Most lawn and landscape professionals agree that building customer relationships is crucial to recruiting and retaining clients.
While it’s common for business owners to focus their resources on gaining new business, building strong relationships with existing clients is important. It can set you up for repeat business. And happy clients also refer your services to others.
Follow these tips from other landscape pros who shared their ideas on building customer relationships at NALP’s LANDSCAPES.
1. Focus on Communication
Timely, efficient communication should be a priority. Being available demonstrates that your clients’ landscapes and satisfaction are important to you.
Bruce Moore from Eastern Land Management, Stamford, Connecticut, employs area managers who keep in touch with clients weekly. “Whether through text or phone call or in person, they make sure to connect with each client once a week,” he explains. “Then I will also follow-up quarterly. Those are keys to our success. Clients know they can get us on the phone if they have a problem and know we’ll take care of it.”
Eastern Land Management also has a profit sharing program for its employees focused on client retention. Managers are expected to retain 94 percent of their clients each year. “We focus on retention becuase it’s a lot cheaper to keep a customer than go after a new one,” Moore explains.
2. Check in With Clients Via Surveys
Southern Landscape Group, Evington, Virginia, regularly surveys its clients to ensure they have opportunities to share regular feedback. “We do a survey after every project we complete so they can rate our performance,” says Owner Mark Maslow. “Then we look at those surveys and see what areas aren’t scoring where we should be and find out why. Have we not trained the team correctly or are we not communicating with the client properly or solidifying that relationship? Surveys help us continue to improve our processes and maintain client relationships.”
3. Remember Your Clients are Also Individuals
While your relationships with your clients are professional, acknowledging that you see them as people—that is, more than just paychecks—can go a long way. If you know your client is a parent, you may simply ask how their children are doing, as an example.
Casey Hurd, owner of Worton, Maryland-based Greenscapes Land Care LLC, prioritizes getting out and meeting clients to get to know them better. “I still have customers I talk to from 10 years ago,” he shares. “I’m always talking with them and finding out their needs.”
4. Exceed Expectations
One of the best ways to build strong relationships with clients is to develop a reputation as a lawn and landscape professional who delivers exceptional results. By setting reasonable expectations, you give yourself the opportunity to impress the client with your services and position yourself as someone they would like to continue to work with.
When clients are dissatisfied, Maslow suggests remaining calm and getting all the necessary information, being empathetic to the customer. “There is no problem we can’t resolve,” he says. “Sometimes fixing problems costs us some money, but a strong relationship is far more important than price to rectify a situation.”
Consider your client and determine what would be valuable to them. It could be as simple as giving an in-depth walkthrough after project completion or including a small value-adding feature that enhances the finished (or ongoing) results. For loyal clients, a token of appreciation after key service milestones or around the holidays can be unexpected pleasures that strengthens your relationships. Find the opportunity to go above and beyond in a way your clients will appreciate.
EDITOR’S NOTE: These tips are an excerpt from a session at NALP’s LANDSCAPES 2019 event. Learn more about LANDSCAPES 2020 here.