What would you do if you received a phone call from a local landscaping company and they offered to give you all their lawn care customers? Would you find this to be a curse or a blessing? At first glance it may seem like a fantastic opportunity to jump on, however there are many issues to consider. This is a situation a member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum was facing when he wrote us about it. How much growth is helpful and how much is too much?
He wrote “I just got a call from another landscaping company in town who has been doing yard care as well as landscaping. He wanted to know if I would be interested in taking on his yard care clients as he has decided to concentrate on landscaping only. He is willing to turn them over to me, however I am not in the position of being able to handle them all. It would increase my client base by 200%, which would require hiring guys. The extra work would be awesome, but here are my issues.
- Hiring guys might mean a constant rotation of employees. There have been a few lawn care businesses I have heard comment that they have trouble maintaining employees. I am not sure if the reward is worth the headache.
- Secondly, I have built my business on quality. In the years I have been operating, I have gotten the reputation of being the company in town that does some of the best work. Not being able to be totally hands on might cause issues with the quality of workmanship.
- This could be a big break for me and be a chance to build on what I have started. It could turn into me being able to take some more time off once the new employees know what and how I want things done.
I have to add that I also find this somewhat scary. Too many lawn care companies have grown too big too fast and in the end it ruins them.”
This is a very interesting topic. In the past, on the forum we have talked about how 20% growth each year is a ceiling you shouldn’t go above. Can you add enough customers to hit that mark and no more?
How many customers would you ideally like to add now and still feel comfortable with your growth? What’s your current workload and workforce?
One other thing to keep in mind is, adding employees is no guarantee you will be able to take some time off. Managing your staff to ensure quality and performance will no doubt, take more time than you initially thought.
“I’ve been handling 27 clients to date by myself. This other landscaping business owner is offering me 47 new lawn care customers. We didn’t discuss whether I was buying them, he basically wanted to know if I would be interested in taking them on. I got the impression he just wanted to make sure they were going to have someone looking after them, so I would guess they were free.
I think this is why it can be scary. I have had some growth this year already. I have been wanting to pick up about 5 more clients in addition to the new ones I got this spring already. He however wants to make sure this group of 47 would be looked after. I’m hesitant to even take a few more additional ones on. I guess it would depend on what he was charging them and if I could find enough help to make it pay.
Realistically, I was very happy with the growth that I had already achieved and wasn’t looking to take on any more customers. I can understand him not wanting to leave his clients in a bind, I would feel the same way, but this may be way too much growth for me.”
Maybe the best way to go about this would be to contact him, express to him your concerns and see what kind of deal you can work out.
“That’s exactly what I did. I chatted with him tonight and told him I would take on one group of his clients, 13 in total and all in one location. After some discussion, he told me what he was charging them and I can live with it for the summer. I might raise the rates next year just to get a slightly higher profit margin. I figure I can handle them with just one additional employee and basically these customers will pay his wages for the summer season.”
Two months later he wrote “the 13 lawn care customers I had agreed to take on did not happen. A new guy in town came along and scooped them up before I was given their names. From what the other company told me, he offered them a lower price. I have seen his work since and let’s just say “you get what you pay for.”
I have picked up several new clients from that company as he has been referring them to me. It has worked out reasonably well. I am still increasing clients but at a slower rate which is more in my comfort zone.
The employee is working out reasonably well, but I am finding I have to constantly remind him of little things now and again. He fixes them and things go well for a few weeks then he starts getting sloppy again. I figure this is just standard employee management.”
Lawn care business growth of 200%, a blessing or a curse? - GopherHaul 60 Lawn Care Forum Podcast
Lawn care business growth of 200%, a blessing or a curse? - GopherHaul 60 Lawn Care Forum Show