In the landscape industry, an account manager has two jobs: One is to increase retention through service; the other is growth through sales. These two are only possible through customer relationship management (CRM). Both a tool and a business practice, customer relationship management drives the success of a business.
In a challenging business environment, customer relationship management is more important than ever. In a recent webinar poll with landscaping companies, over 80% of the attendees stated they are experiencing reduced spending by customers this year. While it can be difficult to manage these changes, it’s the account managers job to work with customers to resolve any issues and create a win-win scenario. With the right CRM skills and tools, managing clients and properties becomes a much simpler task.
Managing the customer’s “balance sheet”
Every customer is different, and their needs are different. Realizing this, you should go into any meeting (virtual or in person) prepared to acknowledge those unique needs. Your customer’s property has value. With your services, that value can increase—and without your services, the value can diminish. When conducting site walks, you should identify property needs and capture notes, pictures, and recommendations in a CRM system.
An account manager can use that information from within the CRM software to explain what is going on at the property. This can be laid out in a balance sheet with a few columns. One column explains what the property already has, the value, and the cost to replace. The other columns would identify potential risks to the property and other ways to increase the value.
Establishing a customer budget
It’s hard to get people to understand budgeting and spending unless it’s explained in relation to something else. Two things can be done in this moment: one, you can identify the cost of replacement; and two, lay the proposal out for the customer. Showing cost of replacement helps put proposed work into perspective and illustrates how, in the end, the customer will save money. Showing the customer a proposal containing recommended work as well as optional enhancements gives the customer control over their own budget and helps them understand the value that you are creating.
For example, the customer may have a beautiful yard that just needs to be maintained, but during the site walk, a broken sprinkler system is noticed. This is something that should be addressed with the customer as a potential risk. If the sprinkler system isn’t working, the grass and plants may die, reducing the current value and increasing potential costs due to replacement.
Taking the time to learn about the customer’s needs and helping them solve potential risks will help build and strengthen your relationship with them. Simply explaining to a customer what they have as well as the risks to their property can go a long way in reinforcing your company’s reputation. Fixing something that is an issue on the property not only helps increase revenue but also benefits your partnership with the customer.
Prior to a customer meeting, your account manager should brush up on the customer’s spending in previous years. For example, what work you did last year, the current value of the work on the property, and the cost to fix it if something went wrong. A CRM system can help an account manager find that information quickly so they can analyze previous spending as well as identify jobs won or lost.
By discussing previous spending with customers, you are continuously reinforcing the value of your previous work, which can help influence their budget for the remainder of the year and into the next.
Insights from reviewing customer budgets
CRM is not only valuable for improving service levels to a customer, but also provides keen insight into the business, especially forecasts. With a CRM tool, you can break down revenue by individual services, division, properties, or look at all sources together. So how does this help the company as a whole? Taking this approach gives the company vision into how much revenue is coming in and the gross margin of each job so that ultimately you can determine which jobs are profitable and which are not. At the same time, you can use this information to develop and improve your 30-day budgets.
Going back to the webinar poll, over 80% of the attendees were experiencing reduced spending by customers this year. By having the conversations mentioned earlier, you can identify the needs of customers, which will hopefully help influence their purchasing decisions. During this time, you are likely trying to minimize the reduction in revenue. These conversations help sell—not in relation to a disaster—but in relation to what they did last year, the value of their property, minimization of risk to the property, and the customer’s overall satisfaction.
All this work—or customer relationship management—helps build your customer’s confidence and assures them that you have their best interest in mind. But it also helps your business forecasting as well. By having these conversations, you can clarify potential revenue from a production point of view. When the long-term future is uncertain, connecting with your customers and clarifying near-term work can help you ensure that your customers will continue to put their trust in your business. With the right CRM tool, this task can be quick and simple while minimizing the effect of uncertain times on your revenue.
For more details, view the recorded webinar on this topic below: