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High Performance: Happily left alone

November 13, 2019 -  By
It's just as important to focus on the small accounts that would prefer to be left alone as it is the big ones that need more hands-on attention. Photo:

It’s just as important to focus on the small accounts that would prefer to be left alone as it is the big ones that need more hands-on attention. Photo:

In many businesses, there are three types of customers.

The first type is the VIP customer. Often very demanding, these customers provide prestige and bragging rights, but may not actually be all that profitable due to the demands they place on the business. All too often, they’re a huge pain to deal with, especially when they require the owner’s or senior management’s involvement.

The second type is the large account customer. These customers require a dedicated account manager but, unlike the VIP customer, the account manager doesn’t need to be one of your top people. These customers may or may not be very needy, depending on the type of property and scope of services, but they do require one-on-one attention. If managed properly, these customers may be very profitable. However, it is important to factor the costs of maintaining the relationship into your profit analysis.

The third type is the small account customer. Often called “house accounts,” they aren’t large enough to deserve a dedicated account manager. Renewals and communications are handled by mail or email, and may even be automated. The beauty of these accounts is that every single one of them should be profitable. There is no reason to keep a small account that doesn’t play by the rules, create drama or in any way cause them to become unprofitable.

The nice thing about small account customers is that, for the most part, they don’t want to be bothered. They’re busy people with other priorities. My residence is maintained by a large local landscape company. I know the name of the company but that’s it. I am happily left alone. If they were constantly pestering me with communications, offers, etc., I would quickly become irritated and find another company.

It’s interesting that they never asked about my preferences, yet are giving me exactly what I desire — silence. They show up every week all summer and every time it snows in the winter. They do their job and leave. Once a month, they hit my credit card and everyone is happy.

Reflecting on this, I wonder why more businesses don’t pursue the small account customers. I know several that are making a killing by focusing on them.

What about you? Which types of customers do you have? Are you strategically engaging with each type appropriately? If not, what changes might you need to make?

Now go forth.

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Phil Harwood

About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

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