Let’s Grow: It’s time to say yes

March 30, 2016 -  By
Jeffrey Scott

Jeffrey Scott

Imagine you could say yes to every single request your clients make, no matter the request! How would it make your clients feel? And how would it make you feel?

The attitude of “just say yes” is how we grew our business from a one-product company—just swimming pools, no decks, no landscaping and no service—into a multidivisional landscaping enterprise serving some of the most successful and prominent homeowners in the nation. We responded positively to their requests, and we figured out how to get it done.

To better understand this approach, let’s first dive into the reasons why you might want to just say no.

Reasons to say no

Too busy. You’re just too busy going in a hundred different directions at 65 mph, and if you take on one more request, you’ll drop all the balls. You simply don’t have time to say yes. Ah, but there’s a problem with showing your clients that you’re too busy: It makes them feel uncomfortable having to depend on you. If they think you’re overwhelmed, they won’t feel comfortable referring you to their colleagues and friends. They don’t want to dilute the service you’re giving them by sharing you with others. What kind of impression are you leaving with your clients?

If you feel like you’re too busy, you need to make a change. Don’t let your clients see you sweat. Make it look easy, as if your capacity were overflowing when it comes to their requests. Be the one serene provider in a sea of rushed and incompetent vendors that are adding to (not subtracting from) their clients’ stress. Be the company that’s easy to do business with, by saying yes to their requests without complaints, a wrinkled face or a mutter under your breath. Do you smile no matter how you feel or how busy you are?

Full schedule. If your schedule is literally full, you need to work extra capacity into your schedule so you can handle these requests—especially from existing clientele. If you already use white space and it’s a last minute emergency, you also can give clients a choice of paying for double overtime or waiting. Clients like choices, and you’ll be surprised who decides to spend more money for quicker service and who decides to wait. (Though your top clients will expect miracles, so be ready!) Are you managing your schedule on a proactive basis?

You don’t do it in-house. A homeowner once asked us to have a wild animal removed from his property. We balked, and because of that and one other incident, we lost him as a service client. That was too bad because he was highly connected with hundreds of our clients and potential clients. It’s OK to say yes to something you don’t do in-house, then proceed to help the client figure out how to get it taken care of, or simply place the call yourself to the outside vendor. You should have a black book of trusted resources. Is your black book ready to handle the odd job?

You don’t agree. Your client may call with a complaint or request based on a false assumption or based on bad horticulture. It’s OK to say yes and let clients feel like they’re right, while you discuss with them the larger issues at hand. Have you ever role played with your employees how to say yes in these instances?

The benefits of saying yes

By just saying yes, you keep the back door closed and you keep your phone number as the one and only number clients will (ever) need for their outdoor needs. My research shows that all contractors who’ve been in business for more than a few years have a client right now talking to one of their competitors for something to be done on his or her property. They’re doing so because they don’t know you do a certain kind of work, you acted too busy last time they called you or something’s not keeping you top of mind with them. By always saying yes, and by being a joy to do business with, you’ll retain more clients and gain more referrals.

Once you decide to “just say yes,” you have to decide how you want your employees to respond after they say yes. You also have to decide what systems need to be in place to support this attitude, what level of empowerment you need to give your employees and what work you’ll do in-house versus sub out versus hand off to a vendor.

You need to be prepared to “just say yes.” It starts with an internal attitude, and it ends with good people and proven systems.

photo: ©istock.com/mcsilvey

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About the Author:

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author, specializes in growth and profit maximization in the Green Industry. His expertise is rooted in his personal success, growing his own company into a $10 million enterprise. Now, he facilitates the Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners—members achieve a 27 percent profit increase in their first year. To learn more visit www.GetTheLeadersEdge.com.

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