Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] (Team Gopher @ Jan. 15 2007,10:18)]Hi Joe,
Welcome to our forum! After being in business for 21 years, do you have any business suggestions or words of advise to the newer business owners who may be reading this?
I have a bunch of advise. How good it is I can't say. LOL... Getting late here but I will mention the most important thing that came to mind when you posed the question Team Gopher. It was essential to my business survival over the years.
#1 Hang on to them customers, they tend to come back...
I still work for some of the very same people that I worked for in the beginning. We include estimates for our seasonal maintenace packages at the same time we are trying to aquire the contract. It assures the customer that we intend not only to create a beautiful landscape for their residence but that we will also be there to keep it looking sharp. It puts our company back in their yard and our trucks with big signs, on their streets, right in the peak of the landscaping season!
After landing some of my first few design and installation projects, I serviced the heck out of those customers over the next few years. If I was in the neighborhood doing an estimate or something, I would stop by and speak with them. Often times it turned into a walk around the property and basically a free consultation on plant care, but often times it led to additional work. At the time I entered the field new homes were being built everywhere in this area. Many of my competitors went from house to house with new installations but provided no future maintenance options on the completed projects. They took the quick profit and quickly moved on.
This worked well into the early 90's but then the new construction slowed and many of these companies with high over-heads began to crash. At that same time we had over 230 annual spring and fall maintenance packages to complete, as well as additional projects from repeat customers which kept our schedule full despite the decrease in new homes.
Sometimes it was a pain taking care of the "little needs" of these customers, but as it turned out it was worth it as in some cases I have landscaped the same customers new homes, three times. It's as if when the moved, they took us with them.
At this time approximately 75% of our work comes from repeat customers.
I will be happy to add more to this thread when time allows.
Hope it was a useful suggestion!