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A selective approach

November 17, 2012 -  By

Choosing maintenance clients carefully makes Cutting Edge Lawn Care a success.

Todd Tindel, owner of Cutting Edge Lawn Care in Austin, Texas, says he takes an “old-fashioned” approach to business. He keeps things simple and focuses on customer service. As the owner

Todd Tindel, Cutting Edge Lawn Care, Austin, Texas

Todd Tindel, Cutting Edge Lawn Care, Austin, Texas

of a $1.6 million company that does almost all maintenance, Tindel is also selective about the customers he works with and the work he tackles.

“We get asked about other work such as design/build, but we’ve always primarily focused on the maintenance end,” says Tindel. “We only handle irrigated yards, and we screen for customers that want weekly service at a minimum. We want to make sure the yards stay alive, so if they can’t meet those criteria, then we pass on them as customers. That means we do turn down a lot of people. But we want to best service our clientele and in order to do that, we need to be on the property at least once a week, if not more.”

Tindel shares more about his selective approach to business and why it’s helped grow his customer base.

Q – What top trends are you seeing in the maintenance business?

Communication is key. We’re old fashioned in many ways and we find that works. Customers just want a company they can rely on. One of the biggest complaints we hear is that landscape companies don’t show up on time or they don’t communicate. We try to be consistent and also maintain that communication with our customers. It sounds so simple, but it goes a long way. When you get busy, one of the first things you might do is ignore the phones or put a customer off for a few days, but that’s something that we never let happen.

The little things count. We do what we say we’re going to do, we have all our employees wear uniforms and we’re fully insured. These sound like little things, but they go such a far way. We also try to give people more than they pay for and we guarantee all our work. We also own up on our mistakes. It’s just the right thing to do. If we ever break a window, we pay for that. I’ve run into other companies that tell the homeowner it’s “just the risk of hiring a business.” But we always pay for our mistakes. That’s how you keep customers for the long term and prevent negative talk.

Q – How about top obstacles?

The economic downturn. Like everyone else, we’ve definitely felt some of the impact of the economy. We lost more customers in the last year than we’ve ever lost. However, that being said, it wasn’t that many. We generally don’t lose a lot of customers, and that goes back to doing what we say we will. The economy also has introduced more competition. The guys that are looking to make a quick buck are always out there—as are the customers who are looking to save a buck. And that’s fine. We’ve learned to live with that. We’ve got an A rating on Angie’s List and customers see that. We’re insured, and we invest in our business. While we may lose customers to the guys that don’t charge as much, the bottom line is that in 10 years we’ll still be here and those other guys won’t.

Finding quality people is always a challenge. They’re out there, but you have to look hard. We try to pay more than the industry average and that does help attract a higher quality pool. We also give vacation and pay vacation. We can’t afford to pay for health benefits, but we try to do other nice things for our employees to keep them happy. When we have good quality workers, we want to keep them.

Q – What opportunities are out there for you?

Adding a segment. We plan to make more of a move into landscaping, which will be a big growth opportunity for us. We’ve always just focused on maintenance, but I have an employee right now that loves the possibility of design/build work, so we’re going to expand into that. At some point we may consider getting into pest control, but we recognize that takes a larger base. If you’re only going on a property twice a year, you need a pretty big base for growth in that market.

Besides possibly expanding into some new services, we see the biggest opportunity for growth is to continue doing what we do.  We really believe that the old-fashioned ways of just doing what you say you’re going to do is what helps grow a business. It’s definitely what has worked for us.

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About the Author:

Payton is a freelance writer with eight years of experience writing about the landscape industry.

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