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View Full Version : Help with ways to improve my business


exmarkking
01-07-2013, 09:36 PM
During this slow time of winter I have been brain storming ways to improve my business and how I run it. I have a bunch of properties that require all different types of services and would like to try to get everyone and all new customers on the same year round service schedule. I'm worried that if I push customers to hard they will leave in this fragile economy. my end goal would be to have all customers in a certain service area following the same year round service schedule. How do I achieve this while minimizing the loss of customers? Or should I not worry about losing customers that don't fit my idea of where I want this business to go.
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DanaMac
01-07-2013, 10:43 PM
Or should I not worry about losing customers that don't fit my idea of where I want this business to go.

That's it right there. I have certain areas of town that we will not service, to cut down on non-billable drive time, and fuel costs. Learn to take the profitable jobs, and not every single job that comes in. One of the best things I learned to do a few years ago, was to politely say "no", and not feel guilty about saying it.

exmarkking
01-07-2013, 10:55 PM
it's so hard to do. In your mind you don't want to turn down work but what happens is you end up with all kinds of crazy properties all over the place and its a nightmare trying to schedule them and service them. I want everyone on the same schedule so that I can service them and schedule everything easily, which makes us more reliable, dependable, the properties look better, and less mistakes.
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DanaMac
01-07-2013, 11:00 PM
About 5 years ago I made a substantial increase in what we charge, and I lost some customers for it. But the jobs we kept were more profitable, and for every job I lost I had 2 new customers waiting for work. I'm probably a little different than your business, as we are strictly irrigation repair and service, no mowing.

yes, it's hard to turn work away, but it's even harder to keep work that you make minimal or no money on, when there are others available that would be more profitable.

exmarkking
01-07-2013, 11:17 PM
Well put! It's one of those things where years ago I picked up any properties I could get and before you know it your driving all over town to service properties that aren't paying much or want you to do or not to do certain services. I want to restructure the business to where all or most properties get the same services at the same time throughout the year. I want to cater to a certain area/customer and have the balls to turn down properties that don't fit my criteria to build my business. I don't need customers that want you to visit every 7 weeks and others that want you there every 3 days. It's almost impossible to keep track of who wants what and who doesn't. new customers are easy, ill just offer them our services, but the hard part will be getting the current customers switched over. Maybe I should write them a letter saying we are restructuring and tell them how it will benifits their properties and wallet and give them a discount on next month service to smooth them over.
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DanaMac
01-07-2013, 11:23 PM
Good thinking. Sounds like you know exactly what to do.
I also got rid of the property management companies that had 20-80 rentals for us to take care of. Out of town owners who weren't there to make decisions which resulted in second trip back, cranky tenants that would only meet after hours of the weekends, tenants would adjust the controller after we left to keep their water bill down, etc, etc, etc. They just did not fit the model that I was building my company towards.

Good luck!!

exmarkking
01-07-2013, 11:57 PM
Exactly! I want my truck in front of nice properties. There have been times when a customer only wants us to cut the grass, and the shrubs are 15 ft high. Someone passing by would assume we aren't pruning them when really the customer doesn't want to pay for it. also from a scheduling stand point. If we could schedule all properties for weekly visits, trimming of shrubs three times a year, ect it would be so much easier to keep on top of everything. I think there would be less mistakes. Right now every propertiy is pretty much custom tailored for the customer and not for our business. When you have 60 something properties to maintain, it's about impossible to keep track of who needs what, or who is paying for what. I think if I could offer them a calendar of when and what the property needs throughout the year, the customer would feel like we are taking better care if the property. I don't think their monthly payment would go up much because right now they are paying per cut plus extras whereas if I just give them a set monthly price year round they can budget better, know what to expect each month and it would help us out greatly with billing and cash flow
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cpllawncare
01-08-2013, 01:49 AM
What I'm doing this year is putting the services into three levels, basic, plus and full. each one has a specific amount of work that gets done, other options are listed but charged for accordingly. In addition I made a 15 mile circle from the shops address and that is ALL we will service as far as maint accounts go, landscape jobs can go out further, probably 20-25 miles out but not much further. I'm currently in the proces of choosing a customer list, billing, scheduling and routing software such as Jobber to automate everything. We advertise as FULL SERVICE and push everybody in that direction as much as totally possible, IE: if the shrubs and beds aren't maintained we push for either plus or full service account not the basic mow and go service, I have told customers that we are full of mow and go clients this year so they are kinda forced into the plus or full service account, trickery I know, but it works and we don't get blamed for unkept shrubs and beds and such.

exmarkking
01-08-2013, 09:06 AM
Very good idea. I think you could set it up like a car wash with the bronze, silver and gold package type thing. See for so long when I was younger and just starting out I would let the customer tell me what they want and I wasn't much if a sales man. And that's ok because you want the customer happy but a lot of those properties don't fit my business model now. To be profitable and productive I think you have to set it up like an assembly line, or like McDonald's builds a hamburger lol. That's have found the most efficient way with the least mistakes. For for lawncare, you just tweak it a little. You have to give the customer some options to suit their needs because the options should fit your business model and all be profitable, in a certain service area.
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exmarkking
01-08-2013, 09:07 AM
Sorry for all the typo's, I'm typing on a cell phone
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CircleC
01-08-2013, 03:05 PM
I work solo and have worked hard to maximize cash flow from every client. Some customers only want mowing and thats fine only counts for about a dozen or so of my 50 customers. One thing i have done is gone to a level payment system. My full service customers pay the same amount every month from march to december. I take all service and divide by the 10 months. I found that more customers are willing to pay $250 a month set amount vs a changing amount monthly. Some customers in spring were getting 700 bills. Few mows spring fert spring clean up irrigation turn on and so on. Some customers started dropping services due to changing bills and i was losing out on the money. Or payment was slow. With the level pay they decide on services charge as normal and divide by the billable months. I get payed faster and people are willing to pay for more. I will mainly do this for long term customers and people who are not price hunters. It has worked out very well and people have been happy.

If that want mowing mow it....next season i turn them into full service customers. After a season you get a good idea on the customers abillity to pay and what they are looking for. You always run into the guy/gal who likes to prune the few shrubs they have.

Good luck....
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Jobber
01-08-2013, 05:24 PM
I was talking to a client asking him what they did before the season to prepare. He mentioned that one of the focuses they have in the off season is reinforcing the amount of referral business they get by being proactive.

They call all of their customers to confirm the upcoming work and at the same time do everything they can to get at least 2 names from each existing customer they have. Depending on the customer, they sometimes offer a small discount for the referral but usually people are eager to help you out if you do a good job for them.

Whenever possible, they get the current customer to make the introduction for them! Not sure if in person or what? It's the same old story of word of mouth advertising being the most effective - they just give ppl a little extra push.

Just an idea but one I thought could bring in a lot more $$$!

Jeff

larryinalabama
01-08-2013, 05:48 PM
I figure were in the service business and the customer wons the house so I basically do what they want.

Two changes Im in the process of doing is only taking on irragated accounts, and trying to push more winter time work.