What your clients think of your company and how they perceive your work performance is many times the difference between success and failure. Once clients feel comfortable dealing with you and know that you are their best service provider, they can become customers for life. Loyal customers don’t just knock on your door and order work, though, you have to earn their trust and satisfy their needs over time.
One company that has developed a brand that exemplifies “customers for life” is Mariani Landscape of Lake Bluff, Illinois. Frank Mariani runs the company along with his management team and has clients he has worked with for more than 30 years.
Mariani says “creating a brand is one of the basic building blocks of creating and maintaining a success-oriented company. Once you have determined what your brand is, it is everyone’s role to never waiver.” Mariani Landscape is a third-generation company and the largest privately owned residential landscape company in the United States.
Successful landscape companies develop a brand that separates them from their competitors. In the clients’ mind, they provide the highest value and perform the best service in the marketplace. Price is not always the best way to promote your brand and company. Convincing clients that the company is the best overall value and emphasizing quality is a large part of brand management. Your goal should be to present a value proposition that lets clients know you operate efficiently and provide good services at the lowest possible price because you are a well-run company.
Here are three ways to upgrade your company’s brand.
1. Promote sincerity
If you excel at design/build jobs, let the market know. If you are weak in maintenance or not competitive in lawn care service, don’t tout that in your brand messages. Clients know when you’re stretching the truth, but appreciate it when you tell it like it is. Successful operators are consistent and sincere in all their promotions and advertising messages. The website, brochures, signage, vehicles and signatures should all speak to your brand message. Pick a simple way to deliver the message for your brand; don’t dilute the brand message by going into every detail. You want clients to remember one positive thing about the company, not be confused by numerous slogans or messages.
2. Relate to clients
Your brand should speak to clients from their perspective, not yours. A good brand gives clients the impression that you are their best choice and will take great care of their property. Your employees are your lifeline for client relations, and they should relate your brand message, too, letting clients know they care about how their property looks.
Community activities and public service projects are excellent ways to promote your company and brand. Successful companies partner with clients to provide community services. This is a very impressive way to promote your brand. You’ve heard the saying “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Always stand for your brand, and never disparage a competitor. It is always best to speak highly of competitors; it shows you understand how the market works.
3. Secure testimonials
Let the marketplace know when you have a very satisfied client who offers a testimonial about your company. Testimonials have to be earned and offered, not requested. Publish testimonials on your website and brochures and make sure account managers and salespeople mention testimonials when talking to prospective clients. Happy clients are assets that increase company value and drive new business development. There’s no better way to promote your company than by telling the market what clients think about doing business with you.
Your brand tells current and prospective clients why they should do business with you and not your competitors. Brand management is one of the most important and compelling opportunities to grow business and advance your company’s position in the market. If you have not branded your company, get started this fall developing a quality image with a brand that tells clients how good you are and why they should use your services.
5 Ways to Deliver the Best Service
Without excellent customer service, a business cannot thrive. Dave Murray, a customer service expert who has worked with clients such as Carnival Cruise Lines and Anytime Fitness, says service aptitude comes from previous life experiences and work experiences, as well as current work experiences. Here are Murray’s five tips for the ultimate customer service experience:
- Make price irrelevant.
- Have compassion and empathy.
- Know your customers. Follow the FORD rule: Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams.
- Do more asking and listening rather than talking and waiting.
- Eliminate negative verbal cues.
Remember, Murray says, “your customer service is the only competitive advantage you have.”