You have probably heard the word synergy before. It means the value of the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. This holds true in many uses except potentially for this one. A lawn care business owner asked on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum if he should consider partnering up with his step dad’s company. He wrote “I am in the process of starting my lawn care business. I have 5 accounts right now, so I am barely getting my feet wet with this. I just talked to my step dad, who is in the process of starting a pest control company. I think he has about 30 accounts.
Anyway he said he is talking to the phone book salesperson in a few days and was asking if he listed lawn care in his ad if I would want to take the work as a subcontractor. Is this something you guys think I should mess with.
Does anyone have any experience doing subcontract work for other people.
Or do you think I should talk to my step dad about making our two companies into just one general service company. Any suggestions?”
At first glance, you might think it would be a great idea for him to partner up with his step dad and have a larger company, but look at what some of these other business owners had to say. One responded “well there is nothing wrong with being a sub-contractor or subbing out work yourself. However being family, what about if he just sent you the leads. If you are trying to get out for yourself. I wouldn’t combine companies. You may be asking for more headaches in the future by doing that.”
I agree. It is so much easier to keep them separate. This way you both can experiment and see what works best for each of you. Later you could always merge the two companies if you wanted. But you may find you like being captain of your own ship.
Another suggested “I agree, keep them separate. Over the past several months we have on several occasions discussed partnerships and it seems each time the partnerships tended to bring lots of problems. Now on the other hand, I believe that subbing work to each other should be a relatively safe venture. As a business owner, you have the responsibility to make sure you give your work to a honest and reputable contractor. I am guessing you trust your step dad well enough that you feel comfortable with that and if that is the case, stick with him. When subbing to other contractors both of you have the responsibility to make yourselves and each other look good. What you do reflects on yourself and his company and vice-versa.
Hopefully he can help you along with business tips (if needed) and perhaps the day will come where you will buy him out or whatever you all choose.”
A third lawn care business owner shared “keep it separate. I recently sold a business and went through this same sort of thing. I had a family member approach me and wanted to invest 200K into a local company and wanted my recommendation. I didn’t give one but eventually that family member said they wanted to invest it in me. My business was doing well and my ideas were money makers. I researched this in depth and after talking to many people and reading many resources I decided to turn down the investment.
Look at it this way. I am not saying you will do bad work but we all deal with nit picking people that want everything for nothing. Lets say you get some of these nit picking people subbed to you from your father. They called him for a service and he tossed it to you but they call and complain to him if they have a problem. I hate it when I buy something and have a problem and the store tells me to contact the manufacturer “No I gave you my money so you fix it, that’s how I see it.
Will it cause hard feels between your father and you if he gets his phone ringing day and night from a nit picking person? In the long run it may get you a little more work but its not worth the problems it can cause with family.”
In the end he came to a decision and said “I think we will just refer business to each other. I will do his lawn and landscape work and he do all my chemical work, for the time being.”