The Entrepreneur / Business Owner's / Self Employed Lounge

rainy

Pelican
Other Christian
Don't feel hesitant to call a higher up and simply request a new contact or account manager to continue your relationship with them.

I have had a number of similar issues with both vendors and clients. For whatever the reason the accounting practices of some of my vendors have gotten worse since COVID hit. I was patient when everyone was working remotely but not anymore. Not when it becomes a distraction.

At one point I was hesitant to make those calls. Not anymore with my understanding of business and accounting. I actually had a related conversation with a vendor yesterday who we give a lot of business to. They give us this unreadable purchase ticket when we get the material from them which you can't do anything with. Then they would send an account statement each month for us to pay with the listed invoices. Yet that kept getting delayed further and further. So I requested an invoice to be emailed the day of purchase. They can't follow thru with that. I finally just picked up the phone, asked for the owner and said listen man, can you help me understand why in the year 2021 it takes your company months to get me invoices when all your competitors I also do business with provide them the day of purchase. It creates a headache and as much as I enjoy doing business with you I have to be honest with you, it really does reflect poorly on your company. Every month it is your billing systems which causes us more issues than anyone else we deal with. I need you to address this immediately. This isn't personal but business is business.

He was embarrassed and unaware of the incompetence below him.

I would go up the chain. Not only is this guy not doing his job but his supervisors aren't do theirs either.
 

TheFinalEpic

Pelican
Catholic
Gold Member
Looking for some more advice.

I have had an arrangement with a company since 2016. Never had issues with them. In 2018 my contact with them changed. Since the new guy has been my contact things have degraded and continued to get worse. All this guy has to do is send me the billable amounts each month and then I send him an invoice. His predecessor always sent me the billable amount at the beginning of the month. But now I never get them. I ask for them and he either does not reply or says he will send it shortly and never does. Other than two occasions I have had to email other people in the organisation, after which I always get the billable amounts, I send the invoice and it is paid.

I used to bill them every two months. This was agreed upon by email. But since the new guy has been there the billing periods have got longer and longer. I let it run up a bit longer this year, due to some of my own issues, but no longer than it had been due to the problems with this guy. Once my issues were sorted I sent an invoice and now I am up to 12 months unpaid, as this guy has been running me in circles, not replying, saying he will get on it an never doing so.

I have avoiding specifically criticising this guy, being rude or reporting on his specific issues with his superiors, but it has gone too far this time.

One of the reasons I have given him such leeway as I think he is the idiot nephew of someone important. He looks and behaves like a moron. I can't really understand his behaviour. He must know I am eventually going to contact his superiors for about the 20th time, and essentially tell them he is not doing his very simple job. I can't see how they cannot see how this guy is grossly incompetent.

So I am going to report the issues that have now degraded to the worse level since he took the position. And I will also request that someone else deal with me, which, as mentioned, consists of sending an email a month and processing six invoices a year.

Any tips on how to handle this? I want it to be diplomatic and free of negativity.

Tagged: @rainy , @EndlessGravity , @TooFineAPoint , @TheFinalEpic
It sounds to me like you're handling it correctly. Is the location of the client close enough to you in which you could present yourself and speak with someone higher up the foodchain? Sometimes just walking into a location is enough of a wake up call (I understand in current year it's more difficult or impossible if fully remote).

What deliverables are you providing? Are you able to withold delivering until paid? If you are still providing goods/services, then it is completely unacceptable for late payments. Personally, if I have late payments for my development company, I simply start pulling web assets and that usually has them pay up the second they see that their site is offline.
 

Coja Petrus Uscan

Crow
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
It sounds to me like you're handling it correctly. Is the location of the client close enough to you in which you could present yourself and speak with someone higher up the foodchain? Sometimes just walking into a location is enough of a wake up call (I understand in current year it's more difficult or impossible if fully remote).

What deliverables are you providing? Are you able to withold delivering until paid? If you are still providing goods/services, then it is completely unacceptable for late payments. Personally, if I have late payments for my development company, I simply start pulling web assets and that usually has them pay up the second they see that their site is offline.

I sent an email that just laid out the issues without being ratty etc. I requested to have a different contact with them.

Things have always gone well once I emailed someone else. I am just surprised that they hadn't twigged this guy is useless. Though as I said I think he is the nephew of someone important. The reply seems to suggest this. I was just a bit worried about how exposing this guy would go. But as @rainy noted, they seem happy to know he is dead wood.

I've withheld. Likely something similar to you. By pulling web assets, what do you mean? I remember the days of development and it was a truly terrible time with the amount of hassle you have to deal with.
 

TheFinalEpic

Pelican
Catholic
Gold Member
I sent an email that just laid out the issues without being ratty etc. I requested to have a different contact with them.

