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Thread: $100K later...

  1. #1
    Hero Member
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    $100K later...

    and I'm right back where I started. Virginia just didn't go well. Just a few weeks into the season, my lead guy quit on me. This was the guy that I brought in from Colorado. He was my best friend. I thought it would work out great and it failed miserably. Then, my brother, who worked with him was being trained to be my lead foreman. Well, as I posted a while back, he fell from a ladder. He messed his shoulder up pretty bad and decided that he wasn't coming back. At that point, I was basically dead in the water. I thought about hiring someone else, but I was concerned that I would just be training my competition. In an area plagued with "handymen" and "independent contractors" who wash houses for a hundred bucks, I didn't want to be training yet another guy who would end up buying a power washer from lowes and strapping a ladder to the top of his Ford explorer and taking business from me. I feel that being a small, newer company, I need a second in command that I can truly trust.

    I had been talking to a friend of mine. The guy that was my ground guy in NY, who bought my equipment and phone number when I left. He has been running his own operation since then. He said that he was willing to come down to VA and partner up. I thought about that quite a bit and talked it over with my wife for weeks. We decided that it was too much of a risk for him and I didn't want to lose another friendship over it. He also has a long term girlfriend who is still in college and wouldn't move down until she finished in a year and a half. That would go well...yeah. Business was coming in, but not nearly as much as we felt needed to come in, in order to have him move to a state with no family or anything else. Most of our business was coming in from the TV commercial, but I just couldn't afford to run it anymore. The sales tactics that I had used in NY (door to door, mailers, door hangers, etc...) just weren't working there. The return on the TV advertising just wasn't enough either. Once I pulled the TV ads, the calls basically stopped. I know it takes time to build a name, but we were used to already having a name and making good money where we were. So we made a very difficult decision.

    We have officially re-opened our doors in Western NY. I will miss Virginia. I will miss my 72 acres of freedom. However, I know this area. I know the market. I know how to make money here. I am partnering with the guy that used to work for me. We feel like this is the best path forward. So now, after what now seems like a $100K bad vacation to Virginia, we are back where we started...probably where we belong.

  2. #2
    Ryan, sorry things didn't work out in VA. Hopefully you will be able hit the ground running in NY. and welcome back to real winters ;-)

    Take my next comment for what its worth.. free internet advice.. perhaps worth what you pay for it. Seems you may have missed the biggest lesson VA had to offer. Partnerships do not work.

  3. #3
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    I wasn't in a partnership before. I hired those guys as employees.

  4. #4
    Let me add to that never have a partner or have friends or family for employees, and if you're worried about training your competition then have new employees sign a non compete clause
    Rick Warnack
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  5. #5
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    It is not easy to run any business let alone starting a new one. Patience is needed. I would think that you need to have a 3 year plan and stick to it. Going back and partnering up again does not sound like a great idea but good luck. This is a very hard business to get good guys that you can trust and will work hard.
    Rolling Suds Inc.
    Brian Wendling
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  6. #6
    Slow and steady . You can't build reputation in a season and give up !

  7. #7
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    Tha'ts very true, Jim. That was actually the expected part. We knew that we wouldn't have the amount of business there, that we had in NY...at least not at first.
    The problem was not having dependable employees paired with the amount of money we were spending for customer acquisition.

    We left our area for "greener pastures". The thought of being able to have a longer work season, the lower taxes, the gun laws...all of that stuff. We had/still have a solid name here. We were really starting to build great capitol. We knew what worked with sales and what did not. Looking back, we were foolish to just up and take off. But hey...at least we got to miss a bad winter.

    Obviously we will not be able to just pick up where we left off, but at least we still do have a name here. I am confident in my sales here as well. We have reset our 3 and 5 year plans, and hope to jump back on track soon enough.

  8. #8
    Full Member gbran's Avatar
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    Sorry it didn't work out here for you. I've been in the NRV area all my life, and the best advertising is word of mouth. It's taken 8 years for that to work, but it's what works best in this area. I spend very little on advertising (Home Show once a yr and website) because I run solo and I stay busy enough for me, which is how I like it. I have friends with lawn care businesses and they can't keep employees. I've been told to expand and asked if I was interested in a partnership, but I don't want the problems that come with it. I don't make a ton of money, but I live comfortably and I want to run a business, not have it run me.
    Best of luck to you Ryan, sorry we never got a chance to meet while you were in the area.
    New Look Exterior Cleaning, LLC
    Christiansburg, VA 24073
    Greg Branscome - Owner Operator
    540-381-3405/540-230-5280
    www.newlookexteriorcleaning.com

  9. #9
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    Thanks, Greg. I hope a few of the people I sent your way, ended up becoming your customers.

  10. #10
    Prestige Member Guy B's Avatar
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    It's not how many times you get knocked down Brother........It's how many times you get back up.

    I think there's a few lessons to be learned, by others, from your post Ryan.....Thanks for sharing.

    No doubt......You'll do just fine back in your old stomping grounds.
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    Guy Blackmon 910-876-1594

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