranteeing that the next guy will do a shoddy job or suggesting that I am better then the next guy because I am definitely not. It's just after helping out in the lawn service industry, having several friends that own businesses, and reading on here it seems that guys that come around and offer shoddy work only hurt the lawn care industry in the long run.
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Hi, C.J.

    Ok. First off, your response to Orangemower was a little harsh. Maybe I'm missing something. Did he say something to piss you off in another thread? Because if it's just his response to your post here that has you ticked off at him, you really need to get thicker skin. On lawnsite, often people are very frank. Sometimes even rude. But I didn't see Orange's comment as being rude. He was simply asking a question - making a good point. We should all be willing to defend ourselves in an open forum. If someone is calling names or just being a total A-hole, then put them on ignore. But if someone is just asking tough questions, just fire back with some good solid answers. Nothing wrong with a little heated debate. If you're thinking lawnsite is all going to be nice people (like me :waving: ) then you're going to be disappointed. Gotta get a little thicker skin and be prepared for a little criticism. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And as much as any of us hate criticism, it does often change our thinking to consider other people's viewpoints or hear a little criticism. Often, considering what they said can lead us to make positive changes.

    Anyway, on to your initial question.... there are a few ways you could handle this. First, you could just call him and tell him that you're still very interested in the clients and that if he doesn't find a buyer for the whole package to please keep you in mind for at least the customer portion. Make sure he has your name and phone number handy. He may very well not find a buyer for all of it.

    Another option is you could sit down and buy him lunch one day. Say you want to discuss buying the business, without any pretense or conditions. Ask him to bring a little information about the customers and the route so you can see if he has priced them properly, how much drive time there is between clients, how detailed the service is, etc. Ask him to bring some info. or pics of the equipment. Then just get to know him over lunch a little. Ask him about his life and tell him a little about yours. Figure out what things you have in common. Maybe both of you go to church's that have similar beliefs. Maybe both of you played the same sport in high school. Find some things in common and focus on those things for a little bit. It's harder to tell people no when you feel like you know them and have a little connection than it is to just some dude that's calling you on the phone or sending you an email. Ask him what the lowest price is that he's willing to take for everything. Be seriously interested. Then just explain to him at the end, "Well, the thing is; I'm not sure if I can come up with the money to buy everything. I'm looking into some options. But what if I explore all my options and there just isn't a way for me to purchase it all, with the equipment. Would you ever consider selling me just the customers?" Hopefully, by this point you've already shared with him about how passionate you are about doing things right and taking care of your customers. Who knows? Maybe he'll offer you a sweet deal to take it all now with a down payment and make payments over time for the rest. I know a lot of guys who bought businesses that way. If he doesn't make such an offer or he just can't afford to, then what have you lost? Just $30 on lunch and an hour or so of your time. Hopefully you've also learned something from the guy too. And it may be nice to have a relationship with this guy in the future, even if you don't purchase his business. Having a local person you can call on once in a while for advice is a great thing!

    Other than that, I'd say don't stress about it too much. You can build up that many accounts on your own in a year or two, if you are ambitious enough. I did. I had 50 within the first 12 months of owning my business. Of course, part of that was because I just quit my job and went all in. So I sort of HAD to make this work. I had no fall back.

    Good luck to you. I hope it works out. But if not, at least you can maybe learn something.

    Also, you don't have to apologize for thinking you could handle these customers better. We all think we are better than the other guys in this business, don't we? If we thought the others were better than us and we just did average work, that wouldn't be good, would it? Of course you think you could do better! No need to apologize for that! Maybe you're better because you have more hunger, more passion, and can afford to take more time on each account than the guys with more established companies can. Be prepared to defend yourself. Don't run away from your positions so easily. Maybe you don't have as much experience as the guy who's been doing this 20 years. But first of all, there ain't too many out there who been doing this 20 years anyway. Trust me, I know. 90% of the companies who were my competitors 16 years ago when I started are totally gone - out of business. Very few in this industry last 20 years. Chances are, whoever buys those accounts will be a company that has been in business 10 years or less anyway. And while they may have more experience, you have the passion and care more because you need it more. That's what you should have said.

    Good luck, man. I wish you the best.
  5. orangemower

    orangemower LawnSite Silver Member
    from pa
    Messages: 2,768

    Thanks Jim. I'm sure he does a good job but to talk about someone he doesn't even know kinda got to me. He mentioned working a regular job so he can more then likely only handle a few more lawns. He would be better off scouting out and finding them on his own. The guy selling has 50 accounts with his business and the OP obviously can't take on that much more work.
  6. djagusch

    djagusch LawnSite Platinum Member
    from MN
    Messages: 4,358

    A good question came up here, "can you handle all 50 accounts?".

    If so buy the package at a decent deal, walk the accounts to see what equipment you need to complete everything, sell any unneeded or overlapping equipment in spring at peak pricing.

    If you can't handle all the accounts, mention you would be interested in buying into some if he can't sell it as a package. Then move on ball is in his court.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. pfcjs

    pfcjs LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    Jim, Thanks for the PM and the info listed above. The lunch deal is a good idea and I will see if he will go for it. And as far as the thick skin goes, I've definitely got that as I work at the fire department full time, yeah I know "another one of those darn firemen trying to mow"! I just ignored orange because I read some other things he has posted that were off topic and sounded as to just trying to stir sh!t up. So i just blocked him after speaking to a couple of the other guys here outside of the forum that have actually been very helpful.
    I just wanted to ask the question here as to suggestions on how to handle the situation because I wanted to handle it honestly and as ethical as possible. And yes I do have the time and equipment to handle the additional 50 accounts so I am going to try and pursue all 50 and if that doesn't work try to work a deal for some of them, thanks for that angle of thought. So thanks so far for the thoughts guys.
  8. 944own

    944own LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,178

    This is easy if you want him to split it up make it worth it to him. In other words money talks.

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