Things have always gone well once I emailed someone else. I am just surprised that they hadn't twigged this guy is useless. Though as I said I think he is the nephew of someone important. The reply seems to suggest this. I was just a bit worried about how exposing this guy would go. But as @rainy noted, they seem happy to know he is dead wood.

I've withheld. Likely something similar to you. By pulling web assets, what do you mean? I remember the days of development and it was a truly terrible time with the amount of hassle you have to deal with.
I have taken down parts of websites, entire websites, or critical functionality that upon receipt of payment I automatically restore. I take 50% payment upfront for pretty much all work nowadays, this alleviates much of the headache that can come with this sort of clientele.
 

rainy

Pelican
Other Christian
Came across a company with a generally similar situation to the one my brother and I bought although ours has a visible office location. Here is the ad.

Asking Price:$695,000
Sales Revenue:$1,300,000
Cash Flow:$300,000

Super Profitable Landscaping Company established 25 years This company has almost 1000 steady maintenance accounts all with contracts. In addition there also do landscaping design and garden design work. Seller is in bad health and that is the reason for the sale of the business. Note this company only cuts mon thru friday no weekends. Fantastic route very desirable location. Trucks are parked rent free all you have to do is maintain the maintenance for landlord. 5 crews and office book keeper will stay on long term. Seller will work out a agreement for a salary to assist for up 2 one year! 3 large storage containers full,1 dump truck 6 trailers and 8 other trucks and equipment included. Seller will hold paper . Great company to merge with other landscaping, tree cutting or tree spraying company. Highly rated with huge waiting list for future work. This is one of my best landscaping companies of the year. Priced for fast deal do no lose the cream of the crop. Full crew of 17 full timers all will keep working!!!

Support & training:
yes

Owner financing: Owner financing is available. Please contact the seller for more information.

Financing available: 350,000.00 Down & 345,000 for 36 months interest free

Furniture / Fixtures value:$125,000



So it appears at first look it's a boomer who grew this business and his health isn't good at this point and he wants to cash out. I'd first look at the books. Revenue, COG, total expenses and net. Value of the capital assets. I'd look at maintenance revenue vs his landscape design where margins are usually bigger. I'd consider the size of his installations and room to scale larger. Is he only doing plantings or is he working in all hardscapes, masonry, lighting and irrigation? If he isn't there's serious opportunity to grow with the use of subs. By adding a mason to our plantings as a sub we increased the scale of our installs by 30-40%. And we now advertise masonry and get landscape design jobs thru that other service offering.

Then I'd dissect the maintenance contracts. Weekly maintenance would be the backbone of the company. Are the clients longterm clients? We kept 95% of our clients onboard when we bought the company. Then I'd see if they're strictly doing weekly or have additional services. Mulching in the spring, pruning summer/winter, lawn renovations in the fall and do they have a fertilizer program. If not there is tremendous upside to increase service. Applications are huge. We use a sub, mark him up about 40% and do 6 lawn applications per season plus a few double apps depending on the timing. The only effort/expense to us is literally providing the turf program price in our contracts we send out. Or doing the season while on a client's property we walk them thru which lawn apps would help protect their investment. They usually sign up for the program. Get a yes or a no and then just tell the sub to put the account on his schedule. We tried to turn every client from a maintenance client to a property management client where they expect the full services year round. That 2-3X the revenue of many accounts as the other services cost more per MHR and they are billed T/M. A four man crew billing "selective hand pruning" at $65 per MHR for 3 hours plus debris removal is a good morning. That's 12 MHR X $65 = $780 plus maybe $175 in debris removal. For 4 men before lunch. If that account is a $50 per week account you just billed the equivalent of 19 weeks work of service in a morning. And for a 33 week season the weekly is $1,650. You just billed $955 for a morning of summer pruning. Now double that with winter pruning....you already 2X that account and haven't gotten to the other additional services....

I don't know if it's correct but the ad says this company has 1,000 accounts. Now if you can add an additional $100 per account in services, that's 100K. An additional $500 per account is 500K.....just 10% of the accounts adding only 4 hours per year of the pruning I mentioned above is an additional 95K in revenue.

Owner financing available. That's only a starting point in my mind. I'd thoroughly go thru all the numbers with an attorney/CPA and see if I can get the price to come down. I'd also try to stretch out those payments over a longer period. Condition of vehicles/equipment is important as is the age of the labor. But five crews and 17 employees tells me this is a pretty good size landscape company with a lot of accounts to tap into and upsell.

But my general point is my brother and I jumped at something similar and have grown revenue about 75% in four years and increased the net 300% during that period just by being smarter, more ambitious and tech savvy. And cutting needless expenses. And we work with other companies who have similar stories with guys going after opportunities like this in their 30's.

Get a 10 yr 350K loan you're looking at about 3K/month plus interest. That's not much especially when growing the business. Might be a tight 3 years or so paying off the owner with his additional 36 month plan but you'd outright own a 1M+ company in three years.

