Passing a lawn care business from father to son.

It’s many an entrepreneurs dream to build up a business that they can pass on to their children when they want to retire. But what is the best way to do this without losing your customers? That is a question asked on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and it brought out a lot of great insights as to how to do this.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I’ve been around the business for over 10 years now. The company I work for is my father’s business and I’ve worked with him off and on for a long time, depending on other employment I had at the time. A few months ago he offered me a partnership after I got fired from my 9-5 job. So far I’ve been working with him and most of his lawn care customers see me every week when we’re working. I’ve even been able to start a dialogue with some of them when they were outside.

My dad is just about ready to retire and I’m more than willing to take over but is there anything we can do to help customers with this change? A lot of them already see and trust me, but he’s still completely dealing with the billing, etc. I don’t plan on changing their rates or anything drastic. It’ll just be a different guy out there helping instead of my dad.

Should we bring in the new guy while my dad is still there? Leave a letter explaining the new ownership? I don’t want to scare off the customers is what I’m saying. Sometimes change scares people off. Any suggestions are appreciated!”

A second business owner said “it seems to me that if your dad is satisfying the customers, they will trust you to satisfy them.

As far as change, I’d think they’d be more nervous of change by changing service companies. After all, you’d just be carrying on with your dad’s tradition. As long as you don’t start doing things drastically different, at least right away, you should be fine.

There will probably be a few things you will want to change in the future and you may lose a few customers because of it but as long as those changes have a positive impact on your service you shouldn’t have many problems. Just ease into them slowly and communicate with your customers. Most don’t care about your methods as long as you get good results. Maybe let them know that you will be consulting with dad, from time to time, as to any problems which may occur. Good luck with it all, I am sure you’ll be fine.”

A third said “from the sound of it all, it seems to me like this won’t be much of an issue.

Is your dad going to move from full-time to zero-time all at once? You might think about hiring him as a ‘consultant’ for three months or so to help in the transition. During this transition, gradually take more authority in dealing with customers. A gradual transition will be much less disruptive to your customers.”

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