As a lawn and landscape business owner, finding out that one of your guys killed a customer’s lawn is likely high on your worry list. While you always hope that the training you’ve provided is enough, mistakes happen - all the time. Handling the situation calmly and rationally will protect your business’ reputation and make all the difference.
Here’s what to do if a mistake should happen:
1. ‘Fess Up
As with any mistake, the best thing you can do if you kill your customer’s lawn is to own up to the mistake. Though it may be difficult to admit a mistake of this magnitude, trying to cover it up or put it off will only cause you more problems. If you’ve killed your customer’s lawn, immediately take these action steps in communicating the problem:
Be Prompt. Don’t wait to tell your customer about the problem. If they discover it before you’ve had a chance to tell them, they will likely be much angrier, and you’ll have to be on the defensive. Instead, be proactive and take control of the situation.
Be Direct. Don’t beat around the bush when explaining the problem. Be clear and concise about exactly what happened. Your customers will appreciate your honesty.
Be Apologetic. Take an empathetic approach as you talk to your customer about this mistake. While it’s important to be direct, you must be cautious with your tone and demeanor. You want your customer to know that you truly are sorry for what happened and that this isn’t the norm.
2. Discuss Your Solution
After you’ve openly communicated the problem to the customer, immediately explain the course of action you have planned to fix the mistake. Before even talking to the customer, you should know exactly what you plan to do to remedy the error so that you’re prepared to explain your plans. There are two main solutions you’re likely considering to repair the lawn:
Tearing out the destroyed lawn and reseeding is certainly the most cost-effective option—but also the slower one. With seed, it will take some time for the lawn to grow. This isn’t a big deal if it’s only a small portion of the lawn, but if it’s an entire turf, be prepared to inform your customer of the timeline.
Putting down sod is costly but an almost instant fix to the problem as they’ll essentially get a whole new lawn over night. If it’s a valuable customer, it might be worth the investment in laying sod where you tore out the burnt lawn.
3. Add an Incentive
With a mistake of this magnitude, it’s simply not enough to just solve the problem and restore the lawn. The customer will need to live with the mistake while waiting for it to be remedied and will expect something more for their hardship. In order to keep them happy during this time, you should plan to offer something above and beyond. Hopefully, this added attention will also keep them on board as a customer and prevent them from spreading bad reviews about your company.
Here’s a few incentivizing ideas:
A Discount. Whether it’s an ongoing discounted rate or a one-time deal, savings are always an effective way to alleviate some of your customer’s anger.
A Free Service. Instead of discounting an existing service, you might consider throwing in an extra service for free. Do something extra for your client to make their property look nice while they’re waiting for their lawn to return.
A Gift. A gift card to a local restaurant or a bottle of wine can go a long way in saying “I’m sorry.” If you feel the situation warrants an extra gesture, consider what type of gift might mean the most to the customer and go the extra mile.
While killing a lawn is certainly a nightmare scenario, how you handle the situation can make a tremendous difference. By being proactive and offering a solution and an incentive, you can defuse the situation before it becomes even worse. In this social media day and age, word spreads fast, and customers are paying attention to how you handle problems. Make sure that you’re handling them wisely.