What are you doing to make your business stand out from the competition in your area? For entrepreneurs and small business owners, this question could be critical to the success of your new business. However it’s a question easier to ask than to answer. The Grounds Guys a franchise company specializing in landscaping, lawn care and snow removal, has developed a customer service strategy that not only fosters customer loyalty and business but creates cheerleader customers who champion The Grounds Guys to friends, families, and neighbors.
A Team Leader for The Grounds Guys, one of seven subsidiary companies of The Dwyer Group®, Pat Hyland states, “From my experience, I believe that the biggest reason that contractors lose relationships with their customers is because they don’t communicate with them. I mean think about it. The only time a customer is likely to see or hear from a contractor’s office is when the bill is due.” As such, The Grounds Guys has used an industry standard of poor customer communication as a means to differentiate themselves from its competitors
In two years, 103 Grounds Guys locations have opened across the United States. At the current rate, the franchise may exceed the original goal of 150 new locations by the end of 2013. A large portion of the company’s success is accredited to the unique way in which customers are treated.
According to Pat, The Grounds Guys as well as all of The Dwyer Group’s subsidiary companies focus on “providing customer service experiences that create cheerleader customers.” These customers are so excited about receiving an unexpected level of customer service and commitment that they share their great experiences with their friends and neighbors.
By focusing on creating a unique customer experience, The Grounds Guys is set apart from the competition in the industry. These franchises offer not only quality service but also a quality experience.
A strong foundation is vital to running a successful business. When a company is able to bypass large issues—such as communication barriers—right from the start, they can put themselves on the fast track toward success.
If you are an entrepreneur, small business owner, or a current franchise owner you could benefit greatly by following the example set by The Grounds Guys franchise. Pat suggests that, in his experience, finding the right combination of systems and technology, allows business owners to discover ways to create an exceptional customer experience that can turn good customers into cheerleaders. Remember, there is a big difference between a good experience with a company and an exceptional one. What type of experience does your company provide?
If you have questions about The Grounds Guys and the work they offer you can find out more by visiting www.thegroundsguys.com. If you are interested in becoming a franchisee with The Dwyer Group you can explore opportunities by visiting www.leadingtheserviceindustry.com.
The heat is on and summer is almost here, and managing the flood of service calls for air condition repair can be as extreme as the heat. To make the most of the cooling season, follow these tips from Aire Serv® Franchise Consultant Tommy Dutton to help keep your business running smoothly, your customers happy and your technicians productive and safe.
“It seems like [the customers] all call on the same day or in the same week, and if an owner hasn’t done their job… it’s a real challenge from day one,” Tommy said.
Tommy recommends recruiting technicians year-round. This ensures you will always have someone you can call when you’re looking to hire. Don’t wait until the last minute to hire someone for the busy season; good technicians will have already found a job by then. Rather, change your approach to hiring.
“What owners really need to be doing is recruiting year-round. You need to have a file of people you’ve talked to,” Tommy said. “Have that reserved list of people ready to go, that helps a lot.”
During the slow season reach out to those technicians you’ve had your eye on, invite them to your shop to have a conversation about your business and to explore what you have to offer each other. When the time is right, you will feel comfortable calling that person in for a job interview. This keeps you in control of the hiring process.
You may have your trucks cleaned and stocked, and inventory ready to go in the warehouse, but without customers, it’s not going to make a difference. The customer service representative is one of the most important members on your team during the busy season.
“Even though the owner may have done a great job in getting the technicians out, if you don’t have the right people answering the phones you’re going to lose business before you even have the chance to get into the customer’s home,” Tommy said.
Make certain that your call center is well staffed and representatives are trained to handle a large volume of calls. The customer service representative is the face of your company.
Additionally, avoid the temptation to schedule too many jobs during the busy months. The added business may end up costing you more in staff resources in the long run.
“Probably the biggest thing for the technician and the owner is to fight the temptation to rush through jobs,” said Tommy.
Technicians should focus on quality over quantity. Tommy recommends allowing 4-5 calls per day per technician. This helps ensure the job is done right the first time, increases the quality of your customers’ experiences, and increases the likelihood that you will have a repeat customer. Businesses that make mistakes due to overbooking and rushed jobs damage their reputation with current and future customers.
In addition to your customers, keep your team members in mind during the busy season.
“When it gets really hot most air conditioning company’s can easily work 24/7 and not stop until they drop, so to speak. You’ve got to be conscious of people’s time and their need to rest and recuperate,” said Tommy.
Put the health and well being of your employees first because happy employees make happy customers.
With a little bit of foresight and planning, your business will make it through the summer busy season smoothly.
Aire Serv employs innovative and established methods to build a strong foundation for a successful HVAC business. Those interested in learning more about Aire Serv’s business systems should visit www.leadingtheserviceindustry.com or call 1 (866) 696-1504.
Like many of The Grounds Guys® franchisees, Danny Williams owned and operated his own independent lawn and landscape business before joining the brand. After 5 years working for a chemical lawn care company, the Arkansan decided it was time to start his own enterprise, and he called it OneSource Lawn and Landscape Maintenance.
Danny admits he has always been close to the lawn care industry. The Grounds Guys brand was a perfect fit. It gave him the opportunity he needed to expand his business.
“A representative from The Grounds Guys contacted me initially and then I started doing some research on my own. The brand has a lot of presence in land care publications, and I saw an episode of ‘Undercover Boss’. After a couple of months, I was convinced this was the choice for me,” said Danny.
Since The Grounds Guys offers management training from industry experts, marketing and public relations services, vendor discounts, and operations software, the support systems brought efficiency to Danny’s business while also giving him more control. Yes, The Grounds Guys is a national company, but Danny claims it doesn’t feel that way to him.
