There is nothing like the feeling of running your own business and being an entrepreneur. You are in charge! You are calling the shots! It’s up to you to make it work! But sometimes, the realities of it are that you get burnt out. You take on too many responsibilities. You don’t delegate enough to others. The mounting weight and pressure can ultimately collapse ontop of you and then you may consider the thought of selling your lawn care business. But as we will see in this discussion, before you do it, you better think hard about it. The answer may not be in selling your business but in finding better ways to manage it so you find the love again for running your business. If we don’t wake up everyday feeling pumped about the new day and our business, something is wrong.
A member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum wrote “After the terror attacks on the World Trade center on 9/11, I lost my job and decided NOT to go back to corporate America. I started a lawn care business from nothing and worked it well. It was primarily focused on servicing residential accounts. At one time I had 50 accounts. But I had problems hiring good people. So I then decided to trim the fat and the headache customers and keep it to a managebable 30 lawn care accounts. But these lawn care accounts wanted everything all year round, so that was good.
I loved the lawn care business, the people, the flexability, and my time. I also coached at the local high school. Life was great, but it became physically exhausting. That is when I made a huge mistake of selling it. I sold my lawn care business to a local competitor who ended up pissing off half the customer base almost immediately and lost the accounts.
Now I find myself back where I started after finding myself unemployed yet again. But I will learn from my past mistakes. I am starting a new lawn care business with neighbor accounts who want me back and plan to go full throttle into the new year. My business motto is simple, bust your *** for people. Make smart purchase decisions, be professional, courteous and try to be everything to each landscaping account. Offer other stuff in between your schedule and by doing this the customer will come to know, love and respect you.”
Can you tell us a little about why you initially decided to sell your business and why you wanted to get back in again? Do you have any advice for others who might find themselves in that spot you found yourself in as you considered selling it?
“I sold everything the first time around because I was offered an opportunity to run operations (desk/office job for a small company). It was local, I had a flexible work schedule and I was just too tired….physically from doing all the lawn care work. My child was getting older and I didn’t need to be so close to home all the time and play the part of Mr. Mom who ran his own business! I was also able to continue to coach part-time which is also a passion.
Why am I going back? A lot of my old lawn care customers inquired as to what I was doing. The guy who purchased the landscaping business lost most of the accounts. I’m now unemployed and I enjoy being my own boss. I feel like I am good at it and I truly enjoy caring for a persons’ most prized asset, their home.
What advice do I have for others? Be very careful who you sell your lawn care business to. I tried to do it right. I knew the owner and his sons. I explained everything to them and let the customers know in writing and face to face. But in the end, the bottom line comes down to, the lawn care business is all about relationships and people are not always as they seem. I established good relationships with my lawn care customers and the guy who purchased my lawn care business just didn’t care about them in the end.”
If a lawn care business owner were looking to buy a customer base from another lawn care business, what advice do you have that would lead to success? What pitfalls should they be careful of?
“Don’t buy lawn accounts from anyone else. They’ll never take care of the accounts the way you do and customer retention is extremely difficult. I sold to a guy who’s been in business for 20+ years, so why didn’t he just grow himself? This should have been a sign to him that something was wrong in the way he operated his business.
If you end up purchasing a landscape account list, do your due diligence. Make sure you get to know the customer, likes, dislikes, walk the properties, review prior billing, and all that.”