Why go through all the hassle of starting up a landscaping business from scratch when you could just buy one instead?
Buying a landscaping business comes with a ton of benefits. For one thing, you don’t have to go through the hassle and frustration of starting a business from the ground up (pun intended!). You likely won’t have to search for a new customer base, as the business you just bought probably already has an established one.
And if you’re lucky, buying a new landscaping operation puts you on the fast track to building a tidy profit!
But that’s only if you buy the right landscaping operation. Which is why we’re here to help with the five things to look for when buying a landscaping business.
Any landscaping business worth buying should come with existing customers. If it doesn’t, you might as well save your money and build the business yourself!
Nabbing a robust customer base is one of the biggest benefits to purchasing an existing business. Having customers right from the get-go means you spend less time on your marketing efforts…
And more time actually making money!
But don’t take the business owner’s word for it. Ask to see a schedule that indicates what customers are currently being serviced by that landscaper, and when. The business owner should be able to show you what regular customers they have, as well as any larger seasonal projects that are pre-scheduled.
If you really want to do your homework, consider calling a few of those customers to verify that they’re still using the landscaping business you want to buy. It’s an extra step that can protect you from being fooled by a phony list or schedule of “customers.”
Although you’ll need to get a new landscaping insurance policy when you acquire the business, it’s worth checking to see if there was any previous coverage on the business.
Here’s why that matters: If you buy a landscaping business that was previously uninsured, you could end up finding that a customer has claimed property damage from work that was done before your time. If that customer decides to sue you — even though you weren’t responsible for the damage — you would have to retain an attorney to defend you in court.
To prevent running into those problems, we recommend buying a landscaping business that can demonstrate that it was fully insured.
Don’t forget to get a new insurance policy once you take it over!
Employees can be a tricky topic to tackle. After all, you don't really know the employees yet, so it might feel like taking a leap of faith to keep them on once you buy the landscaping business.
At the same time, keeping the same employees means there’s less disruption to the business and its customers, so you can start offering your landscaping services right away.
Ultimately, it’s your call as to whether or not you want to keep the same employees. Just be honest with yourself as to your own experiences managing a large team, especially if you’ve been solo or have worked with only one or two landscapers.
Additionally, it’s worth checking with existing customers to see if they’re satisfied with the work that’s being done by the business’s employees. If your soon-to-be customers have complaints about the workers, that might be a signal you should hire your own team of landscapers once you buy the business.
Speaking of which…
Money can’t buy a new reputation, so if the landscaping business you’re eyeing has negative reviews or unhappy customers, you should give it a pass.
Here’s why: Even though you’d be a brand-new owner with a long history of happy customers, the truth is that people won’t see your name; they’ll see the business’s name. And it can be really hard for customers to shake their perceptions of a “bad business” if they’ve been burned in the past.
That problem only grows exponentially if you have negative online reviews, since they can be difficult (if not impossible) to get rid of.
While time can help heal a business’s damaged reputation, the truth is that if you have the option, you should spend your hard-earned money on a landscaping business that has a solid reputation.
Take a close look at the business’s marketing strategy, including any flyers, websites, and social media pages they may have.
Does their marketing strategy and style closely align to yours? Or is their marketing so completely different that you’d have to do an overhaul just to get it up to speed?
Marketing matters, especially if you’re looking to build your customer base with a new landscaping business. And if it takes too much work to incorporate another business with your own, it might be worth keeping an eye out for another landscaping service that can seamlessly integrate with your marketing strategy.
When it comes to buying a new landscaping business — or any business, for that matter — it pays to do as much research as possible. If you pay attention to the five big things pointed out earlier in this article, you should be well on your way to finding out everything you need to know before you make the big decision to buy.
Bottom line: You worked hard to build up the money or equity required to buy a landscaping business. Don’t spend it on something that may end up undermining all of your hard work!
I love writing about the small business experience because I happen to be a small business owner - I've had a freelance copywriting business for over 10 years. In addition to that, I also head up the content strategy here at Simply Business. Reach out if you have a great idea for an article or just want to say hi!
Mariah writes on a number of topics such as small business planning, contractor insurance, and business licenses.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.