All the infrastructure and client roster and expertise are intact. You just have to grow the damn thing which is hard work but fun and rewarding. Easier than starting from scratch. And despite busting your ass you will reap the benefits, not your boss. You learn accounting quickly. Legal compliance quickly. HR. Get to delve into marketing campaigns/networking.

I wanted to provide an example of the type of opportunity which is out there. Service industries are doing real well. And get a partner to go 50/50 and those numbers look even better. We actually helped pass on the cost of loans to the client by adding an additional 10% to every design/build contract.
 
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Pointy Elbows

Kingfisher
Orthodox
Came across a company with a generally similar situation to the one my brother and I bought although ours has a visible office location. Here is the ad.

Asking Price:$695,000
Sales Revenue:$1,300,000
Cash Flow:$300,000

Super Profitable Landscaping Company established 25 years This company has almost 1000 steady maintenance accounts all with contracts. In addition there also do landscaping design and garden design work. Seller is in bad health and that is the reason for the sale of the business. Note this company only cuts mon thru friday no weekends. Fantastic route very desirable location. Trucks are parked rent free all you have to do is maintain the maintenance for landlord. 5 crews and office book keeper will stay on long term. Seller will work out a agreement for a salary to assist for up 2 one year! 3 large storage containers full,1 dump truck 6 trailers and 8 other trucks and equipment included. Seller will hold paper . Great company to merge with other landscaping, tree cutting or tree spraying company. Highly rated with huge waiting list for future work. This is one of my best landscaping companies of the year. Priced for fast deal do no lose the cream of the crop. Full crew of 17 full timers all will keep working!!!

Support & training:
yes

Owner financing: Owner financing is available. Please contact the seller for more information.

Financing available: 350,000.00 Down & 345,000 for 36 months interest free

Furniture / Fixtures value:$125,000



So it appears at first look it's a boomer who grew this business and his health isn't good at this point and he wants to cash out. I'd first look at the books. Revenue, COG, total expenses and net. Value of the capital assets. I'd look at maintenance revenue vs his landscape design where margins are usually bigger. I'd consider the size of his installations and room to scale larger. Is he only doing plantings or is he working in all hardscapes, masonry, lighting and irrigation? If he isn't there's serious opportunity to grow with the use of subs. By adding a mason to our plantings as a sub we increased the scale of our installs by 30-40%. And we now advertise masonry and get landscape design jobs thru that other service offering.

Then I'd dissect the maintenance contracts. Weekly maintenance would be the backbone of the company. Are the clients longterm clients? We kept 95% of our clients onboard when we bought the company. Then I'd see if they're strictly doing weekly or have additional services. Mulching in the spring, pruning summer/winter, lawn renovations in the fall and do they have a fertilizer program. If not there is tremendous upside to increase service. Applications are huge. We use a sub, mark him up about 40% and do 6 lawn applications per season plus a few double apps depending on the timing. The only effort/expense to us is literally providing the turf program price in our contracts we send out. Or doing the season while on a client's property we walk them thru which lawn apps would help protect their investment. They usually sign up for the program. Get a yes or a no and then just tell the sub to put the account on his schedule. We tried to turn every client from a maintenance client to a property management client where they expect the full services year round. That 2-3X the revenue of many accounts as the other services cost more per MHR and they are billed T/M. A four man crew billing "selective hand pruning" at $65 per MHR for 3 hours plus debris removal is a good morning. That's 12 MHR X $65 = $780 plus maybe $175 in debris removal. For 4 men before lunch. If that account is a $50 per week account you just billed the equivalent of 19 weeks work of service in a morning. And for a 33 week season the weekly is $1,650. You just billed $955 for a morning of summer pruning. Now double that with winter pruning....you already 2X that account and haven't gotten to the other additional services....

I don't know if it's correct but the ad says this company has 1,000 accounts. Now if you can add an additional $100 per account in services, that's 100K. An additional $500 per account is 500K.....just 10% of the accounts adding only 4 hours per year of the pruning I mentioned above is an additional 95K in revenue.

Owner financing available. That's only a starting point in my mind. I'd thoroughly go thru all the numbers with an attorney/CPA and see if I can get the price to come down. I'd also try to stretch out those payments over a longer period. Condition of vehicles/equipment is important as is the age of the labor. But five crews and 17 employees tells me this is a pretty good size landscape company with a lot of accounts to tap into and upsell.

But my general point is my brother and I jumped at something similar and have grown revenue about 75% in four years and increased the net 300% during that period just by being smarter, more ambitious and tech savvy. And cutting needless expenses. And we work with other companies who have similar stories with guys going after opportunities like this in their 30's.

Get a 10 yr 350K loan you're looking at about 3K/month plus interest. That's not much especially when growing the business. Might be a tight 3 years or so paying off the owner with his additional 36 month plan but you'd outright own a 1M+ company in three years.

