Communication Policies for Commercial Accounts?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by andyslawncare, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 812

    Looking for answers today, after my pops (business partner) met with one of our at risk commercial properties.

    I'm wondering how others around the country handle their communications. I usually go on the "everything is going as planned, and I don't need to bother them..."...I don't have many commercial accounts, so I'm still learning how to read these people--I relate much better to homeowners. Does anyone have a specific plan of action for this type of situation?

    Usually I'll message or call a contracted no more than 6 times or so per year unless we're discussing a design for install or something else. On this property, there is nothing to talk about--everything is done on time and the place as a whole is nearly perfect, and fully landscaped.

    One of our HOA's changed presidents recently. The previous president never informed us until I messaged him with an update on the neighborhood (I received his response 10 days later telling me his wasn't the president anymore, I didn't have the new president's phone number for another 2 months--and now it matters). Our service is being questioned due to this, even though the president and my partner agree that the property is up to prime and we have followed our contract, which renewed just in August 4, 2012. I was slow in communication 1 time about 3 months ago, and it was brought up today (after I have communicated with the president 2 other times in email). My phone calls aren't returned, but I'm suppose to improve communication?

    I'm looking for scheduled ideas and techniques to satisfy people that you don't see when you service the property. 97% of our customers don't contact us on a monthly basis, so we're trying to figure out a communication technique that will keep them informed--the 3% are high end customers usually---in the past 3 months, averaging more than 10% of gross.

    Lets just hear some communication ideas.... obviously, doing a good job isn't good enough for some people---lets all take something away from that. Perfect property, and a bitchy president.
  2. Ben Bowen

    Ben Bowen LawnSite Bronze Member
    from PNW
    Messages: 1,182

    I have several large HOA clients. I have a couple thoughts:

    1- Sometimes you just have to walk a property, let someone complain, and then assure them you will do better. I have done this knowing that we didn't do anything wrong, and I wasn't actually going to change anything either. Just smile and be a good guy.

    2- I try to remember that HOA president is a thankless job. No pay, but a bunch of work and complaints from neighbors. Sometimes they need to show the community or other board members that they are "on top of it"- even when there is nothing to be on top of.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    I have found home owners usually have the time to chat. Business owners on the other hand have no need to chat. Chatting with the guy mowing the lawn is not going to make his business money. HOA boards are the same as business owners. Everything going smooth. Keep board meeting short. Their back home fast.

    The key is "they are questioning you". Questioning you about what. How are you suppose to know when board meetings and elections are taking place?

    The answer is you are not. The board knows this. If the board felt that you needing to know that the president was changed was that important then the board and or president should of informed you. What is really happening here is that the new president wants a way to bounce you out and put in his guy.
  4. Sprinkler Buddy

    Sprinkler Buddy LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 1,185

    "What is really happening here is that the new president wants a way to bounce you out and put in his guy."

    Hit it on the Head! They are putting it in writing so it appears that things haven't been up to par. So legally, they can dump you. The bad thing is, they will get away with it and nothing you do or say will change it from happening if that's their goal.
  5. lukemelo216

    lukemelo216 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ...
    Messages: 1,267

    Thats right. We picked up an HOA this year that had been using the same company for a good 3 to 4 years. I came in and met with the board member in charge of the landscaping submitted my bid according to their specs and we got the contract for 2 years. Specs were simple weekly mowing, bi weekly weeding, trim shrubs 2xs, 5 fert apps and spring and fall cleanups.

    We start doing the work and middle of the year board member steps down and the president takes over the management role of the contract. First thing he does is tirn our contract from seasonal to per occurrence.

    Throught the rest of the year we never received any complaints about our work. I then get a call from the president asking to cut this extra area and i tell them we will once we get a payment because they were 90 days past. This is when everything blew up.

    I get an email stating they would welcome with open arms a letter of intent to terminate contract because we have not been performing to their standards and have received numerous complaints from residence and our communication is terrible. We replied to him asking him to statr the complaints and provide us with dates they filed them with us. His response (mind you 10 days later) was riddled with statements about work not being performed that isnt even listed in THEIR specs and statements saying that they complained about the grass not getting bagged until they complained (which they never did.) the biggest lie they complained about was when some plants were stolen from a sign they wrote " of your cre members or yourself could have at least informed us of the plant theft." my reply to him was that at the time of the theft the original contact was incharge and I informed him by phone and email of the incident. Our response to the email was that they were basically lying to us and that we no longer wanted to service them and that they should work on theor communication skills amongst themselves as and HOA so that everyone is on the same page. I later found out that the president had the first company servicing his property for years and wanted them in there again.

    Thats basically how the HOAs work. Everyone wants them because usually they are decent money but they are a pain in the ass.

    As far as communication with commercial clients its a tough line. Some clients really want communication and others dont really care about it. What we like to do is perform monthly progress reports and just walk the site make notes about the aite etc and we send that to them. On that we put notes etc. We especially do this for our customers that are far away from the sites (shopping center) Some they also tell us during initial meeting they would like to meet onve a month/year etc. Thats really all you can do.
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