No matter how successful your business is, you’re going to encounter angry lawn care clients from time to time.
Sometimes, it’s not your fault. After all, accidents happen, and we all know about those clients who just like to complain.
Other times, you or your company might be at blame for a situation that can damage the relationship with your clients.
While some lawn care clients simply can’t be pleased, if there’s a chance you can make an angry client happy again… then you should try.
It's much cheaper to keep an existing client than it is to go out and get a new one. All it takes is a little extra effort on your part.
Is This Angry Lawn Care Client Worth Your Time?
Before we get started, you have to consider whether or not this angry lawn care is worth saving. This is a hard consideration for most business owners.
Isn’t the goal to get lawn care clients - not to fire them?
Simple answer: No.
Your goal as a business owner is to make the most profitable business you can.
No two clients are worth the same to your business. They will have different properties, they will have different needs. They probably even pay you different amounts.
So, your first step to appeasing an angry client is to figure out things like:
- Is this a small-time client, or a big one?
- Are your services priced for profit with this client?
- If you fix this problem, will they likely keep complaining anyway?
Click here to listen to our podcast about problem clients, and see how getting rid of your worst 20% of complainers can get rid of 80% of your problems.
If you decide this angry lawn care client is worth saving, and you want to make them happy…
1. Respond Personally
If at all possible, make sure to personally respond to the client. Don’t send someone else to do it, or even worse, a canned response.
Leaving the situation in the hands of an assistant or crew member can make the client feel like you don’t really care about the complaint, especially if the client believes that assistant or crew member is at fault.
So if you want to save a client, always remember to respond personally to the client.
When you respond personally, you’re showing the client their complaint matters to YOU, and you’re willing to listen to their concerns.
2. Listen Before You Speak
This might seem self-explanatory, but for many business owners, it’s a reflex to defend your lawn care business and crew.
First, listen to what the client has to say before you take any action.
While your team will likely fill you in on the situation, it’s important to also hear from the client—and let them know that you hear them.
Ask the client to explain exactly what is going on, and give them time and space to express themselves.
3. Remain Calm
Do not get angry or accuse the client of being wrong. Stay calm, focused, and attentive to their comments and concerns.
You’re talking to your client to show them you care, so it’s important you don’t lose your temper.
Even if you disagree, hear them out and listen to what they have to say.
4. Repeat the Complaint Back to the Client
If they hear you repeat it, they will know that you heard them. Try to use their own words.
Plus, when you repeat the complaint back to the client, they’re more likely to empathize with you as well.
5. Sympathize With the Angry Lawn Care Client
Reiterate to the client that you hear what they are saying, and that you understand they are upset.
Remind your lawn care client that their input matters to you.
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6. Don't Try to "Win" an Argument
Don’t immediately disagree with the client. The object here is not to win an argument with the client, but rather to win their continued business.
Validate their concerns, and let them know that you take them seriously.
Tell them that this sort of thing doesn’t usually happen, that you are concerned that it happened, and that you will address it immediately.
7. Share in Their Disappointment
You may not always want to apologize - especially when it isn't your company's fault.
Regardless, you should show good faith by sharing in your client's disappointment in the situation.
A simple, "I'm very sad this happened," has the same effect as an apology, without actually admitting to any of the guilt.
That said, if your company was at fault, don't hesitate to apologize.
Your goal here is to let the client know that you are taking the problem seriously.
8. Thank Your Client
After you’ve listened to their concerns and apologized for the situation, thank the client for bringing it to your attention.
This will tell the client that, instead of trying to avoid their concerns, you appreciate the opportunity to improve your customer service or otherwise fix a problem within your company.
9. Evaluate the Client’s Expectations
What does the client expect?
Can you properly meet their expectations?
If you can tell them immediately, do so. If you can’t, let them know that you are going to discuss the situation with your team, and that you'll get back to them right away with details about the next steps.
10. Make Things Right
It can be a lot easier and cheaper to keep an existing client—even an angry one—than it can be to land a new one.
And while, technically, the customer isn’t always right, you still need to do whatever it takes to make things right.
Consider these options:
- Go back and fix the part of the job that was done incorrectly
- Give a partial refund or a free month
- Throw in an extra service for free
- Send different crew members to that client on the next visit
Maybe you do all of the above.
Whatever you do, make sure the client understands and is satisfied with what you’re offering.
Make sure that they know that you and your team will do everything in your power to see that the error, incident, or problem does not happen again.
11. Thank the Client (Again)
Thank them for being so understanding (even if they really weren’t), for giving you an opportunity to remedy the situation, for hiring your company in the first place, and for the opportunity to continue to serve them.
By doing this, you’re making sure that your client knows you appreciate their feedback, and you’re going to do better in the future.
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12. Seize the Opportunity to Improve Your Company
While some complaints have more merit than others, your angry lawn care client might be doing you a favor by alerting you to a problem or situation within your business that you might not have been aware of.
Review the incident with your team, and use it as a learning opportunity to raise your company’s game and prevent similar situations from happening in the future.
13. Don't Take it Personally
Even if you were to blame for the incident, don’t take it personally. We all make mistakes and have bad days. Business is business, and you are not your business.
While you might be concerned about how a business problem can reflect poorly on your personal reputation, ultimately, the client is not really upset with you, they are upset with the quality of service your company has provided.
So, take a deep breath and cut yourself some slack—no matter how bad the situation.
14. Reflect and Improve
Take some time to reflect on the incident.
Ask yourself what you or your company could have done differently to prevent it from happening.
Consider holding a team meeting to review the incident and make sure everybody is on the same page about what happened, what you can all learn from it, and how you’ll be moving forward.
Once the incident has been thoroughly discussed, press the reset button, put the incident behind you, and get back to providing your valuable services.
Keep Improving Your Reputation
When things go bad with your lawn or landscape clients, it never pays to “let them get over it.”
It’s your responsibility as the business owner to do something. Don’t ever let it sit and rest.
The 14 tips above will help you repair a damaged relationship with any of your clients.
But it doesn’t have to stop there. Once you’ve successfully turned an angry client into a loyal one, they can help you further increase your reputation.
One of the best ways to improve your reputation is to get high-quality online reviews. There are three categories of online reviews:
- And Outstanding
Angry lawn care clients will try to leave a mark on your online presence. This guide will show you how to deal with these awful online reviews and how to get more high-quality ones.
The better your reputation, the more clients will flock to your business. Good luck!
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Originally published Aug 29, 2017 6:00 AM, updated Sept 22, 2020 3:17 PM