All the infrastructure and client roster and expertise are intact. You just have to grow the damn thing which is hard work but fun and rewarding. Easier than starting from scratch. And despite busting your ass you will reap the benefits, not your boss. You learn accounting quickly. Legal compliance quickly. HR. Get to delve into marketing campaigns/networking.

I wanted to provide an example of the type of opportunity which is out there. Service industries are doing real well. And get a partner to go 50/50 and those numbers look even better. We actually helped pass on the cost of loans to the client by adding an additional 10% to every design/build contract.
Rainy, Do you consider this an acceptable margin business for your industry? Sounds like you've managed to draw a much better margin than this prospect. I'm more manufacturing and distribution (primary customers are contractors). To me, that's an excellent margin - and it appears you think that is pretty weak, with good opportunity. I don't know about the landscaping world. I assume his cash flow includes his salary, plus business profit thereafter.

1000 maintenance contracts (with all that crew) seems lucrative to me. Do you think this guy has much cash off the books?

Years ago, I looked at buying various landscape maintenance businesses (mostly on east coast). Several I saw were real cash cows. One guy locked up a huge (mall-sized) property because he was doing excellent work (and properly priced, heh) for the property manager's mom's house.

For the lolz - I knew a guy that had "cash Saturday." Everything his contractor customers bought in cash on Saturday from 8 AM to noon was "cash, no tax." This dude was audited by his state every year, and by the feds often enough. He never got busted, because they were too lazy to show up on a Saturday AM and he was smart enough not to sell tax-exempt (off the books) to anyone he didn't already know on a Saturday AM. Guy made a killing, but all that cash was 'off the books' when he sold the business. That hurt his resale value a heavy bit.

For entrepreneurial newbies - Rainy shows an excellent way to look at a business. Math, plus gut instinct, plus decent (not genius) intellect +a little hustle = profit.

This is why trades are making a good living nowadays.
 

rainy

Pelican
Other Christian
Rainy, Do you consider this an acceptable margin business for your industry? Sounds like you've managed to draw a much better margin than this prospect. I'm more manufacturing and distribution (primary customers are contractors). To me, that's an excellent margin - and it appears you think that is pretty weak, with good opportunity. I don't know about the landscaping world. I assume his cash flow includes his salary, plus business profit thereafter.

1000 maintenance contracts (with all that crew) seems lucrative to me. Do you think this guy has much cash off the books?
I can't tell from the ad what this guy's margins are as cashflow is different than net. But I presume his net is 200K+. If it is 300K off 1.3M in revenue that's great margins. It's a tricky industry. The demand for landscape installations is incredible right now and I've been aggressive in increasing the margins there, and it's easier because you can weigh every job on its own merit.

Generally for weekly lawn maintenance the margins will be the lowest and you're locked in. Clients seem most hesitant to raising the weekly amount as well. That's why I think "extras" are so important and provide more flexibility. Cleanups, pruning, lawn seeding/renovations and apps are all T/M. And because they're specialty/skilled services you can justify going higher.

This guy might have cash under his mattress. It's common around here. I looked at one company where this guy was boasting about 500K net with 2 crews working out of his home. Wanted to sell. When I asked him to open the books he disappeared.

I'd have to look into this guy's model though. Many companies pick quantity over quality. Mine goes with quality over quantity. So he might have 1,000 accounts where he's in and out in 20 mins and just gets as many accounts as possible. Smaller margins but more volume. Whereas most of our accounts we have 3-4 man crews there for 2-3 hours+ each week and make sure there isn't a weed to be seen and every bed is edged perfectly. We also survey the lawn, do an irrigation report, check the health of plants, etc. So we get a lot of "no's" when quoting as we go after the large properties and/or many just aren't interested in anything more than a quick mow and blow. We intentionally price out many smaller properties. It's because we have found if we do a stellar job on large properties with a good amount of money, with great customer service and communication, with people who really care about their landscape, they are often much more open to all the extras as well as installations. We build a trust which is invaluable. Constant education. It gets to the point when we suggest extras and explain why it would be beneficial, they don't even ask the cost. They just say to get it done.

But I don't fault anyone going for the quantity angle. The biggest companies in the industry have done just that.

I'd strongly suggest, if you go the service route and choose quality(bigger and more expensive projects) over quantity (larger volume of accounts) then customer service, relationship building and earning trust is vital. Keep the dialogue going. With quantity, most dialogue is around the invoicing/billing. With quality most dialogue is about the health and review of their property, with invoicing rarely mentioned. Because the types with the money to prioritize quality don't have an issue paying their bill when due. We almost never have to collect 60+ days past due. The constant status updates of our properties has led to us getting asked to do stuff we don't normally do, but the client trusts us on their property more than anyone else. So after a bad storm and the basement flooded, who gets the call for a french drain? We do. And so we figured out how to do french drains as a result....need some fencing, sure we'll take care of it, then we found a fence guy to sub out.

