Scale client relations

December 28, 2015 -  By and

Everyone knows companies that have solid client relationships have successful businesses. As your company grows, how do you take the client information in your head and put it where all employees can access it and take action based on it?

Also, how do you capture the information your employees are receiving so everyone is on the same page?

Plenty of experts suggest implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) software program, but we suggest holding off on that investment. Before you spend the time and money on a potentially pricey program, determine what information you need and capture it. Start on paper. Various studies show about half of CRM implementations fail because of a lack of focus and commitment or due to using a CRM as the only solution. Sound familiar? How many other programs have you implemented with similar reasons for failure?

To get started collecting client data:

  • Determine the exact information you want to capture per department, such as maintenance, construction, irrigation and interior plants.
  • Set goals to collect this information for 10 clients a week. Pick a number, and drive accountability daily.
  • Review the information, and file it in a notebook or Excel.
  • Always update the file, which should be a living document that changes regularly and is handy whenever you discuss or prepare to visit clients.

Also, show your employees how this information helps everyone, including them. When you make collecting data a part of how you manage your day-to-day business, it won’t be a task anymore. It will be your repository and part of how you conduct business. Using this information will help you and your employees achieve your desired professional image and provide a better client experience.

We all have clients with specific property needs, such as:

  • Don’t perform services on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • We only want white flowers.
  • We only dislike pink flowers.
  • Mow the field twice a month during growing season.
  • Use hand pruners for shrubs instead of hedge trimmers.

And how many times have we made mistakes even though we know the requirements? Additionally, be sure to capture fun information, such as birthdays, hobbies, pets’ names, professional background, educational experience and favorite sports teams. Knowing more about clients and using this information will build better personal and long-standing relationships with them.

And what happens when you change your client’s company contact? With this data, you have a client biography and you know how to better serve him or her. Nothing is more frustrating for a client than to have to train a new employee about his or her specific needs. By reviewing customers’ CRM data in the initial introduction meeting, your team will be able to wow your clients.

An evolution

As you begin to use this tool daily, you’ll determine some information is beneficial, and other information isn’t. You’ll decide to add different data to your repository, because you’ll look for client data that’s not available. It’s better to determine these needs as a team in the ramp-up phase of your program.

This winter, implement a manual CRM. And remember, the information in the system is only beneficial if you use it. Once you make it through a season or two using this method, find the right CRM program for your company. At that point, you’ll know exactly what data you’re tracking, so searching for a software program and implementing it will require minimal effort.

Because you already will have successfully driven the CRM program internally, you won’t become a part of the failed statistic for CRM implementation. Instead, you’ll ensure success in a new system that helps your employees provide an outstanding client experience.

Photo: iStock.com/olivierlemoal

James Cali and Jason New, former landscape industry executives, are the principals of McFarlin Stanford, a business-coaching firm based in Dallas. Reach them at james.cali@mcfarlinstanford.com and jason.new@mcfarlinstanford.com.

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