Business owners want to know the answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?” Sales and revenue creation are what the business is supposed to do, and when it’s done right there’s always something in it to reward owners’ efforts.

Business has changed over time – and very much so in the past five years. Gone are the days when contractors could make good money just by showing up. Today, you’ve got to look good, react fast and finish jobs with a high level of client satisfaction just to be in the game. So play to win and give every job your best effort.

Clients today have more choices and won’t hesitate dropping you if your service is mediocre in their eyes – and that’s the only perspective that counts.

Successful contractors know that client retention is based upon strong and positive client relations.

Business today is like playing in the big leagues, and to do that you need a good team. Your team must look better and perform better in the big leagues. Also, clients want to see the team hustle. Clean, well-maintained vehicles and equipment, courteous responses and a business-first attitude are essential, of course, but you need more.

My lawn care service provider shows up on my properties about five times a year and his people always look good and perform fast and efficiently. I’m renewing with him again because I am satisfied he is giving me a good deal for my investment. Be sure your clients realize you are offering them a good deal for their investment.

Value-adding suggestions

Offer suggestions to improve your clients’ properties. Use simple phrases such as, “This section would really stand out by adding some color,” or “We can save you water and money by upgrading your irrigation system.” This often results in more revenue per property than constantly hitting clients with sales pitches.

Show customers that you are genuinely interested in increasing the value of their property. Most will appreciate hearing your suggestions if you go about it the right way. You can do this if you’ve convinced them that you’re knowledgeable and you have their best interests at heart. Be helpful and be honest, of course, but also listen carefully to any comments or suggestions they might have.

Customers become extremely frustrated when a contractor doesn’t respond properly to their concerns. Give the matter appropriate thought before responding. Here’s a good rule: Spend more time preparing your response to a client’s objection than the client has spent presenting the objection. Listen to clients’ concerns and share your thoughts in a friendly, helpful spirit.

Your sweet spot

Every company offers services that it performs very well and that differentiate it from competitors. Rarely does a company excel in everything that it does. Identify the service or services you excel at and heavily promote those services.

Do you offer seasonal color changes that make condo or mall entrances look special? Do your mowing crews do a great job striping commercial grounds? Do something that your competitors can’t or won’t do and promote it as a compelling reason to do business with you. Then improve the quality of related services to, at least, a customer-pleasing level.

Better, faster and safer

Make sure your employees consistently show how efficiently you operate. When all employees promote the value that clients receive by doing business with you, you not only earn their renewals, but also their confidence and their testimonials. Ask for testimonials from happy customers and share them with prospects.

Property managers talk at association meetings, and when they make positive comments about your company you get new clients, more revenue and profits.

In discussions with clients, let them know their turf will look better in all conditions if it’s cut a bit higher than the initial job specifications. A slightly higher cut results in healthier turf and, in many cases, requires less irrigation. This also allows you to offer mulching as an option that can be a win-win for both you and the client, because mulching saves time and time is money.

Safety, safety, safety

Safety is on everyone’s mind today. Successful contractors promote their safety initiatives as a benefit to clients. In today’s economy, companies are much more attentive to work place safety and you can partner with clients while operating safely.

Some property managers are now asking contractors for their safety history as part of contract negotiations. Know your workers’ comp experience modification rate, and promote your safety programs. Safety and risk management makes good business sense. Put signs on your vehicles showing your commitment to safety and your number of days without an injury. This will bring safety-minded clients to your company.

Today, contractors must dig deep and be creative when promoting their services. Take inventory of what you do well that clients may not realize and be sure they notice. This will result in more business and profit for you.

Rick Cuddihe is president of Lafayette Consulting Co. He works with companies to improve their operations. Rick is a PLANET Trailblazer and business advisor. Comment or contact him at