Whatever service industry someone chooses I would ask, what is the biggest possible upside. For us it's not being a landscaping company, it's being a property management company. As I keep telling our guys, if any of our clients are in their kitchen and looking out into the yard, and they have a concern or an idea, no matter what it is, pool, patio, BBQ, lighting, whatever, I want them calling us. I don't want anyone else on that property. And it's working slowly but surely.

Part of growing business is committing to something and then figuring out how to get it done. You are always learning as you go when expanding. There's no time for lack of confidence if you want to grow. Someone comes to you with a problem you find a way to bring a solution to the table. Before you know it your service menu expanded and you're getting referrals.

That btw is why I love this industry. Being an electrician or plumber the number of services you offer is limited. With landscaping your opportunity is anything and everything a homeowner might consider doing outside to their property. That's why I started holiday lighting a few years ago. Has nothing at all to do with landscaping but it's outdoors and I already know you. So I offered it and found a sub to assist. Next we might add snow plowing. Then indoor holiday decorations to compliment the lighting as there's been some interest. Maybe work alongside a florist and event designer to get into the wedding scene. Big money there. Maybe I can find a wedding planner to work with and then go after weddings. Florist, design, tents, catering, all of it and get a 15-20% cut. Without using my workforce. Not bad. As soon as you find some people to work with you you can start advertising to your client roster and take it from there.
 
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Pointy Elbows

Kingfisher
Orthodox
I can't tell from the ad what this guy's margins are as cashflow is different than net. But I presume his net is 200K+. If it is 300K off 1.3M in revenue that's great margins. It's a tricky industry. The demand for landscape installations is incredible right now and I've been aggressive in increasing the margins there, and it's easier because you can weigh every job on its own merit.

Generally for weekly lawn maintenance the margins will be the lowest and you're locked in. Clients seem most hesitant to raising the weekly amount as well. That's why I think "extras" are so important and provide more flexibility. Cleanups, pruning, lawn seeding/renovations and apps are all T/M. And because they're specialty/skilled services you can justify going higher.

This guy might have cash under his mattress. It's common around here. I looked at one company where this guy was boasting about 500K net with 2 crews working out of his home. Wanted to sell. When I asked him to open the books he disappeared.

I'd have to look into this guy's model though. Many companies pick quantity over quality. Mine goes with quality over quantity. So he might have 1,000 accounts where he's in and out in 20 mins and just gets as many accounts as possible. Smaller margins but more volume. Whereas most of our accounts we have 3-4 man crews there for 2-3 hours+ each week and make sure there isn't a weed to be seen and every bed is edged perfectly. We also survey the lawn, do an irrigation report, check the health of plants, etc. So we get a lot of "no's" when quoting as we go after the large properties and/or many just aren't interested in anything more than a quick mow and blow. We intentionally price out many smaller properties. It's because we have found if we do a stellar job on large properties with a good amount of money, with great customer service and communication, with people who really care about their landscape, they are often much more open to all the extras as well as installations. We build a trust which is invaluable. Constant education. It gets to the point when we suggest extras and explain why it would be beneficial, they don't even ask the cost. They just say to get it done.

But I don't fault anyone going for the quantity angle. The biggest companies in the industry have done just that.

I'd strongly suggest, if you go the service route and choose quality(bigger and more expensive projects) over quantity (larger volume of accounts) then customer service, relationship building and earning trust is vital. Keep the dialogue going. With quantity, most dialogue is around the invoicing/billing. With quality most dialogue is about the health and review of their property, with invoicing rarely mentioned. Because the types with the money to prioritize quality don't have an issue paying their bill when due. We almost never have to collect 60+ days past due. The constant status updates of our properties has led to us getting asked to do stuff we don't normally do, but the client trusts us on their property more than anyone else. So after a bad storm and the basement flooded, who gets the call for a french drain? We do. And so we figured out how to do french drains as a result....need some fencing, sure we'll take care of it, then we found a fence guy to sub out.

Whatever service industry someone chooses I would ask, what is the biggest possible upside. For us it's not being a landscaping company, it's being a property management company. As I keep telling our guys, if any of our clients are in their kitchen and looking out into the yard, and they have a concern or an idea, no matter what it is, pool, patio, BBQ, lighting, whatever, I want them calling us. I don't want anyone else on that property. And it's working slowly but surely.

Part of growing business is committing to something and then figuring out how to get it done. You are always learning as you go when expanding. There's no time for lack of confidence if you want to grow. Someone comes to you with a problem you find a way to bring a solution to the table. Before you know it your service menu expanded and you're getting referrals.

