In the lawn care industry, customer turnover is a certainty. People move; customers cancel. Every year you’re faced with the issue of recruiting and securing new customers. Many business owners focus their time and resources on pursuing new leads through advertising, displays and pricing. Although these efforts are necessary in any business, if overdone, they could end up hurting you in the end. Instead, focus your time and energy on your loyal customers. They may only represent 20 percent of your customer base, but they make up more than 50 percent of your sales.
The idea of focusing on the best current customers should be seen as an ongoing opportunity. To better understand the rationale behind this theory and to face the challenge of building customer loyalty, we break down your customers or potential customers into four categories:
- Loyal Customers: You should be communicating with these customers on a regular basis. They can and should influence your buying and merchandising decisions. Nothing makes loyal customers feel better than soliciting their input and showing them how much you value their opinion. The more you do for them, the more willing they are to recommend you to others. Offer them an incentive for referring new customers. Market to their neighbors.
- Discount Customers: These people are looking for the best deal. They help insure inventory turnover and can be key contributors to cash flow. However, they also can wind up costing you money because they are more inclined to complain, resulting in callbacks.
- Impulse Customers: Everyone likes to serve this segment of clientele. There is nothing more exciting than assisting this type of customer and having them respond favorably to your recommendations. Target your advertising toward this group because they will provide you with a significant amount of customer insight and knowledge.
- Need-based Customers: People in this category are driven by a specific need — seasonal assistance, specific pest problems or needing a particular service. You can’t always satisfy these people, but if you offer exceptional service, answer their questions and provide solutions to their problems, they may become loyal. They can often represent your greatest source of long-term growth.
The competitive pressure has never been greater, and it’s only going to become more difficult. To be successful, you need to fully understand your current customer base and the behavior patterns that drive their decision-making process.