We, as people, tend to look at things from a short sighted perspective. We think if our business is mowing lawns, that we should market our service simply as ‘you need your lawn mower? called us.’ This concept tends to work on a smaller scale but as we are looking to grow and want to make more money by serving the customer more satisfactory we need to take a step back and see things from a wider perspective and on a more long range time table. Growth of all kinds, requires from us that we look further ahead than the immediate.
A lawn care business owner brought up this point on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and shared with us his thoughts on business growth and how he changed his thought process to encourage himself to grow by looking at the bigger picture. He wrote “the other day I was reading about auto maker Henry Ford. He was the man who founded Ford Motors, a company that has been in business for over a 100 years.
He was a pioneer and an industrialist. He was a man that could look ahead and envision growth and knew how to get his company there. He once said ‘If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.’
That is a very insightful statement as it goes against everything I have learned about customer relations in the lawn care business. I have always thought you needed to ask the customer what he or she wanted and then give it to them at a fair price. Ford, however, said a business owner should not ask the customer what he wants but instead, ask him what his problems are and then find a way to solve those problems.
That is the key. He didn’t see himself as a car maker, he saw himself as a problem solver. That is a very important lesson to be learned. Lawn care customers don’t call you to simply cut their grass, they are calling you to make their lawns look good. They don’t call you to trim their hedges, they are calling you to beautify their beds. Don’t forget one of the biggest reasons of all, they are calling you to give them more time on their weekends to do other things.
As you can see, in each case, they are calling you for a general purpose. The specifics on how you solve their problems is up to you.
So how should knowing this change the way you operate your business? The next time you find yourself talking with a current customer, try asking them, ‘what kinds of problem are you having with your yard?’ or ‘what don’t you like about your lawn or yard?’ The answers you hear may surprise you. The customer will bring up issues you never even thought to ask. They may not like the way water collects on the ground outside around the air conditioning unit. Or maybe they may wonder why there is a fairy ring (mushrooms) that grow in the late summer.
From such answers you would immediately have to two non-mowing problems to solve . You could add a drain tube on the air conditioner unit which would be a 5 minute job. From this you could probably charge $25. For the mushroom problem you could dig to see if there is wood buried beneath the surface of the lawn. Mushroom fungus tends to feed on buried wood in the lawn that could have been left from when the house was built. Once you dig it up and remove it, you could then reseed the area. While you are reseeding that section of lawn, you could aerate and overseed the entire lawn as well. How about installing a flower bed around the mailbox? Such improvement would really help make the yard look great.
All of this work could be had from asking one simple question.¬† And at the end of the day you could find yourself $1000 richer. So remember ask those general questions. If you don’t you will never known that the customer had all these problems running around in their mind you could solve. There is a lot more to do than simply mowing a lawn.
Don’t think of yourself as a lawn mower. Instead, think of yourself as a problem solver.