How do you retain your current year customers?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by BC1230, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. BC1230

    BC1230 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    First off let me start by saying I've taken alot of what I have learned on here while lurking/posting last year and this spring. Actually its been all season since I've posted on here(been extremely busy running this co, and working full time) lol but here goes. This was our first year in ligitimate business. We've turned a small profit so far but anyways... We have about 12 accounts that we provide services to on a regular basis. Only a couple of those actually have a signed contract, others are just a verbal agreement etc. I know the season is far from over, but whats the best way to know you'll be back next year? I don't want to have to "start up" all over again. Do you send something out? Talk to them before the season is over? Call them before things get growing next year? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks
  2. maelawncare

    maelawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 442

    I send them a coupon for 1 free mowing the following year. Sucks money wise, but almost always guarantees them coming back.
  3. BPS##

    BPS## LawnSite Senior Member
    from WY
    Messages: 828

    Its unlikely that you'll ever be able to retain 100% of your clients year to year.

    One thing I've found effective in the past for your residentials you don't have under contract is to send them a christmas card with a calendar for the coming year. This puts your name back in front of them during the off season along with a calendar that keeps your name in front of them.
    I've been known to send this to the ones I wanted to keep and the customers I wanted to provide enjoyment to my competition I wouldn't send them a christmas card. Usually this worked very well in spreading the "fun" customers to my competitors.

  4. BPS##

    BPS## LawnSite Senior Member
    from WY
    Messages: 828

    If you do that don't EVER give them the first mowing of the season. Not every body but there are some folks that would take advantage of your free mowing and then tell you to hit the road.

    Make sure the free one comes a month or two into the season.

    I'm thinking of doing a refer friends/neighbors/family get free mowings program for next year.
    If current customers refer some one that stays for the season they'll get 2 free mowings in the summer. One maybe in may/june time frame and one in August.
  5. BC1230

    BC1230 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    I've read that christmas card idea before. I think that one is for sure on our to do list.
  6. mrplowjr_ez_v

    mrplowjr_ez_v LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    I'll second the christmas card idea, My dad has been in the plowing business for 40+ years and has done this since day one. He has a 95-98% retention rate including moves and deaths. It may sound obvious but doing things right goes along way as well.

    Its the little things that you can do that will make the customer remember you next year. "Hey my lawn guy did such and such for me last year" Communication is key, but not too much, let the customer know you're thinking about them, and respond to calls quickly.

    Thats about all I've got, you're a business, you don't need to give away your time unless you owe it to your customer. If they are satisfied they will come back.
  7. Glenn Lawn Care

    Glenn Lawn Care LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,645

    I talk to my customers before spring hits to see if they want to continue service. I have had 100% retention for 3 years now.
  8. cutbetterthanyou

    cutbetterthanyou LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,178

    Send them a letter at the end of the year thanking them for there bussiness and tell them that you'll see them in the spring. If they hired me this season i look at it as they hired me peiod, not just for the season, unless that was disscussed. I always come back unless they fire me. About febuary send another letter asking for ppl to start reserving and landscaping jobs early, so that you aren't rushed once grass starts growing. In this letter I also put something like, I hope you had a good winter blah, blah, blah, I will start cutting your lawn the week of apirl 1st(may very year to year) if there are any cancelations notify me asap. Don't ask if they want you back. Make them tell you not to come back. To me it makes it harder for them to get rid of you, and as you get new customers you don't have to wait for the go ahead from each one.
  9. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,096

    I have a very high return rate with just providing great service. I do send out Christmas cards but I don't mention anything business wise on them. They have my name and my wife's name on them and that's it. When spring rolls around I send out letters letting them know we will be back to business as normal as soon as things get warm enough, what day of the week we will service the property and if they will be morning or afternoon. The biggest thing is to be open and communicate well while providing great service. The accounts that leave for cheaper price can enjoy the service they have coming to them.
  10. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 7,961

    I raise prices 30% and offer 50% discounts.

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