A member of the Gopher lawn Care Business Forum had just posted about how he won his bid for mowing a large commercial property. This new commercial lawn care job is really going to help his business grow next year. And I asked him:
When you read some of the post on this forum and see some lawn care business owners have such a difficult time getting their footing in this business, do you feel they are missing something? What do you feel has gotten you to the next level when so many fail at even getting a footing? What are others simply not doing?
“I think you have to have a solid business plan and set goals for your business. I decided to build my business around personal service. I build relationships with my clients. This has led to many long time accounts as well as lots of “word of mouth” clients. There are a lot of the larger landscape company’s that don’t cater to personal service. I here it all the time. I will do little things for my customers that don’t take a lot of time like carry in patio furniture, or garden hoses, I even hung some pictures for one of my clients. You also have to be able to sell yourself and your services. Knowledge is definitely key.
My advice to new startups in this business is to have a plan to set yourself apart from the competition. Don ‘t try to be like every other lawn boy running around out there just trying to cut grass and rake leaves.”
Having a business plan seems to be really important! The tough thing about it is that it doesn’t happen over night. You can’t print a flyer, drop it off and then immediately be known for personal service.
How long do you think it took you to start getting to the point where your personal service really took center stage?
Also, how did you come up with the idea that this would be your niche? It’s genius and simple and 99% of the time, overlooked. I just wonder how it stood out for you?
“It took a couple years and a number of customers for me to realize that there is a niche for personal service. First off I want clients that I enjoy servicing. That makes going to work much more fun. I have weeded out the PITA (pain in the ass) clients.
When you go above and beyond in your service most people take notice and appreciate that. That has brought us more business thru refferals than any flyer or newspaper ad ever did.”
That is a very interesting point. A lot of new business owners will have no clue about this.
What, to you, defines a pain in the ass customer? When does a customer go from being demanding to being a pita? What are the signs you look out for?
Once they get that category, how do you get rid of them?
“To me a PITA customer is someone who you just can’t please no matter how hard you try or someone who expects more than what we agreed upon.
Early last Spring we had this new client that wanted her lawn mowed at like 3 different heights depending on which side of the house you were on. She would call 3 times a week if she saw 1 dandelion on her lawn. I told her we would take care of the dandelion when we show up for weekly mowing . She demanded that we return within a day to remove it. 1 dandelion not a patch of them!
Needless to say after 3 weeks of that crap I terminated her services. That type of client is not who I want to work for after all this is my business! A PITA client could be someone who doesn’t pay on time as well. I don’t use contracts for residential customers but for commercial customers I put an escape clause in the contract for me and the customer. That way if things don’t work out, they or we, are not locked in for the entire season.
Commercial clients like the escape clause because some of them have been burned by shoddy workmanship especially from the large landscape company’s which will only sign a contract for the entire season.”
Very fascinating, so maybe the key to enjoying your company and growing it is finding the customers you work best with. You can’t make everyone happy all the time but you can make some of the people happy some of the time. Finding a customer you feel you can make happy seems to be an important goal. For those you can’t make happy, cut them free and move on.
This was discussed on the GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show episode 51
Listen to the GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Podcast.