How We Did It
- Team approach to client management with clear, convenient flow of information from clients to crews
- Horticulture experts act as primary point of contact
- Develop one-, three- and five-year landscape plans to continually offer change
- Formally recognize long-term clients
- Develop relationships with individual property owners with HOAs and condo communities
- Focus on training and best management practices to drive out waste and improve quality
When Bostonian Steve Pruchansky sold his furniture distribution business and retired to Florida, he had a feeling that boredom might set in after a while. He was right, and soon began looking for a business to invest in.
A business broker introduced Pruchansky to Linda Nelson, owner of Greenscapes of Southwest Florida. At that time (1991), Greenscapes was still a small company with just a couple of crews. Today it has more than 30, employing nearly 250 people during peak season.
The company has spent the past 20 years growing—and growing and growing. More recently, though, Pruchansky and Nelson have begun to adjust their priorities. "We've gone from a focus on quantity to a focus on quality," Nelson says.
Quality, of course, has always been central to the Greenscapes mission. However, the tight economy has compelled the owners to embrace a much broader commitment. Both Nelson and Pruchansky have come to realize that, in the highly competitive world of commercial landscape maintenance, attentive service and deep client relationships have become invaluable tools in the quest for customer retention.
New approach to client management
Greenscapes has adopted a team approach to client service. This ensures that each property is visited more often. Plus, clients enjoy the benefit of contact continuity.
Each Client Services Team has two leaders: a client services manager and an operations supervisor. The services manager acts as the client's primary contact, helping establish the vision for the property. All seven of Greenscapes' client services managers have horticulture backgrounds.
The seven operations supervisors, each of whom communicates directly with their respective client services manager, are in charge of executing the vision on each property. Each operations manager oversees roughly 30 to 50 employees. The number and size of crews vary greatly, as some of Greenscapes' larger accounts require massive on-site crews of eight or more people.
Crews are not the only personnel to regularly visit properties. Both the client services manager and operations supervisor also make frequent visits. This helps improve quality and ensure that any issues are handled promptly. Additionally, Nelson has worked diligently to restructure routes so that any given crew is never more than 10-20 minutes away from any of its properties.
Client services managers conduct monthly horticulture reviews, which go directly to the operations supervisors for implementation. Additionally, landscape audits are conducted annually, helping client services managers to work closely with clients to develop one-, three- and five-year landscape plans. Irrigation audits are conducted every two years.
Relationships that run deep
In commercial landscape maintenance, Pruchansky says it is no longer acceptable to simply provide great customer service. "You must enrich your client's landscape, constantly bringing them new ideas," Pruchansky adds. "People enjoy change in their landscapes—not in their service providers. Building relationships is the key to success."
In 2011, Greenscapes thanked 10-plus-year clients with a $500 "Gift of Appreciation." Client service managers were empowered to work with clients on how to spend that $500, such as by planting a new tree. These long-term clients were also presented with a plaque.