That btw is why I love this industry. Being an electrician or plumber the number of services you offer is limited. With landscaping your opportunity is anything and everything a homeowner might consider doing outside to their property. That's why I started holiday lighting a few years ago. Has nothing at all to do with landscaping but it's outdoors and I already know you. So I offered it and found a sub to assist. Next we might add snow plowing. Then indoor holiday decorations to compliment the lighting as there's been some interest. Maybe work alongside a florist and event designer to get into the wedding scene. Big money there. Maybe I can find a wedding planner to work with and then go after weddings. Florist, design, tents, catering, all of it and get a 15-20% cut. Without using my workforce. Not bad. As soon as you find some people to work with you you can start advertising to your client roster and take it from there.
That's how you make yourself invaluable to a customer. Be the "I know a guy" guy. Paratroopers laugh that "the whole world is a drop zone." In small business, the whole world is a sales opportunity. Once you learn your niche, you find ways to branch out and you also develop an eye for really good deals.

You mention you and your brother are partners. I'm not much of a partner guy, as I've seen most contractor partnerships crumble at the first sign of real success or real hardship - even amongst brothers. Still, one of my top customers for years was a very successful partnership. These two made it happen for decades and made each other rich. They were family by marriage, and the partnership fell apart after the one divorced the other's sister. How have you managed the relation with your brother so well? Do you have kids you see coming into the equation soon?
 

rainy

Pelican
Other Christian
That's how you make yourself invaluable to a customer. Be the "I know a guy" guy. Paratroopers laugh that "the whole world is a drop zone." In small business, the whole world is a sales opportunity. Once you learn your niche, you find ways to branch out and you also develop an eye for really good deals.

You mention you and your brother are partners. I'm not much of a partner guy, as I've seen most contractor partnerships crumble at the first sign of real success or real hardship - even amongst brothers. Still, one of my top customers for years was a very successful partnership. These two made it happen for decades and made each other rich. They were family by marriage, and the partnership fell apart after the one divorced the other's sister. How have you managed the relation with your brother so well? Do you have kids you see coming into the equation soon?
If I'm being honest it hasn't been smooth as it could be between my brother and I as there has always been a little big brother vs little brother friction. But what has helped is drawing lines between what we each do. I don't think it would be helpful to have constant overlap. He runs operations, the crews, is in the field more giving estimates and sourcing material. I handle the finances, marketing, biz development, networking, expanding new services, etc.

But it works out for the most part as I'm more white collar and he's more blue collar. He has little interest in crunching the numbers and I have little interest in being the person who runs around purchasing hydrangeas and checking irrigation systems. Best way to put it is I work on the business and he works in the business. Which big picture should work well long term as one owner is doing the work the plan the future while the other has direct supervision/contact with all employees/clients. So jointly we're involved in every aspect. Then we have a GM with 30 yrs experience who floats between us.
 

BLMeToo

Robin
Catholic
I've been looking to building a web application that I can monetize and build some side income from. The goal is to earn enough that I can support myself and (hypothetical) wife and kids without working for someone else, and without growing more than a few people (I don't wanna be a big-wig corporate corpse).

Any ideas on what I can build? I've been a web developer for over 5 years, but I have zero ideas on ideas to build for money, that people would actually pay for, that I can realistically build on my own.
 

cosine

Woodpecker
I've been looking to building a web application that I can monetize and build some side income from. The goal is to earn enough that I can support myself and (hypothetical) wife and kids without working for someone else, and without growing more than a few people (I don't wanna be a big-wig corporate corpse).

Any ideas on what I can build? I've been a web developer for over 5 years, but I have zero ideas on ideas to build for money, that people would actually pay for, that I can realistically build on my own.
Real estate contracting software is horrible. It does a great job integrating new laws, but it's got a 2004 feel and is super counter-intuitive and annoying to use.

I can speak for Colorado; thousands of people use it and pay $30/month:

Ultimately though, I think the best outcome from this is if docusign.com decides to expand into this market and dominate it. They already have such a sleek UI.

Asking Price:$695,000
Sales Revenue:$1,300,000
Cash Flow:$300,000

Super Profitable Landscaping Company established 25 years
Where'd you find this? I feel like I should look for something similar for myself, those returns look amazing. Even if you had to hire two new managers to run it instead of yourself, you'd probably break six figures passively.
 

rainy

Pelican
Other Christian
Real estate contracting software is horrible. It does a great job integrating new laws, but it's got a 2004 feel and is super counter-intuitive and annoying to use.

I can speak for Colorado; thousands of people use it and pay $30/month:

Ultimately though, I think the best outcome from this is if docusign.com decides to expand into this market and dominate it. They already have such a sleek UI.


Where'd you find this? I feel like I should look for something similar for myself, those returns look amazing. Even if you had to hire two new managers to run it instead of yourself, you'd probably break six figures passively.

Loopnet is a good site.


