In the middle of the worst drought to hit the U.S. in 56 years, Liquigreen Lawn and Tree Care of Galesburg, Ill., has found a way to not only survive, but also thrive and grow.
Charles Goodrich, son of owner Jim Goodrich and now the assistant manager of the company, said the secret to its success is paying attention to the needs of customers and adjusting the firm’s sales and service approach to meet their individual demands.
“Even this year, with things being so terrible, we’ve found a way to bring hope for lawn care,” said Charles Goodrich, who grew up in the business his father started in 1996 and now works for Liquigreen full-time. “People call in and try to cancel, and we try to turn that thought around by saying, ‘Maybe skip this application, put the money towards aeration and over-seeding and next year your lawn will get better.’ It’s been successful.”
Of course, it’s taken more than sweet-talking sales pitches to build Liquigreen’s solid base of 2,500 customers. Charles and Jim say the secret to the company’s success has been great customer service, personalized treatments, getting to know customers personally and maximizing referral-based marketing.
“We’ve grown every single year,” even through recession and drought, said Jim, who now has 10 full-time employees and serves eight separate counties in central Illinois.
Customer service. Liquigreen’s approach is to meet with unhappy customers personally, offering whatever it takes to restore their confidence and get them back in the fold.
“Since they’re disappointed with how things look, we’ll go out there and do free service calls,” he said. “Every time something like this happens, there’s always a big switch. The main thing we try to do is prevent them from switching. It’s about being nice.”
Personalized treatments. One of the biggest ways to retain customers during tough conditions is to personalize treatments to their lawns to achieve better results. “Maybe you shouldn’t put down urea if it’s too hot, because it could burn,’” Charles said. “Instead, we will use an organic product that’s almost like mulch for their lawn, to give their lawn the best competitive advantage in times of drought.”
Personal Relationships. Galesburg is the kind of rural, “small town USA” place where one might easily bump into one’s customers at the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon. Chrarles and Jim Goodrich like it that way, and they enjoy building personal relationships with their customers. For one thing, it makes it harder to quit.
“If by chance we were to lose someone, we don’t just let it go,” Charles said, who cites a high retention rate as one of the reasons behind Liquigreen’s overall success. “We invite them out for a cup of coffee to see why and to try to mend the relationship.”
Referral-based marketing. Although print advertising and other marketing are part of Liquigreen’s overall promotions strategy, cultivating referrals is the company’s biggest source of new customers. That’s particularly important in a rural area where the firm’s drivers might travel up to 300 miles in a day to service a broad range of customers.
“Once people contact us, we go out and meet with them, walk the lawn and talk about things they’re happy with,” Charles said. “We measure the lawn off and get to know them. That’s better than anything else we can do, better than any ad we can run.”