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Posted:  13 Apr 2013 21:40  
hi,
I know nothing about plants, but there is an interior plantscape business for sale in my area that has been around for a long time. She wants quite a lot for it, QUITE A LOT!!! but it has 200 contracted accounts and the books show quite a lot of revenue. Am I dumb to go into a business I know nothing about? Or would this be a business that a beginner could kind of pick up and run with?
Thanks for your info!
Posted:  14 Apr 2013 02:04  
Answers: yes to the first question, no to the second.  Apprentice with an interiorscape company doing good work in your area first.  Learn the business from bottom to top, or as much as you can in a year or two.  Two hundred accounts is a lot of work, requiring top-notch management and sales skills as well as business acumen or a partner with same.  Good luck.
Posted:  15 Apr 2013 02:11  
you dont say much about the details. are you considering buying the ccounts or the company. sounds like you are purchasing the company, and if they have 200 accounts then they must have staff that will be possibly coming with the company. that being the case, if you are a businessperson which i assume you since this is a sizable company you are considering purchasing, then you should know what moves to take to make it work.

i know others who have purchased medium sized companies knowing nothing about the industry, but they have run other businesses before and usually with a purchase of this size the seller contracts to participate in the transition as a consultant for severl months. at leas 3 but pref six
Posted:  29 Apr 2013 19:30  
My first instinct is to agree with Clem. We've all seen the effects in this industry of people who don't know what they're doing.  But on second thought, those effects can also happen with people who have years of experience, so maybe knowing nothing about the industry is not necessarily so bad.

Presumably, as Alex says, you would be purchasing the entire company, staff and all. You would be relying heavily on the managerial people that come with it for quite some time. So a key question would be do you have faith in their knowledge, and your ability to work together?

If you purchase this company, you would be on a steep learning curve, even though you have business experience. (You do, don't you? If you don't, I'd say forget the whole thing.)  I once worked for a man who had spent years in upper management in industry, and who then purchased a plant company.  He took a course in Interior Landscaping first, so he at least had book knowledge of the industry.  He was doing ok till he decided to cut costs by laying off his experienced techs as well as the manager, and hiring new people at minimum wage, and expecting the supervisor to compensate for their lack of knowledge by dumping Truban in everything.  Needless to say, that experiment didn't go well.

I think you could maybe do it if you were willing to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible - reading, forums, horticulture sites, trade mags, courses - and if you could be really innovative, like spending time with each of the techs, working with them  full time for several weeks, to learn both the accounts and plantcare techniques; and lots of time with the sales people, greenhouse manager, service mgr/supervisor, purchasing...everyone in the company, really digging into how everything works.

And lots of conversations with everyone to find out not only what suggestions they might have for improving the company, but also what each person is about.  People who have worked in this industry for very long are an amazing bunch.
Posted:  29 Apr 2013 21:32  
One thing that bears mentioning is whether or not Larry has the intention of being a hands-on owner or just investing in a going concern and overseeing the existing staff and having them run it, more in the way of an investor.  Larry, what is your game plan should you decide to take a flyer on this business?

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