As I've said many times, boomers are looking to retire and sell their proven service businesses with a large repeat client list. Real opportunity there.

Service industries are doing great and have benefited from the change in the employer/employee landscape. More time at home means more money spent on your home.
 
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cosine

Woodpecker
Asking Price:$1,850,000
Gross Revenue:$2,351,801
Established Year:1990
Cash Flow:$479,578
FF&E:$400,000
Listing ID: 1873503Listing provided by BizBuySell
BUSINESS DESCRIPTION


With over 30 years in business and long-term staff, this turn-key design and installation landscaping company has all you need for success! The expert team provides maintenance of landscapes including managing the irrigation, lawn fertilizing, weed control, and tree treatments. Owner works full time only six months out of the year and is able to travel and work remotely the other half of the year. This is an ideal opportunity for someone who wants to live in a sought after mountain town, enjoys seasonal flexibility and a highly successful business to fund this lifestyle. This opportunity has great growth potential for the right buyer. Everything is in place for the new owner to step right in and succeed!

Supposedly with an SBA loan you can put 10% down. Surely I could cough up the $180k for something that nets such a massive cash flow.

I've worked as a financial analyst in M&A, people do make their businesses look much better right before they sell. Also, if I borrowed $1.6M at 4%, I'd pay about $64k/year just in interest. I'd also probably promote some of the more senior people to assist managing it and step away myself over time.

Seems wildly profitable and life-changing compared to my current salary of $85k.

I'm not terribly experienced with landscaping, and the business really is in a super expensive area. People in this ritzy town have high standards for their $10-20M homes. They will never, ever mow their own lawns.

But, I believe I do know how to run a business, and how to manage at least some amount of people.

I think I should pursue this, but not sure what first steps to take.
 

inthefade

Kingfisher
Orthodox Inquirer

Loopnet is a good site.


As I've said many times, boomers are looking to retire and sell their proven service businesses with a large repeat client list. Real opportunity there.

Service industries are doing great and have benefited from the change in the employer/employee landscape. More time at home means more money spent on your home.
Neat site, thank you!
 

rainy

Pelican
Other Christian
Supposedly with an SBA loan you can put 10% down. Surely I could cough up the $180k for something that nets such a massive cash flow.

I've worked as a financial analyst in M&A, people do make their businesses look much better right before they sell. Also, if I borrowed $1.6M at 4%, I'd pay about $64k/year just in interest. I'd also probably promote some of the more senior people to assist managing it and step away myself over time.

Seems wildly profitable and life-changing compared to my current salary of $85k.

I'm not terribly experienced with landscaping, and the business really is in a super expensive area. People in this ritzy town have high standards for their $10-20M homes. They will never, ever mow their own lawns.

But, I believe I do know how to run a business, and how to manage at least some amount of people.

I think I should pursue this, but not sure what first steps to take.
I knew nothing of landscaping before buying the company. But I knew I never wanted to work for someone else again. Numbers are numbers. Growth is growth. Opportunity is opportunity. A lot of these boomers lost their ambition years ago to grow the business.

That company looks like it's commercial maintenance. I don't do commercial but they're very good repeat accounts to have. But right off the bat that company has the opportunity to grow into the residential market. All of the commercial treatments can be transferred to residential plus more such as cleanups, mulching, lawn renovations, pruning, annuals, bulbs, etc. The company also doesn't appear to do installs. So that's more opportunity if you hire a landscape designer. You can start small just with plants doing entrances/borders/beds. Then as that grows find a mason to bring in as a sub.

That's a company in Colorado landscaping half the year. I wouldn't take the other 6 months off. I'd get into snow plowing(leverage those commercial accounts and get them on winter contracts) and also get into holiday lighting. As a younger owner in this industry I'm not relaxing until I have good revenue 12 months out of the year.

I would consult with an M&A attorney. Also a CPA. Reach out, state interest to the broker and ask for the numbers going back 5 years. COVID has benefited the industry so at a minimum I'd average out the last three seasons. Pinpoint where the expertise is in the company. The one I bought the two owners were mostly retired and the GM and designer ran most of it. Find the similar people in this company. I offered retention bonuses, a three year plan with a payout at month 36 to stay on during the transition. By month 36 we had completely turned around the company and they were earning a good amount more so they were happy to stay on. But losing a key employee is always a risk during an ownership transition. We made it an absolute priority to keep both and invest further in them. When coming in and making changes when young and ambitious, there will be ups and downs and friction at times. Want to incentivize your experts to stay on long enough to see the turnaround and growth.

That allows you to focus on the business and let the experts do what they do best.

