The importance of lawn care customer service.

It’s one thing to provide lawn care services but it is quite another to do that AND provide quality customer support. As we will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, there are a lot of business ideals out there. Anyone can preach ideals. You should do this, you should do that. But it is not until you get into the trenches that you start to come upon realities you didn’t previously consider. Once you are there, ideally you should figure out how to make things work or you are going to end up hating what you do.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I just started up a small mowing business for my stepsons a few months ago. Things are going pretty well so far. They have five regular weekly accounts and average $32 per mow.

We have two 22″ push mowers and line trimmers along with a blower and edger that all sit in a 5′ x 8′ landscape trailer. The boys are just learning the ropes but I hope to have them up to fifty accounts by this time next year.

I guess you could say my motivation for this is to have the kids learn the value of work and money as the earnings will be put towards college and cars.

As far as picking up more mowing accounts, we are not trying to hard at this point as we want to scale this up at a pace that can be sustained. We have an ad in the service directory of our local paper right now and that’s all.

Right now I am training them on the importance of lawn care customer service and how to do a good job. Once they get all that figured out and do it better than anyone else we will start some more targeted marketing.

Lawn care marketing is not rocket science, Top Of Mind Awareness and word of of mouth is the key. Every market is different but from my past experience it really comes down to visibility.

I think something simple as just showing up can set yourself apart. Most people are conditioned to be disappointed nowadays by poor customer service. I am hopefully going to teach these kids how to delight the customer. It does not take a lot to do. Here are few things we have done that others have not.

  1. Show up every week on the same day about the same time.
  2. Call if you are not going to be there for some reason.
  3. Trim weeds out of sidewalk cracks.
  4. Trim and cut alleyways.
  5. Pickup and remove downed branches after storms.
  6. Spray wasp and hornet nests.
  7. Pet the dogs.
  8. Play with and engage the customers kids.

Pretty simple stuff that helps you become friends with the customer and once that happens your not going to get kicked to the curb by some johnny come lately low baller.”

A second lawn care business owner said “that is fantastic advice and I will back you on that 100%.

Unfortunately as much as I try to adhere to it, I do find myself running into real world difficulties. For instance, ‘Call if you are not going to be there for some reason’ is one step I cannot do.

I find it very aggravating to call a lawn care customer to tell them bad news. It just sounds stupid to make yourself vulnerable. Many customers will usually try to swindle me if I give them a call like that.

For example:

Me: Your grass is too dry, yellow, and if I cut it you will have nothing left.
Customer: Yes, but I think it can use a mow.

The customer tends to think he/she knows what their lawn needs and this becomes a debate between YOU and the CLIENT = confrontation.

To continue on with that example I could respond with the following.

  1. I can destroy/mow the lawn and the customer can feel ‘right’ for a day, then feel embarrassed when they wake up to a yard filled with dirt. Which then makes me wonder why did I bother calling them?
  2. I can just avoid talking to them all together, they can take a hint by having a look at their yard for once, or they can listen to my voice-mail greeting which says, ‘Water your grass or there will be no grass left to cut’ - pretty straightforward, still not perfected!

Instead of calling all of my clients, when they are insecure, they can listen to my voice-mail greeting, because that’s the only answer I can give without getting into a debate with them. I do not like confrontation, because it’s a loss when you have to do something STUPID just to keep your clients happy.

You will be forced to mow that already suffering lawn only to keep the customer temporarily happy and to not lose the client. If you are right by wanting to give the lawn a break - the clients pride will be hurt and they will take it out on you.

The problem is, a lot of customers have too much pride. They want things done for the sake of arguing and being right - unfortunately they are never right, but you gotta do what they want in order to keep them. Sometimes you’d find it easier to just fire these kinds of clients, but I can’t even do that!

In the past two weeks I haven’t mowed a lawn, all of the grass is close to dead. Every single one of my clients has yet to call me, because it’s obvious what’s going on (heatwave + water restrictions)!

I do have ONE client who can’t get a clue. She’s a little old lady who will call me 24/7 for my status and I hate nothing more than a constant caller.

She will say things like (within an hour):

  • It’s me again, just wondering where you are!
  • It’s me again, just wondering if you are coming today?
  • It’s me again, I watered my grass are you going to come?
  • It’s me again, my grass could use a cut?

The problem is, she wont accept my answer. ‘Your grass does not need a cut - it will die if I pass the mower over it today.’

It sounds like she’s innocent and would just like an answer to a simple yes/no question, but she will put me in a position I don’t like to be in by telling me what SHE thinks is right and that I should cut the lawn regardless.

She keeps a cool temper with me, which is why I cannot fire her. I understand that she might be frustrated, but in order for me to answer every single one of her calls and putting up with her ignorance, I’d need to be drunk each and every time. It’s depressing.

She makes me feel like a bad guy, I never answer my phone when she calls but I think my reason is valid. If I avoid her, I don’t end up wasting my time. The problem is then seeing her in person and dealing with the awkwardness. I’m running out of excuses, because the truth may be too brutal for her.

I keep record of how fast I am at each lawn. The majority of my lawns take less than 8 minutes with a two man crew. Her lawn being the smallest, takes 30 minutes or more. She wants to watch, talk, pause me every second to pick up a leaf… etc… She’s the reason I have gone insane and pretty much don’t like what I do anymore.

What do you do then if you can’t show up or don’t think you should mow that day? Sadly, I have to resort to avoiding a few of my customers calls. I don’t want to avoid them, because it gives me a bad image - yet I can’t straight up tell them to stop calling me and that they are irritating me.

I used to not mind speaking to my customers, but as I grew it became more of a headache. Every time it rained, I would know to prepare myself for the following conversations;

  1. Why didn’t you show up? or
  2. Can you do my lawn today, it’s going to rain tomorrow.

They are both arguments waiting to happen and they won’t like what I have to say. I don’t give them a chance to guilt me into doing something that shouldn’t be done, it’s too stressful.

I’ll respond to an email, where I have space and time to think of how to respond/react. Talking on the phone is a trap, the only way out is to do what the customer wants or to be on bad terms and do what’s right.

I find this to be the biggest problem running a lawn care business. If I can solve this one problem I would be happier. It’s hard to tell a client to chill the heck out, because the awkwardness can be really bad especially for the clients that like to be your shadow.

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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