“With a franchise, you get the benefits of a big corporation without being a big corporation,” Danny said. “They have specialists in every department, so I get a lot of support from professionals and from the network of franchisees. I feel like I’m a part of something bigger.”
Danny also likes the professionalism that the brand can bring to his business, and he views the systems as a way to enhance the customer experience and stand out from competitors.
“The availability we offer and our 24-hour call center definitely makes us stand out. We care about our customers, return calls, show up to meetings, and ensure they are satisfied with our work,” Danny said.
Taking on The Grounds Guys name hasn’t meant instant success, but Danny sees the growth potential based on the quality service he is able to provide his customers. Danny believes that every customer deserves the best his business has to offer.
“There’s definitely competition, and trying to set ourselves apart from our competitors is a challenge I’m focusing on right now. I don’t want to cut corners and that makes costs higher, but I think it’s important to be there for our customers,” said Danny.
All in all, Danny looks forward to expanding his business beyond Conway, Ark. into Jacksonville, Ark. and surrounding counties.
Danny and his wife recently welcomed a little girl to their family, and he enjoys ATVs, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing in his spare time.
If you own a lawn and landscape company, The Grounds Guys established business systems may be a way for you to improve efficiency and enhance customer experience. Visit www.groundsguysfranchise.com or call 1 (866) 656-1504 for more information.
You’re stuck. It’s your anniversary and you can’t figure out where to take your wife for dinner—she loves Italian food. You explain the predicament to your friend George; he has just the place for you. “Go to Bari’s! My wife and I eat there regularly and it is great,” he says.You might look at other options, but in the end, you take George’s suggestion because you trust his judgment.
In the case above, George is the type of customer every business wants—he not only uses the product and/or service, but he also recommends it to others, like you, who then use the product/service themselves.
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) attempts to quantify how successful businesses are at producing customers like George. Businesses want to know this information because the Net Promoter Score is based on the principle that high customer satisfaction leads to referrals and growth.
Here’s how it works.
There are three types of customers: promoters, passives and detractors.
The more customer promoters you have, the more likely you’ll be to grow your business and outpace the competition.
NPS data is derived from customer satisfaction surveys including a form of the question “How likely are you to recommend this product or service to friends, family or coworkers?” The question provides respondents with a scale of responses, for example, a rating of 0-10. Those who answer the “likelihood to recommend” question with a 9-10 are promoters, 7-8 are passives, and 0-6 are detractors (they actively tell people not to use the product/service). Detractors are subtracted from promoters to provide the estimate of how many more promoters than detractors the organization has. Obviously, a company wants net promoters.
NPS can be as low as −100% (everybody is a detractor) or as high as +100% (everybody is a promoter). An NPS that is positive (i.e., higher than zero) is considered to be good, and an NPS of +50% is excellent.
Measuring customer satisfaction in the form of an NPS score is not a new concept. Nearly a decade ago, Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, and Satmetrix developed the program, and Reichheld introduced it in his 2003 Harvard Business Review article “One Number You Need to Grow”. Today companies including Philips, GE, Apple Retail, American Express, BearingPoint and Intuit, to name only a few, have adopted a net promoter approach.
Nonetheless, the NPS principle is not without criticism. Some argue that a customer’s likelihood to recommend does not accurately describe actual customer loyalty behavior. For example, a customer may recommend shopping at Home Depot, while also being a recommender and shopper of Lowe’s. In fact, that customer may shop at Lowe’s more and also recommend Home Depot. Others criticize the NPS as a predictor of company growth, citing a lack of scientific evidence to support the “likelihood to recommend” question as a better predictor of business growth compared to other customer-loyalty questions.
In 2008, The Dwyer Group® adopted a customer survey strategy called Operation Synergy™, which is based on the NPS principle. It was a way for the company and its franchisees to become more focused on improving services for its customers. In addition to helping franchisees strategize their approach, The Dwyer Group has put NPS information to work in other ways to benefit franchisees.
First, the customer survey is also used as a marketing tool. For example, if a customer rates highly on likelihood to recommend for Mr. Rooter®, The Dwyer Group will use the opportunity to suggest one of its seven sister brands for other home services, such as Aire Serv® for HVAC needs. Secondly, The Dwyer Group uses its NPS is an asset in developing system accounts for franchisees (system accounts allow locally owned and operated The Dwyer Group brands to work with national companies at their local stores). A positive NPS signals to businesses that the franchise is consistent, trustworthy, and has loyal customers. This makes the franchise a good bet for providing excellent service when compared to other competitors who do not measure customer loyalty.
Ready to start measuring your Net Promoter Score and outpace the competition? You can learn more about The Dwyer Group’s Operation Synergy and integrated business systems for the plumbing, HVAC, restoration, landscaping, glass repair, appliance repair and electrical service industries by calling 1 (866) 696-1504.
Do you really know your customers? Do you know what they expect from a contractor? When a customer is frustrated, do you understand why? As it turns out, we all need to take more time to just ask. Here are three ways that you can get to know your customer—and grow a more successful business. Read more
By Mike Bidwell
I just finished a phone conversation that reminds me of a topic I talk a lot about—marketing to the customer you already have. In the words below, I’m going to share a personal example that drives home the importance of this incredibly simple but typically neglected concept.
I have some commercial properties that require on-going maintenance. I’m a pretty busy guy, so having the right vendors I can rely on with minimal attention on my part is important. I have had the same bug guy who has serviced this property for six or seven years. Way back when, he proactively contacted me when his business was in start-up and sold me on a twice a year preventative ant service. We later added monthly preventative rodent control. My preference is to stay ahead of issues versus treating symptoms after the fact. That’s where the rub comes in when we fast forward several years.