The downsides to buying a landscaping business.

Starting a landscaping business can be a real pain in the butt. If you are starting from scratch, it can seem like forever until you get a decent amount of customers. So maybe you have considered buying an existing landscaping business. What could go wrong though? What things do you need to keep an eye out for?

Well I got a chance to talk with a retired police officer who decided to buy an existing landscaping business and he shared some of the big issues he had to deal with on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. It wasn’t easy as he thought it would be. The existing business came along with existing problems he was initially unaware of and as he investigates, he finds more.

He wrote “I have been running my own lawn care business now for the last two years.
I am a retired police officer who sadly left the force after 14 year due to health problems and now I’m having a fantastic time running my own companies but it didn’t come easy or cheaply.

Things had been slow going at first and in order to grow my business I decided to look about for a landscaping company to buy and merge into my own. So about 10 days ago, I purchased a small existing landscaping business. I did it on the suggestion of a business broker who had been guiding me on a purchase of another business, which fell through. He said that the landscaping industry is very steady and gave a good opportunity to grow. I know nothing about landscaping as I had only focused on mowing thus far so I have my work cut out.

With the business purchase, I’ve inherited a three-man crew, pickup, three trailers and all the equipment necessary. The seller is helping me get up to speed. The foreman of the crew has been servicing the area for nine years and knows the homeowners very well. So well, in fact, that within a few days, I had already caught him taking money from them for ‘extra services’ and identified a couple of phantom customers (homeowners) who didn’t appear on the list provided by the seller, yet the foreman had been serving and collecting money from.

Before trying to grow the biz, I figure that I have to learn it first, and consolidate the clients that I have. The most immediate problem seems to be scheduling. The seller has his own scheduling system that was a disaster. It basically was a combination of Word files that he updates to do the scheduling. It seems very confusing and relies mightily on personally knowing each and every customer and their yard.

As the season heats up, everything seems to grow faster and I am having a very difficult time trying to keep up. It also seems that every other truck on the road here is a landscaping company. Sure homeowners in my area spend millions and millions of dollars on this industry so I know there is plenty of money to be made. However right now I’m just trying to figure how to handle it all before it implodes.

My advise to you is grow slow and be wary about taking on more than you can chew.”

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The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show Episode Guide.
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