Is the customer always right?

We have a lot of discussions at the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum on the topic of customers. How best to deal with them. How to attract them and in this discussion, are they always right?

A new lawn care business owner shared with us some of his thoughts on getting his lawn care business going after being laid off from his full time job in financing. He wrote “I am just now trying to get my lawn care business off the ground this late in the year. It’s been tough trying to make a go of it and get my foot in the door for next.

Customer always right

Customer always right


To promote my lawn care business I have been using Craigslist posting and door to door flyer marketing. That is the current marketing concentration for me. My hope is to stay a small landscaping service and get the typical annual contracts not for the lawn mowing/maintenance but rather the yearly landscape maintenance i.e. trimming,mulching, bed prep and planting, leaf removal and then small scale install/renovations.”

What kinds of things stand out as far as business lessons you have learned from those past years you spent in the finance industry?

“1) 99.9% of the time the client/customer really is right. Even though this phrase is overused, it really is true and must always be kept in mind. The clients are the lifeblood of all sales/service businesses and without them, we are nothing. Pretty simple Right?? Wrong!!

As a business owner/operator or even manager, we must strive everyday to maintain ourselves and our employees in this mindset. It is way too easy to get caught up in the immediate task or issue (especially when all is going wrong) and either lose sight of the clients specific needs OR find ourselves at mental odds with them over a particular issue. So long as the thoughts are checked before expressed, all is well. Lose sight of the client is always right and verbalize your mental attitude and you may find a “Thank You” card from your competition for the new referral you sent them.

The other.1% of the time is a small portion but it indeed exists and usually is applicable in the event of collection issues. When it comes time to collect on past due accounts or check/credit insufficiencies, you must be nice but FIRM and direct, if you intend to collect. Most of the time it is just an error or oversight and a simple but direct outline of corrective action will get you paid and even gain the respect of the client. However, if it passes the specified time then the outlined steps must be taken as you specified.

Obviously, you need to prepare for the fact of losing a client if aggressive collections are required but again maybe the cost to constantly collect outweighs the potential profit in that case, enough said.

2) Second, the big thing is to just treat the clients the way you want to be treated or the way you would want someone to treat your family. Simple things that we all know and not necessarily worth the specifics of here.

The bottom line is from arrival to departure, conduct yourself and provide your service as if you were doing it for the person most important to you. This attitude is actually referred to as the golden rule and is actually the golden rule of business as well.”

Do you ever find there is a percentage of your customer base that will feel you out and see if they can get more from you by complaining? If so, in such situations, is it better to give more or to stand your ground?

Does giving in to customers added requests tend to bring more requests in the future?

What do you do when these start to eat up your time and you find yourself giving more and more time?

“I guess maybe further clarifications is in order on the client always being right. The client can still be right without the service provider being held hostage to excessive demands. The key in my mind is to create an acceptable expectation in your mind of what is allowable in terms of negotiations/callbacks/freebies and then convey for instance you allow 3 callback services a year as a part of the annual contract. Then define what a callback is.

Maybe it means if the client finds an issue w/in 12 or 24 hours- say a missed section of trimming that you return free of charge OR give a discount at next service. Whatever the give/take is will be at your discretion as each situation is different and will affect your pocket differently. Regardless, know what your level is and educate the client as to what and when a free callback is and what determines a need for service between normally scheduled services. This probably is a paid call but maybe at a reduced rate and advise your clients of all this in a rate/proposal sheet signed as acknowledgement of receipt even if you do not use annual paper contracts.

I think this covers how to increase/upsell services by the education of the client as to what and when a FREE service can be an expectation of theirs and when they should expect to be paying an added fee. By clarifying the boundaries upfront, the client should already know when they should be looking to spend that extra $$$.”

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Lawn Care Business Books And Software.
How To Get Lawn Care Customers Vol. 2
The landscaping and lawn care business plan startup guide
A rebellious teenagers guide to starting a landscaping & lawn care business
The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show Episode Guide.
Stop Lowballing! A Lawn Care Business Owner\'s Guide To Success