August 2012

As I walked around my yard on Saturday, I realized that our decision to change landscapers was ill-advised.  I hadn’t seen our account manager since the first walk-around in early April.  This caused me to think back to our former landscaper (who will be rehired, mind you) and the things he used to do.  This was all occurring in the aftermath of a discussion with a prospective client about transparency.  It made me realize that my former landscaper was not only a great landscaper, but also a model for the New Normal.

There are some easy differences between my current and former landscaper.  The former guy always told us in advance what a project or application would cost, as well as the benefits of doing it and the cost, both short and long-term, of not doing it.  Our old landscaper would regularly stop by the house when he knew we were home and ask us to walk the lot with him so we could identify things they had done that we liked or did not, areas that we thought they should focus on, developing problems and so forth.  Maybe 15 minutes in all, but it really made us feel like he was concerned about our lawn.  In contrast, we haven’t heard from our current guy since April.  Not good.

Our old landscaper responded to email the day we sent anything to him, and he would give us notice when the guys would be there to service the lawn so our dogs were inside.  Our current guy, not so much.  Who would have thought that communication with a yard maintenance guy would mean so much?

I wondered how our experience translated.  On Angie’s List, our former landscaper has a large number of very positive comments and is rate “A” in every category except price, where they are rated “B”.  Our current landscaper does not fare as well.  While his grades in the price category are an even mix of “A” and “B”, his grades in the other areas are basically “B”.  The written comments suggest the frustration we feel is shared.  We don’t dislike our current guy enough to fire him mid-season, but we won’t be back.  We will, instead, return to our former but higher priced landscaper with a feeling that paying the higher cost is worth it.

There are obvious lessons for firms that care about quality service.