Elizabeth Rudd and stepdaughter Jay Laman run the San Antonio, TX, go-to place for outdoor power equipment, C&L Mower Service. Together, Rudd and Laman work to maintain deceased father and husband Bob Laman’s focus on what quality customer service should be.
Honest and hard-working, they focus on taking care of their employees and working right alongside them to meet the needs of customers. While it is a male-dominated industry, the women at C&L are certain that customer service is gender neutral.
“I really do not know that our shop being women-owned and women-run makes it more competitive, but it is definitely rare in this industry,” says Laman. “Good customer service is gender neutral. You either can provide it or you can’t—and your customers will tell you if you can’t.”
Rudd and Laman maintain that customer service should be the focus in order to be competitive. They make sure they account for the growing female customer base that is coming through their doors. A clean showroom and no-pressure sales tactic is what they use to put the female customers at ease.
“Outdoor power equipment is not just a man’s domain. The women using and purchasing equipment are growing in numbers,” explains Laman. “We provide an environment where they can grow their interest and confidence in their abilities while also providing a safety net for them when they need service.”
Committed to education
With a customer base that is 73% consumer, they educate customers on equipment while providing knowledgeable and friendly service. Having a knowledgeable employee base is the first step in the direction of quality customer service. Product knowledge helps in finding the right equipment for the customers’ needs and gaining their confidence and trust in the dealership.
“When we outfit a customer with a piece of equipment, we want to make sure they are getting what they need and not just what is available,” says Laman. “We are not looking to be a one-time stop for anyone walking through the door, but rather an informative go-to place that they can rely on for an honest answer.”
Educating staff is done not only so they can meet the needs of customers, but also to show they are invested in their employees’ success and advancement. They put into employees exactly what they expect to get out in return.
“Our employees are like family and we don’t treat them any different than we would our own,” says Laman. “They want to learn and they want to pay that forward. The work that comes out of our shop is a direct reflection of everyone involved in keeping us a cut above the competition.”
They have worked hard to develop a knowledgeable and empowered employee base. Their office manager is Stihl-certified and all employees are encouraged to attend specialized training provided by the manufacturers of product lines they offer.
“We strive to maintain a high level of experience and education to ensure that we are bringing leading-edge service to our customers,” says Laman.
Most manufacturers offer specialized training that Rudd and Laman make accessible to all of their employees. They believe the experience gained from working with the equipment is irreplaceable, and helps them to better communicate what they learn with service customers.
“We strive to make the best decisions we can for our business and try to look at every aspect of how it might affect our business,” says Laman. “We continually try to see ourselves from the viewpoint of our customers so that we may change accordingly for the better.”
Rudd and Laman’s achievements and plans for the future have been made possible through maintaining Bob’s vision for what superb customer service really is.
“Customer service was always at the top of my dad’s list, followed closely by the best possible quality and value for the dollar,” says Laman. “We have always shared that perspective.”