Informing Clients...

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by cahermit, Jul 21, 2006.

  1. cahermit

    cahermit LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    How do you guys go about informing customers of changes in business procedures? Such as new late fees, dog poo disposal fees, "turn off your damn sprinklers when you know I'm coming" notifications, and all of these types of things. I'd like to direct it to all current clientele. Do you guys use like a formal letter, or a newsletter with other random info in it, phone calls, or what?
     
  2. Joe65

    Joe65 LawnSite Member
    from nj
    Posts: 93

    I bill out monthly invoices which has a space for general messages, this is where i inform all customers of any changes, i just added an 8.00 late fee for anyone over 30 days late, stated it as a rebilling fee charged to me by my accountant.........i have approx. 70 accounts and most pay on time but so not to single out those who don't i make it a general message....also this is where i remind everyone to call for trimming or cleanups whatever i feel may be coming up, and of course the do not water on the morning of your cutting day! Twice a year i send out a flyer with the billing to let them know of all my other services, mulch, stone, planting, retaining walls ect......it has worked to get me alot of extra work this year........
     
  3. Freddy_Kruger

    Freddy_Kruger LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,064

    Me I'm kinda shy about all that I wait till new seasons unless I don't like them either. One thing I want to do is to create a distance between myself and my customers, they are always chatting it up with me.
     
  4. Ed Ryder

    Ed Ryder LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 541

    I send out a newsletter with each invoice discussing business matters and providing insights into who I am as a person. A recent survey shows that my newsletter is mostly viewed favorably. One customer even felt I should charge extra for it!:dancing:
     
  5. IML8RU2

    IML8RU2 LawnSite Member
    from BC
    Posts: 10

    That's a great idea LawnGuy. You should post a copy.
     
  6. Ed Ryder

    Ed Ryder LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 541

    My last newsletter is too long to post probably. I discussed various things, like how a young kid walked on to my trailer like he owned it. I decided to let him have his fun for a moment as I got ready to unload my rider. Then he immediately walked up to the rider and pressed his hand on to the muffler! (It was cold.) Another time I saw a different young boy playing with a pitchfork on a mulch pile as I mowed next door. He set it down with the tines up! On my next pass I was going to correct that. But then he drives up and over the mulch pile on his bike like he is Evil Ka-nee-val, and the pitch fork was right there! He had set himself up for a mortal injury. I got his mother. She gasped at the news. Three weeks later, there was that pitchfork again, tines up, on the mulch pile. I discussed how I found my step-dad all bloody on the kitchen floor after an artery in his neck had ruptured (he died the next day). I discussed how we had a flood in our basement because of a clogged gutter! I talked about my other businesses, which involve travel and art. And I discuss what is happening with the grass business. It's all pretty interesting stuff.

    If you are not good at writing, then you can make yourself look like an @ss. You have to be careful in creating written materials that are for your customers.

    For me, the newsletters strengthen my bond with the customer.
     
  7. cahermit

    cahermit LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    Ya I figured the newsletter thing would be best, biannually. As far as writing about my life, I'd rather they just know that I mow their nice properties and it feeds my family, allows us to live in a crappy little dwelling, and sustains my mediocre life of working towards living somewhere without automobile traffic and grocery stores (like the forest!)....
     
  8. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    I also do a newsletter monthly but I try and limit it to horticultural issues. It is a good way to keep them informed of new technology in the industry and soft selling new services products etc. But mostly it's to inform the clients what is going on. What were pruning and why, what we are fertilizing with and why, what its time to plant if they want to grow vegetables etc. This also limits my calls with redundant questions like when is it time to fertilize the roses? How come my sages are not blooming etc.?

    I would suggest spending some time up front decide what your policies and procedures are going to be then put it in a contract form. Then write a letter explaining you are working to make your company more professional and you may need some financing in the future for land etc. The banks will require contracts to show your income stream and you are just trying to get ahead of the curve. All of this is true of course so you kill two birds with one stone. You accompany two signed contracts with the letter and ask them to return it. I would send this seperate from the billing and I would offer to meet in person if they have issues to discuss.
     
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Same here, I can't stand it.
    Fact is if there exists an ongoing problem I find explanations are almost always a waste of my breath (and patience as well).

    Late fees? That's for non-payers, those are already on their way out the door, I will not and do not tolerate non-payment issues. Usually, for everybody whom I think just forgot, on the very next bill I add the note 'prompt payment ensures continued service.' But if I have to go as far as putting in a late fee, to me the late fee is a scare tactic to get them to pay not on time, but to get them to pay at all, so once it gets to that point, we're almost always done.

    Sprinklers? I just remember those with the systems usually water in the morning, so always show up late afternoon on a full-sun day, which gives it time to dry out.
     

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