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View Full Version : Tip Of The Day - 12/2/05 - Getting Cancelled Customers Back


Sean Adams
12-02-2005, 05:28 PM
I was speaking to a guy in Baltimore yesterday and we were discussing different aspects of owning and operating a fertilization/weed control service. One of the things we discussed were some of the bigger companies in the industry - TruGreen, Scott's etc...

Not too long ago a guy who worked for a TruGreen branch and then decided to go out on his own was telling me about the sales process at TruGreen - he was telling me a better part of the fall and early winter months is not spent prospecting or approaching new potential clients. In fact, he said their highest rate of sales usually comes from disgruntled, angry customers who had cancelled in the past.

Now I'm curious - how many of you go back to previous clients who cancelled your service? If you do, how do you do it? Very interesting to me...

bobbygedd
12-03-2005, 02:53 PM
tell us HOW these companies try to lull thier disgruntled customers back. i'd venture to say THE ONLY WAY they do it, is by offering cheaper prices . they do the same bad service, but since weather plays a major roll in the success of thier programs, if they get lucky and have a wet summer, or not too hot, the lawn improves, and they come out smelling like a rose. but they do not "go the extra mile" to make it better. they throw luck to the wind, and hope it works. i once subbed all my stuff out to a VERY SMALL chain service here. he was the smallest around. he had 7,000 clients! if i serviced 7,000 clients, i could easily kiss some buttock and offer reduced rates if they'll try us again. but the average lco, profitting pennies on the dollar, can't possibly do it. as for me, my disgruntled customers always come back. once they see how the other guy hacks thier place up, they know with me the work is good, and all they have to deal with is a bad attitude. they all crawl back.

Sean Adams
12-03-2005, 03:51 PM
won't argue with that - I'm sure price reduction is part of it...but is there more to it? what is the actual approach? Do they call and eat-crow or act like it is procedure/protocol? Is it at all possible for company the size of your's to do this? Maybe an assurance that whatever was incorrect or lacking int he past will be remedied in the future and a free bed weeding to go with it? I don't know - just an example....

bobbygedd
12-03-2005, 05:17 PM
very tough one, i'll tell you why. in a operation like the chain services you mentioned, it is USUALLY not the fault of the operation when the desired/expected results are not achieved. they are dealing with treating grass, the best results depend on the heat, the rain, and the customers cooperation. when things don't work out, it's usually NOT the operations fault. i don't do many fert programs, maybe 45 tops, and i'll tell you that it's a nightmare to get them to water, not over water, not under water. and when they do screw up, it's always my fault (not). so i imagine these big fert companies have learned to bite thier lip, things like this will always happen. they rely on mass clientelle, and expect a certain amount of turnover every season. i think when they call back a former client, and promise to do better, for a 15% discount, they are basically just doing the same thing, and hoping mother nature or the customer comes thru by doing what they are supposed to do. as far as my operation: i have had cancelations because- unreliable. to the customer, unreliable means...after 11 days of heavy rains, i can't do thier lawn FIRST. can i correct that? no, never. i've had cancelations because- i get a bit edgy when i'm not paid on time. can i correct that? no, i can't. i'm already, in alot of cases, extending interest free credit to complete strangers, no, i can't correct the payment policy, it's ALREADY too lenient. i've had cancelations because- i charge accordingly for everything i do, instead of giving things away. can i correct that? no, never. about the only thing i can do, is maybe not yell, "get the hell off the lawn" when i pull up, and the customer is out in the yard.so i look at all the reasons clients have cancelled me, and i think no, i can not call them, and try to get them back. NOW, if they call ME, (like most of them do), i can discuss with them the reasons things didn't work out, then one of us apologizes, then i say "it's ok", and we try again. but my operation doesn't rely on a mass amount of customers, like the true greens, etc. one other thing to consider...when an individual is unhappy with truegreen, they say, "i'm unhappy with TRUEGREEN". WHEN THEY ARE UNHAPPY WITH ME, THEY SAY, "I'M UNHAPPY WITH BOBBYGEDD." it's a bit more personal

Envy Lawn Service
12-03-2005, 09:08 PM
Sean,

The answer is pretty simple really. Much more than you might think. The thing is these companies do large volume. They also rely on the law of large numbers, ect. Ask enough people and someone will bite...

The reason there process is to go back to lost customers is to work and upsell the client base. By that I mean they think outside the box. They run on the assumption that it is easier to re-sell someone who bought from them before than to approach and sell a new prospect... and essentially it is.

So these companies consider their ex-customers as part of their client base, whereas others do not. So what they do is instruct their people to "work the books" hard. In doing this they skip many steps in the sales process.

