Years ago I used to dread this time of year, when temperatures soar and the sun shines bright. At Grunder Landscaping Co., we provide a one-year warranty on all the plants we install, and by the time late July rolls around, I can pretty much count on seeing plants on our clients’ properties that have died because they weren’t watered enough.
When I was first starting out in our industry, I would pray our clients wouldn’t notice these so we wouldn’t have to explain they had failed to follow the care instructions we provided them and that our warranty didn’t cover that.
But then I realized these dead plants were actually an opportunity for us to demonstrate our value to our clients and deepen our relationship with them. Now, instead of hoping they don’t notice the problem, we point it out, but we are careful in how we frame the conversation. So I or my team will say something like:
You know, Mrs. Smith, I have to be blunt. This plant died because it didn’t get enough water, and that isn’t covered by the plant warranty we offer. However, we enjoy working with you and I’m not going to let something this small get in the way of us continuing to do business with you. If we bring out a new plant, do you think we can come up with a better plan to get it the water it needs?
I also know how busy this time of year can get, so if you don’t think you’ll have time to water more, I’d be happy to look into adding your property to our water truck’s route. There would be an extra charge for that, but would you like me to see if we can have them come out to do some of this work for you?
By approaching the problem this way, we are clear and honest about what caused the plant to die without overtly pointing fingers. We show them that we value the relationship we have with them, and that we are committed to exceeding their expectations. And, by suggesting how our services could prevent this problem from arising again, we demonstrate the value we deliver and open the door for more work with them.
As Dalton, our director of design-build, likes to remind our team, “Plants are cheap; opinions are priceless.” And he’s right—it’s a whole lot easier and less costly to replace a plant than it is to replace a valued client. What’s more, happy clients have a way of spreading the word about your company to their friends and neighbors. In business, opinions really are priceless.
See you next week!
Discounted Hotel Rate Expires July 26
We’re heading to sunny San Diego August 6–7 for the fourth annual NALP Field Trip with Frank Mariani and Marty. Join us and go behind the scenes of the San Diego branch of LandCare, a national powerhouse with a local focus. This is a rare opportunity to see how a major company that’s figured out operations, training, and culture on a large scale applies that knowledge at a $6M branch and how you can too at your business.