Hedging Unreasonable Landscaping Customer Service Demands
The customer may always be right, but landscaping companies need to also know how to protect themselves from unreasonable client demands and expectations. Customer service for landscaping requires a delicate balance of providing great customer service while not getting taken advantage of.
Luckily, a little planning and communication can go a long way when it comes to keeping everyone satisfied.
The following tips will teach you how to offer amazing customer service without allowing it to hedge into your landscaping job profits.
Get landscaping plant warranties right
A 1-year warranty for plants is a fairly common customer service offering in the landscaping industry.
However, a warranty doesn’t mean that you should be held liable for a client’s lack of plant care and maintenance. So, how can you avoid having to unnecessarily pay out of pocket to replace plants under warranty?
Educating your clients is a good place to start. Walk them through the maintenance while on the landscaping job so that they understand each plant’s individual needs. You can even provide them with a fact sheet afterwards with more in-depth care information.
Consider allowing your clients to contact you by text, phone, or email during the warranty period. This way, you can help them identify issues before it’s too late. The majority of problems are usually an easy fix, such as “water the plants more” or “water the plants less.”
You can also avoid claims by offering maintenance contracts alongside your plant warranties. Not only will this get you more landscaping work, it will also allow you to personally ensure proper maintenance throughout the warranty period.
If a client insists on taking care of their own maintenance, you can offer a shorter 30-day free replacement warranty instead. This will help weed out the plants that are dying due to an actual problem versus a client problem.
Whatever you choose to do for your landscaping business, make sure that the conditions are clearly outlined in the plant warranty. This way, your clients will know what to expect beforehand.
Returns and quality issues for landscapers
When a client wants to return plants, the first question you need to ask is “why?” Is the return due to a quality issue or something else?
For instance, imagine the nursery or supplier decided to swap out your order of a conifer for a different conifer due to inventory shortage, and didn’t advise you of this change. It could be a justifiable reason for the client to request a return.
To avoid this from happening, make sure your suppliers know to run all changes by you first. Otherwise, they should be the ones responsible for the return when the client is understandably upset.
You should also have your on-site staff double-check that they received the right landscaping plants and that the quality is up to your standards. If there’s an issue, they can call the supplier to fix it before the client even knows that anything is wrong.
In short, you shouldn’t be held responsible for supplier issues. And you won’t be if your expectations are clearly outlined in your agreements with them.
Now for a pro tip on the client-side of things: keep detailed notes from your client meetings so that you have proof of what they approved. Since they see a mock-up before the work begins, it’s rare to have disputes on this later on, but you should still do your due diligence.
Avoid underbidding your landscaping jobs
You’ve definitely already encountered clients who want to pay less than what you’re quoting for a landscaping job. Their reasoning is usually because another company quoted them a cheaper price.
You may have even lowered your price to win a job, believing it’s worth it because you’re bringing in money while making the client happy.
The issue with underbidding is that you’re selling your landscaping company short rather than knowing your worth and sticking to it.
While this may be a good strategic tactic to gain clients when you’re first starting out, you’ll end up resenting your clients if you keep lowering your prices for them – especially if it ends up making a job unprofitable.
We know that every job is priced differently due to the different factors at play, but you still always need to make sure that a job is profitable. If it’s not, you need to up your prices. We truly believe that the clients who are willing to pay for your value are the only clients worth working with.
When it comes to pricing, we also highly suggest incorporating a small customer service fee into your quotes. This will help cover the fees associated with your staff trying to correct any customer service issues that might present themselves in the future. You can look at past jobs as a reference point of what to charge, but 5% is a good place to start.
Remember, not all jobs will require extra customer service attention, but at least you’ll now be covered for the ones that do.
Manage landscaping job delays and logistics
A delayed landscaping job is something that no client wants to deal with. While we do understand their frustration when it happens, delays are sometimes inevitable. However, there are some steps you can take to limit delays as much as possible.
First, your landscaping company should have a foolproof process in place to estimate timelines. If you keep encountering delays at the same point across many projects, you should look into why that is.
If you don’t have a process in place and don’t know where to start, hire a full-time project manager or a project management consultant. They can help implement systems that will help get you organized and on track.
When in doubt, always give yourself more time than you think is necessary. This ensures that the client remains happy throughout. If everything goes better than expected, you’ll even finish the landscaping job earlier – which equals an extremely satisfied customer!
Make sure to also have client deadlines in place so you can lock down designs and order supplies on time. We also suggest only working with suppliers and workers that you trust. Because if your workers don’t show up to a job site as scheduled, the client will blame you for it.
If a delay does end up happening, don’t freak out. Simply communicate the delay to the client as early as you possibly can. You should also list all the ways in which you tried to correct the situation. This way, the client knows that it was out of your hands.
Communication is always key in these types of situations. Your client will feel more at ease if you update them on the situation rather than ignore them.
Unreasonable landscaping clients & how to manage them
What about the clients who are unhappy no matter how hard you try to appease them? You will still encounter these kinds of clients no matter how hard you try to avoid them.
The best thing you can do is listen to the client’s complaint without interrupting them or getting defensive. Then look back at the project details, at what went wrong, and assess if your landscaping company is at fault. If you are, apologize immediately and correct the issue.
If it’s not your fault, it’s sometimes still worthwhile to fix the issue anyway. It’s always easier to retain a client than it is to find a new one. Plus, they will be more likely to refer you if you go above and beyond to correct the problem.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should forget everything this blog post has taught you so far. Your landscaping company still needs to have boundaries when it comes to dealing with unreasonable clients.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is move on by admitting that you are not compatible with a client, as long as you do so diplomatically.
Every customer service situation is unique. You should use your judgement on a case-by-case basis to decide the best course of action.
We hope you found these tips helpful when it comes to providing customer service to your landscaping clients. Making your clients happy is important but standing up for your company when necessary is just as important.
Have you ever had to tackle customer service issues for landscaping jobs that were not your fault? Let us know what happened in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!