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5 Lawn and Landscape Business Mistakes

Grow your lawn and landscaping business by offering excellent service.

Running a lawn and landscaping business isn’t always easy, and you face challenges such as hiring issues, flaky customers and competition from everyone with a lawn mower. But providing top-notch service is one way to stand out above all the rest.

If you ask many customers, finding and hiring a good lawn or landscaping company is no easy task. I’ve been in that position as a customer, and have seen the full gamut of service issues in the past year. I had to hire a company to maintain my property while I was out of the country for a year, and I’m in the processing of hiring a company to remove a large tree.

Based on my many experiences getting bids and working with lawn, landscaping and tree companies, here are five lawn and landscape customer service mistakes, and the service lessons they offer:

Having a wonky website

As I’ve gone through the process of getting bids for removal of an overmature hackberry tree in my yard, I’ve encountered many weird websites. Some tree removal company websites have an online form that asks the customer to submit their information, but then they fail to respond to inquiries. In one case, I submitted my information and got a strange follow-up email that didn’t name the company and mentioned electrical services. I imagine the company hired a cheap or inexperienced website provider that slapped up a site and forgot to change the copy from a previous client.

Service lesson: If you’re going to use a website for lead generation, invest the time and money to make sure it’s done correctly and maintained well. And always respond quickly to inquiries.

Complaining to prospective clients

Showing up to take a look at a property and make a bid offers a chance for your service to shine. But too many lawn and landscape providers throw away this valuable opportunity by complaining about the state of the industry, offering too much information or failing to provide a written bid. One service provider I spoke to talked for 20 minutes about hiring woes, which made me doubt his ability to provide consistent lawn service for the year I was going to be out of the country. I wondered what would happen if his workers quit or got sick.

Service lesson: Think of the bidding process as your chance to make a great first impression on a customer. Show up when you say you will, keep the conversation focused on what needs to be done, stay positive and provide a written bid promptly.

Not having the right equipment

I recently got a bid from a highly rated tree service. The owner of the company, while looking at my tree, mentioned that the job really required a crane. He then told me he no longer has a crane, because he sold it, which morphed into a story about some personal issues that led to the sale of said crane. He then told me he still thought he could do the job, but I already had decided not to hire him due to doubts about his having the proper tools.

Service lesson: Make sure you have the right equipment to do a job before you head out to make a bid. If you’re unsure you can do a job, tell the customer you’ll need time to check availability of equipment and that you’ll get back to them promptly.

Ripping out plants “willy nilly”

Before leaving the country, I hired a landscaping company to do a yard cleanup to get my home ready to list on Airbnb. I initially talked with the owner, who seemed knowledgeable and competent. But then he sent inexperienced workers who randomly ripped out several plants I loved. It was very odd: they ripped out sky pencils and camellias on one side of my yard, but left the ones on the other side. And they mowed down an entire bed of lantanas in full bloom on one side of my fence, but left the bed on the other side. That experience was enough to make me part ways and seek out yet another company.

Service lesson: Make sure your employees have enough training to identify plants, and that they go into a job with clear instructions.

Leaving customers in the lurch

I finally hired a company to maintain my lawn while I was out of the country, and all seemed to be going well. I had a neighbor caring for my home, and she occasionally talked to the lawn care workers to make sure they avoided the lantanas and trimmed the holly properly. One day I received an angry email from the wife of the company owner, stating they were quitting. Apparently, they’d been annoyed with my neighbor but had never told me about the issue. The way they handled the personality conflict struck me as extremely unprofessional since I was never told there was a problem.

Service lesson: If you have issues with a customer, be mature and professional. Address the problem calmly and never quit in a huff. If you need to part ways, give notice.

Even if you have more work than you can handle, providing top-notch service will set you apart from many other providers and allow you to be choosy about the customers and jobs you accept so you’re left with the cream of the crop.