“When we have a customer call to say how pleased he or she is with our work, we recognize the crew at our Tuesday morning meeting,” Kevin says. “We give the foreman a certificate, along with a cash bonus to take his guys out to lunch.” To be fair to those crews servicing customers who aren’t so inclined to call in with praise, account reps and management can also recognize outstanding crew performance. In other words: Hard work does not go unnoticed at Asset Landscaping.
“You have to set your people up to succeed, inspecting what you expect along the way,” Kevin says. “Employee goals and rewards then have to be tangible if you expect employees to help you reach your overall company goals,” Matthew adds.
Targeting a New Clientele
Prior to joining forces with Matthew in 2005, Kevin and his former partners serviced a lot of apartment complexes. Now, given Matthew’s background as a property manager, Asset Landscaping focuses on the HOA market. “I spent the first year out hustling for business with Matthew attached to my hip,” Kevin recalls. “To get up to speed on the landscape business, I also spent a lot of my time reading, and talking with our supervisors and foremen,” Matthew adds.
Instant Communication, Ongoing Education
With reliable equipment, employees and supervisors firmly in place, the Asset Landscaping management team has been able to direct the majority of its attention to sales and service. “Our objective is to provide customer service, education and communication that is leading edge,” Matthew points out.
Matthew regularly entertains clients and attends HOA board meetings. Asset's two customer service managers also help develop rock-solid relationships with property managers. In addition, Asset Landscaping is involved with several area property manager associations.
An e-newsletter helps educate customers on topics such as water conservation and the importance of proper shrub maintenance. This one-page PDF is emailed monthly to Asset Landscaping’s customer list. Matthew says this once-a-month frequency is ideal.
When customers have concerns or if problems arise in the field, a response time of literally minutes is ideal—and is made possible by a structured mobile messaging system. Here’s an example of how it works:
- A property manager calls the Asset Landscaping office to say he or she has a downed branch
- The admin person who took the call sends an email to all employees with an Asset Landscaping email account
- Management, customer service managers and supervisors all have BlackBerries, so anyone can read the message and respond to it immediately
- Supervisor #1 has a crew in the vicinity of the property … he replies-to-all that one of his crews can stop by to clean up the branch
- Supervisor #1 then calls his foreman (all foremen have company-paid cell phones) to give him instructions on cleaning up the branch
- Either the customer service manager or admin staffer who took the initial call from the customer calls that customer back to inform him or her that the situation is under control
“It’s a microwave world, and people want it now,” Kevin reminds. Asset Landscaping’s quick response time can mean the difference between customer retention and customer attrition.
Education is also increasingly important. Asset Landscaping likes to develop three- to five-year plans for its HOAs. During tough times, you sometimes have to deviate from those plans. “The trick is getting the property manager back on the plan as quickly as possible,” Kevin points out.
These days, Kevin and Matthew agree that property managers are still feeling some pain, but things are getting better. For instance, where $4,000 in badly needed irrigation repairs were put off last year, a property manager is willing to spend $500 or $1,000 this year to keep the problem from getting out of hand.
“Those who flat out refuse to do anything probably won’t be our customers for very long, and that’s OK,” Matthew says. Asset Landscaping is in the business of “enhancing your environment” (so their slogan states). And as Kevin reminds, “These are just mowers, not magic wands.”
A proactive approach to property management and client communication has helped this Phoenix company more than double in size over the past four years. That doesn’t happen by accident. That happens when you have a plan. Asset Landscaping has a plan—and it’s working.
Landscaping for an NFC Powerhouse