Losing paying customers is never on the roadmap for business owners. While losing some customers over the years is not preventable, other losses could be saved by identifying the most common reasons why lawn care businesses lose customers so you can be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to retaining long-term recurring business.
Here’s the 4 most common reasons lawn care businesses lose customers:
1. Competitors Charging Lower Rates
Being in the lawn care service industry is highly competitive. Competitors who can offer a lower rate to someone for the same work, will always win; given that the quality of the work is also equivalent.
You can’t price yourself out of business with unreasonably low rates that cut into your profits, but there are a number of steps you can take to head off, and win any potential bidding wars that come up:
- Monitor Rates: Check your competitors’ rates on a regular basis to make sure that your rates are comparable; having a firm grasp on the local market will ensure that your services aren’t priced too high or too low.
- Watch Out: Be on the lookout for new lawn care startups that are willing to operate at or near a loss with low introductory rates to scalp your customers away. Being aware of new challenges will allow to you ramp up marketing and educate customers about low introductory rates that balloon later.
- Bundle Services: The best way to charge customers lower rates in the face of competition is to sell them more services. As a result, bundling services into packages will allow you to offer those services at discounted rates without losing money.
It’s important to note that customers often won’t be comfortable telling you that they’ve decided to go with a competitor that charges lower rates. They may offer other reasons for their decision to hide that fact. Read between the lines and let them know their absolute honesty will help you make needed adjustments going forward.
2. Poor Communication
At the end of the day, bad communication and not answering calls is bad customer service.
The best way to retain your customers for years to come is to establish a personal connection with them. Get to know them, along with the neighborhood and their lifestyle. You should aim to do this so well that no other lawn care provider can match your model of service.
Understanding your customers on this level all begins with effective communication. Following these simple tips will help create better communication:
- Offer Options: Different customers prefer different modes of communication; offering varies ways to contact you via phone, email, text, social media, etc., will offer your customers the ability to take the path of least resistance to quickly get a hold of you before they forget, get caught up in something else, or have second thoughts.
- Respond: Responding to every customer within 24 hours, even if it’s just to say, “I’ve received your message, it’s important to me, and I will follow up as soon as possible,” during the peak of busy season is crucial to making your customers feel valued and as if they’re your priority.
Good customer service means being responsive to your customers’ needs and concerns and you can’t accomplish that without having excellent communication with them.
3. Inconsistent Services
Maintaining your lawn care business’ high standards for quality assurance can be a challenge when you have to hire temporary or seasonal employees to serve all your customers. Simply put, a seasonal employee probably won’t put the same level of care or effort into a job that you would have.
When it comes to providing superior services time and time again, these simple tips will help ensure that you hit the mark on every job:
- Book It: Put together an employee handbook that standardizes and lays out some general service guidelines that all employees must follow on each and every job they go to will create consistency in your crews work. It will also provide you with some liability protection if you ever have to ‘punish’ an employee for skimping on services.
- Pair Them: Pairing new hires or seasonal employees with trusted veterans (or yourself) will help newbies learn the ropes under close supervision and ensure quality doesn’t suffer when new employees come on board.
- Check In: Even if you don’t hear from customers, check in with them from time to time to see if they have any concerns or comments about the services you’re providing; stopping by a finished job to make sure it’s up-to-snuff will definitely help you maintain quality control.
Maintaining your business’s high standards no matter how busy you are or how many temporary or seasonal employees you have to hire will prevent customers from leaving.
4. You Need to Raise Your Prices
The cost of doing business is constantly going up, and your business won’t survive for long if you don’t adjust your rates accordingly. Unfortunately, some of your customers may be unwilling or unable to pay higher prices.
First, consistently raise your rates a little bit each year to prevent one big price hike that’s more likely to scare customers off. Consider local factors that impact your cost of business, as well as the consumer price index, which let’s you know how much to increase rates based on inflation. Usually it’s two to three percent.
The best way however, to limit any fallout from price hikes that go beyond that 2-3% is to test price increases on a small group of customers. This allows you to gauge their reaction before you roll it out companywide.
Also, it’s important to educate your customers about why prices are going up. Most of them will understand that overhead costs, fuel, insurance and taxes are consistently becoming more expensive for small business to afford. That will make them more likely to agree to the higher prices and to help support your small business so it thrives.
We know that nothing causes more sleepless nights among lawn care business owners than lost customers and revenue. Being on the lookout for new startups and competitors charging lower rates will help you head off competition with service packages that allow you to offer lower rates. Focusing on communication in your customer service strategy will help establish tight bonds with customers and address any concerns they have that could lead to them leaving. Taking steps to ensure that your quality of service remains consistently high will keep your customers happy. And raising your prices gradually, along with educating customers about why you’re raising them, will prevent widespread losses.