First of all it costs them zero time, effort and money to generate a lead. All the leads are already pre-qualified too. After all, they have already bought before. So they already know they want, need, and have the ability to buy.

Heck, it's all pretty simple really. All they really have to do is motivate the ex-customer to buy again. Lots of times it's not all that hard because people cancel for a million and one reasons other than being so mad they would never buy again.... and even for that there is a tactic.... just give the lead to a different salesperson. Often it's easy to restore faith by just sending someone new. It's easier for them to smooth things over.

olderthandirt
12-03-2005, 09:23 PM
Most do a hard sell, By that I mean they tell you what there gonna do and when there gonna do and at the end after a big sales speech they say is that OK? You would be surprised at the # of ex clients are afraid to say no, at least till they have done 1 treatment. And don't you know that 1 tratment is always the best, the 1 that shows the most results. Pretty simple and very affective

Sean Adams
12-03-2005, 10:54 PM
I agree....I guess it would be interesting to hear some of the conversations though...

Envy Lawn Service
12-03-2005, 11:10 PM
I agree....I guess it would be interesting to hear some of the conversations though...

Ever hear of a "fact finder" interview?

Pretty simple sales concept and technique that can be molded to fit nearly and sales call... pretty much Sales 101 with a twist... the twist being to go into it with the goal of finding out why they canceled. (fact finding)

Then once the facts are on the table, they turn those into an opportunity to make a new sale... and on to the second chance sale closer.

Show genuine concern, discover the problem, regain trust, close the sale with a promise.

bobbygedd
12-03-2005, 11:50 PM
give us a detailed example, of how one of you, have done this

Envy Lawn Service
12-04-2005, 12:06 AM
give us a detailed example, of how one of you, have done this

OK Bobby... better yet... are there any ex-customers who dropped you that you would like to have back?

If so, we can start there and I can show you what the benefits are that apply to you and I... the small operation. I can also show you how you can play with this over the winter and put it to work benefitting you.

You can do this without sucking up, begging or cutting rates.
It's not about those things...

It's about communication and tactics.

yrdandgardenhandyman
12-04-2005, 12:06 AM
give us a detailed example, of how one of you, have done this


I'd like to see this myself. If it truly works, it could revolutionize the sales part of the biz.

bobbygedd
12-04-2005, 09:13 AM
ok, i have this customer who cancelled me. she said i was unreliable. first of all, she was not a good customer to begin with. she committed to a weekly mowing service, then would call me off when she thought it didn't need it. then, when it rained, she wanted me to be at her house first day it stopped. she paid her bill late EVERY SINGLE MONTH that she was on with us. her lawn takes less than 6 minutes total to service, for $30. i'd love to have her back, but: need her to commit to a weekly service, and stick to it this time. need her to understand that after 2 weeks of rain, she isn't first on the list. need her to pay on time. customer #2- cancelled me because he said i wasn't bagging his lawn, when he did pay for bagging. i cut it with a 21", with a catcher on, and did an imaculate job. he claims he gets grass on his feet when he walks on the lawn, tracks it in the house, and it's ruining his $9,000 carpetting. i say there isn't a blade of grass left on that lawn. how can i get him back? #3- she cancelled me because she says i didn't put down lime, but charged her for it. i use pelletized lime, and she watches from her window. i applied a 50 lb bag over 2,000 sq feet. she claims she couldn't see the pellets on the ground, and accused me of charging, without applying. she's 80 yrs old. i demanded payment, and got it. she cancelled. how do i get her back? thank you

yrdandgardenhandyman
12-04-2005, 02:52 PM
ok, i have this customer who cancelled me. she said i was unreliable. first of all, she was not a good customer to begin with. she committed to a weekly mowing service, then would call me off when she thought it didn't need it. then, when it rained, she wanted me to be at her house first day it stopped. she paid her bill late EVERY SINGLE MONTH that she was on with us. her lawn takes less than 6 minutes total to service, for $30. i'd love to have her back, but: need her to commit to a weekly service, and stick to it this time. need her to understand that after 2 weeks of rain, she isn't first on the list. need her to pay on time. customer #2- cancelled me because he said i wasn't bagging his lawn, when he did pay for bagging. i cut it with a 21", with a catcher on, and did an imaculate job. he claims he gets grass on his feet when he walks on the lawn, tracks it in the house, and it's ruining his $9,000 carpetting. i say there isn't a blade of grass left on that lawn. how can i get him back? #3- she cancelled me because she says i didn't put down lime, but charged her for it. i use pelletized lime, and she watches from her window. i applied a 50 lb bag over 2,000 sq feet. she claims she couldn't see the pellets on the ground, and accused me of charging, without applying. she's 80 yrs old. i demanded payment, and got it. she cancelled. how do i get her back? thank you


How in the world did you even let these, "cream of the crop" clients get away? Go back, offer them all 5 free mows. at their convenience. That should get them back, set a pattern and put you on the road to a great bankruptcy.
No sir. I don't think I'd really want them back. Most clients I lose, I'm always better off.