Ask for the employee roster and look at the ages of the foreman/labor. Get a list of company vehicles. Get a list of maintenance equipment. All capital assets. Ask your attorney to dig into any potential lawsuits, liens on the company, workers' comp cases. We inherited an ongoing workers' comp case and lawsuit.
 

cosine

Woodpecker
That company looks like it's commercial maintenance. I don't do commercial but they're very good repeat accounts to have.
Why are you guessing commercial and not primarily residential, serving high-end luxury homes? That was my guess
The company also doesn't appear to do installs. So that's more opportunity if you hire a landscape designer. You can start small just with plants doing entrances/borders/beds. Then as that grows find a mason to bring in as a sub.
I think this is a fantastic area to hire young professional designers, lots of people working in architecture and etc. So I could see this going really well.
That's a company in Colorado landscaping half the year. I wouldn't take the other 6 months off. I'd get into snow plowing(leverage those commercial accounts and get them on winter contracts) and also get into holiday lighting. As a younger owner in this industry I'm not relaxing until I have good revenue 12 months out of the year.
Great point, I already attempted creating a Christmas lights business but was a bit too late, only going up on Google Maps and etc already a week or two into December.

I really like the idea that employees could switch between landscaping and snow removal, and have gainful employment year-round, and not be purely seasonal. I'd imagine that would create lower turnover.
I would consult with an M&A attorney. Also a CPA. Reach out, state interest to the broker and ask for the numbers going back 5 years. COVID has benefited the industry so at a minimum I'd average out the last three seasons. Pinpoint where the expertise is in the company. The one I bought the two owners were mostly retired and the GM and designer ran most of it. Find the similar people in this company. I offered retention bonuses, a three year plan with a payout at month 36 to stay on during the transition. By month 36 we had completely turned around the company and they were earning a good amount more so they were happy to stay on. But losing a key employee is always a risk during an ownership transition. We made it an absolute priority to keep both and invest further in them. When coming in and making changes when young and ambitious, there will be ups and downs and friction at times. Want to incentivize your experts to stay on long enough to see the turnaround and growth.

That allows you to focus on the business and let the experts do what they do best.

Ask for the employee roster and look at the ages of the foreman/labor. Get a list of company vehicles. Get a list of maintenance equipment. All capital assets. Ask your attorney to dig into any potential lawsuits, liens on the company, workers' comp cases. We inherited an ongoing workers' comp case and lawsuit.
This is great advice, thanks. I think I have to find a new CPA, the current one I use seems too busy and is probably looking to retire. I do have a couple of attorney friends.

SBA loans supposedly can be had for 10% down, is that unrealistic? I'm not afraid of heavy leverage if the cash flow is there.
 

SeaEagle

Woodpecker
Trad Catholic
Why are you guessing commercial and not primarily residential, serving high-end luxury homes? That was my guess

I think this is a fantastic area to hire young professional designers, lots of people working in architecture and etc. So I could see this going really well.

Great point, I already attempted creating a Christmas lights business but was a bit too late, only going up on Google Maps and etc already a week or two into December.

I really like the idea that employees could switch between landscaping and snow removal, and have gainful employment year-round, and not be purely seasonal. I'd imagine that would create lower turnover.

This is great advice, thanks. I think I have to find a new CPA, the current one I use seems too busy and is probably looking to retire. I do have a couple of attorney friends.

SBA loans supposedly can be had for 10% down, is that unrealistic? I'm not afraid of heavy leverage if the cash flow is there.
Not to derail the topic at hand, but do you have any insight into becoming a landscape designer/architect?
 

rainy

Pelican
Other Christian
Why are you guessing commercial and not primarily residential, serving high-end luxury homes? That was my guess

I think this is a fantastic area to hire young professional designers, lots of people working in architecture and etc. So I could see this going really well.

Great point, I already attempted creating a Christmas lights business but was a bit too late, only going up on Google Maps and etc already a week or two into December.

I really like the idea that employees could switch between landscaping and snow removal, and have gainful employment year-round, and not be purely seasonal. I'd imagine that would create lower turnover.

This is great advice, thanks. I think I have to find a new CPA, the current one I use seems too busy and is probably looking to retire. I do have a couple of attorney friends.

SBA loans supposedly can be had for 10% down, is that unrealistic? I'm not afraid of heavy leverage if the cash flow is there.
I read the ad wrong. Not commercial. Still great upside.

Maybe the owner would be open to owner financing for 36-60 months. That would cut down on the loan amount.
 

cosine

Woodpecker
Not to derail the topic at hand, but do you have any insight into becoming a landscape designer/architect?
Not a lot!

I read the ad wrong. Not commercial. Still great upside.

Maybe the owner would be open to owner financing for 36-60 months. That would cut down on the loan amount.
Over the phone, the listing agent stressed a couple of times that the owner is not in a rush and would be happy to help.

Apparently they do Christmas lights when requested, but don't advertise. Prime area for expansion.

Most of the fixed capital is in trucks. Seems like it would be easy to fit them with snow plows. Can't have people running around on rooftops installing Xmas lights anyway on snow days when you need to plow.
 
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