Every lawn care business owner dreams of the day when they are out working on a property and the fairy god mother of lawn care bids comes down from up high to anoint them with good luck, in the form of the largest opportunity they ever had. Even though this is the dream, the reality of it could become a serious nightmare if it happened. Check out this story from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and see how such opportunities open a can of worms you may not want to deal with.
One new lawn care business owner wrote “I met a guy while picking up some stones for a landscaping job yesterday. He saw my sign on my truck and asked if I mowed lawns for neighborhoods. Of course I told him yes….anyway….. it turns out he is the president of this newly formed HOA, and wants me to submit a bid to mow 109 yards! On top of that he wants me to bid on redoing the entryway to the neighborhood. WOW!
We talked for a long time, and he invited me to do a presentation at the HOA meeting next week. I guess I impressed him, and he kind of implied that he wanted me to do the job. He said it would pay around $141,000 per year.
NOW….. I am a one man band. I have never done more than 8 or 10 yards in one day. I am not sure even where to begin with this and wonder if I even should consider it at all. To take on such a large job I would need to get another truck, double my equipment, and hire a few lawn care employees!
All of that is going to cost a lot of money that I don’t have right now. If I should get this job, and accept it, should I ask for a percentage down so I can get all the lawn care equipment I will need to perform it? Or should I get a loan after I am sure the contract is final?
Any help on any part of this would be much appreciated! This is a huge opportunity, with a lot of money involved that might only come around once in a lifetime and I’d hate to screw it up!!”
A second lawn care business owner said “I can relate! I’m a part-timer and usually mow about 5 - 6 yards a week. I tend to do a lot of clean ups as well. I have several bids out that exceed $10k annually and am getting a little panicky about them.
The problem I have always had is getting the clients. I guess if I can get the clients and now have a service obligation to fill, it will be a new ordeal for me. If a $10k annual bid is making me worried, there is no way, as a solo lawn care business operator that I would even consider one 14 times that size! If I were you, I would take smaller steps to growth and I think you will be a lot happier in the long run that you did.”
A third shared “that is a bit of a tough call for a few reasons. With the size of my company now, I could handle such a job, but wouldn’t even consider it if I hadn’t been in operation for at least a few years prior and let me tell you why!
Where I live, the chances of getting a down payment or payment in advance on commercial lawn care accounts is next to impossible. Only once was I able to pull it off with a developer, however the money was held in trust with my lawyer needing to be involved.
The job in question was to clear new lots. Build driveways, excavate foundations, build septic fields and other landscaping. It’s the only way I could risk doing it as it was 42 lots at $36,000++ each! I had to make a substantial investment in additional equipment to perform the job and that is why we could work out a deal. Even with my lawyer involved, I had to take some time and think about it before signing off on the project because of the concerns I had if something went wrong.
Beyond that, the other concern you should have is putting so many eggs into one basket. If you buy all the gear and it doesn’t work out, then could the lack of work ruin you as you may have invested or borrowed to buy all the new gear?
Are all these accounts close enough that you could just buy mowers, trimmers, blowers etc. drop the crew in the morning, go get your other gear, do your thing and pick the crew up at the end of the day?
Would you even feel comfortable managing such business growth in such a short time? Would you have the necessary infrastructure to hold it all together. From my experience, I would say, don’t grow any larger than 20% a year. If you do, you run the risk of serious growing pains and the potential for business implosion. So think this through.”
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