J&R
12-04-2005, 06:31 PM
The ONLY way i would take a costumer back is with a 50% increase in price.

ed2hess
12-21-2005, 05:35 PM
TruGreen comes to EVERY one of our commericial properties each year and tells them that they will guarantee that they will beat the present bid. Obviously that takes away any thoughts that we have of raising these properties.

Envy Lawn Service
12-21-2005, 09:28 PM
Bobby, glad I finally got an email notification today when Ed posted.
I never came back to this thread before now as I had assumed it died...

ok, i have this customer who cancelled me. she said i was unreliable. first of all, she was not a good customer to begin with. she committed to a weekly mowing service, then would call me off when she thought it didn't need it. then, when it rained, she wanted me to be at her house first day it stopped. she paid her bill late EVERY SINGLE MONTH that she was on with us. her lawn takes less than 6 minutes total to service, for $30. i'd love to have her back, but: need her to commit to a weekly service, and stick to it this time. need her to understand that after 2 weeks of rain, she isn't first on the list. need her to pay on time. customer #2- cancelled me because he said i wasn't bagging his lawn, when he did pay for bagging. i cut it with a 21", with a catcher on, and did an imaculate job. he claims he gets grass on his feet when he walks on the lawn, tracks it in the house, and it's ruining his $9,000 carpetting. i say there isn't a blade of grass left on that lawn. how can i get him back? #3- she cancelled me because she says i didn't put down lime, but charged her for it. i use pelletized lime, and she watches from her window. i applied a 50 lb bag over 2,000 sq feet. she claims she couldn't see the pellets on the ground, and accused me of charging, without applying. she's 80 yrs old. i demanded payment, and got it. she cancelled. how do i get her back? thank you

Really Bobby I can't see why you would want any of the 3 back. But to each their own and it's not for me to judge. So basically, you would have to go back on these 3 accounts and do some fact finding. Frankly, I think the first thing you are going to have to find out is WHY THEY REALLY CANCELED.

This is not easy to do because often people don't really want to tell the straight of it. But I can give you some conversation approach angles you can use to find out one way or the other if you are really serious about reclaiming these 3 customers.

But my guess is that these 3 were just looking for an excuse to use.
My guess on the real reasons...

#1) Could not afford you or felt she deserved priority service for paying $30 for 6 minutes.

#2) Just an excuse or unreasonable expectations. Sorry, bagged or not, walk in grass and you will get grass on your feet, especially when you walk in the morning dew to get the paper. Complain to the paper boy...

#3) Just an excuse, felt you overcharged for lime app, or honestly "pre-senile"

YardPro
12-21-2005, 09:48 PM
i would think that most of the re acquisitions are becuase the service provider they had after cancelling the "big Boy" was not really any better than the "big boy" was....

how many times have you gone somewhere and had crappy service and swore you would never go back... only to start going back months later??????

happens a lot at fast food places in particular.

YardPro
12-21-2005, 09:52 PM
ok, i have this customer who cancelled me. she said i was unreliable. first of all, she was not a good customer to begin with. she committed to a weekly mowing service, then would call me off when she thought it didn't need it. then, when it rained, she wanted me to be at her house first day it stopped. she paid her bill late EVERY SINGLE MONTH that she was on with us. her lawn takes less than 6 minutes total to service, for $30. i'd love to have her back, but: need her to commit to a weekly service, and stick to it this time. need her to understand that after 2 weeks of rain, she isn't first on the list. need her to pay on time. customer #2- cancelled me because he said i wasn't bagging his lawn, when he did pay for bagging. i cut it with a 21", with a catcher on, and did an imaculate job. he claims he gets grass on his feet when he walks on the lawn, tracks it in the house, and it's ruining his $9,000 carpetting. i say there isn't a blade of grass left on that lawn. how can i get him back? #3- she cancelled me because she says i didn't put down lime, but charged her for it. i use pelletized lime, and she watches from her window. i applied a 50 lb bag over 2,000 sq feet. she claims she couldn't see the pellets on the ground, and accused me of charging, without applying. she's 80 yrs old. i demanded payment, and got it. she cancelled. how do i get her back? thank you


well bobby you have come on here multiple times and confessed fo not applying the fert/grub control.. etc.. to pita customers after they have paid for it.. so your credibility on that one is questionable...

there will absolutely still be grass clippings on the lawn even with bagging with a 21...just not as many....