Kicking off a new season can be hard when clients decide not to renew their contracts. These LawnSite members share how they deal with the disappointment of losing clients.

Utah Lawn Care: How do you deal with losing clients? Sometimes they have a completely valid reason that they state. Other times they send an email telling you they won’t be needing your services anymore.

A couple weeks ago I sent a letter to my clients. I was just keeping in touch with them and letting them know that in the next few weeks we would update them with the specific day we would start their services back up. I mentioned we implemented a way to pay bills online, etc. I immediately started getting email responses canceling service. Probably seven of my 40 clients. Every email felt like a huge slap in the face. I spend so much money on advertising, and I want to grow my business so badly that it’s hard to feel like you’re going backward. How do you deal with these situations without taking it too personally?

PCLAWN25: There are unavoidable reasons that you can’t get upset about. Customers move, lose jobs, for example, not your fault. I would be worried about why the others left — was it price or quality? You need to find out why before you feel bad. It might be worth a trip to talk to them in person. No better way than a face-to-face discussion.

Ovi: Grief is a natural response to loss. Do a case study to identify your at-risk customers before they show up. Ask your clients why they are unhappy with whatever they are unhappy with. Make courtesy calls when there are no issues; mailing out of the blue is like saying “I am coming soon for my money.” A telephone conversation is a better way to communicate with customers. Face your grief by getting out of your comfort zone. Rebrand, if necessary, get more customers and move on. Above all, know the importance of accepting and coping with change; understanding these could positively lead you to new opportunities.

Utah Lawn Care: I made no changes. One lady said her grandson was going to do it. One guy said he got his mower fixed so he would do his own. One guy told me he hired a more full-service company without asking me if I offered more than mowing. I realize that’s my fault for not making him aware. Another guy who I mow two properties for said he didn’t need my services anymore. This will be the start of my third year in business. I am in a town of 30,000, so my business can only grow so big. My company isn’t old enough to have a large base of loyal customers. I imagine I will add a few loyal customers every year and others will come and go.

PenningsLandscaping: You just got blindsided by a big drop-off. Push hard in the spring sales rush, don’t let anything slip through your fingers. Give new customers some company literature, giving information on services. You’ll bounce back. You’re at this point where your company is growing, and losing seven lawns is a big deal, but you’re just getting larger and the bigger you are, the more you lose each year, because there’s more to lose. It’s business. Maybe a few will come back, but you can’t cry over it. Push hard, do a good job and you’ll be fine.

dKoester: From here out let people know you are a full-service lawn and landscape maintenance company. Do your best work and put all the terms and conditions upfront to let future clients know what to expect and then execute it flawlessly. So you experienced a bump in the road. Go advertise, get some more accounts and limit your churn.

Woody82986: When I started out, losing a client bothered me a little. Now it’s purely a business thing. I don’t get emotionally attached to any of my clients. Yeah, I’m friendly, and I know enough about their lives to be able to make conversation, but I don’t let it affect me personally anymore. Just double down on the word of mouth and other advertising you are doing and get them replaced. In the interim, pump your current clients for some extra work to get some of that lost income replaced. That’s something you should be doing anyway this time of year. Keep up your good work and you will be fine, I’m sure. Also, as your business matures, you will find that you create better, longer-lasting business relationships with your clients.

MLLNYC: There is a positive in every situation. You can use this “mass exodus” as an opportunity to learn where your company’s flaws are (pricing, quality of work, punctuality, appearance, advertising, communication, etc.). Type up a simple list of questions that could give you an idea of where you need to improve or where you need to shift your focus to and go to each of your lost customers in person and ask them. Compare their reasons, and you’ll find at least one commonality. Time spent sulking is time wasted in this industry.

RSMUTAH: Losing even one customer by their choice or situation is a bummer. The good thing is the time of year. Anyone looking for a new option is looking now. One thing that has helped when a customer cancels on me is to simply ask “Is there anything I could have done better?” I usually preface it by saying, “I’m always trying to make sure I’m running things as smooth as possible.” Other than that, oh well! Thank them for the business thus far, and wish them the best.

Mjk1968: I have been in business for 24 years and I have learned that it is very important to understand why a customer cancelled. In addition, it is just as important if not more to keep track of how you acquired the customer in the first place. Let me explain. I, as most everyone else, have a limited budget for marketing, and therefore you want to spend your marketing dollars on campaigns that result with the highest customer retention. A few years ago, I ran three separate marketing campaigns that did boost my overall customer base. A year later I analyzed the retention of those gained customers and two of the three campaigns had approximately 90 percent retention and the third campaign only had 40 percent retention. My service levels were the same for all customers, so I didn’t spend anymore wasted dollars on a campaign that only had 40 percent retention and I learned that sometimes the way you acquire a customer, regardless of service levels, doesn’t mean they are going to stick around. Some customers will always be in a shopping mode. New customers that were referred by another customer have always been the highest in retention. So instead of giving something away, you may want to reward that existing customer for making a referral. Best of luck to you in the growth of your company.

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