Keeping up with the client

Customer expectations have grown in recent years. Fortunately, so has the snow industry’s ability to keep pace.

Photo courtesy of Brilar

Client expectations are higher than ever before. Clients are asking for – rather, I mean demanding – a higher-level service. Not only are expectations high, but there’s little patience or tolerance for error when it comes to service nowadays. To further underscore the importance of recognizing and taking the client’s growing expectations and shrinking tolerance to heart: clients have more choices than ever before when choosing a service provider. Fortunately, our capabilities have also been growing exponentially.

Given the tremendous capabilities now available, snow and ice management contractors and service providers have a unique opportunity to meet the challenge of growing client expectations. They can do this all while establishing a competitive advantage over the competition by fully leveraging today’s enhanced capabilities.

I believe all big challenges in business have the ability to actually become competitive advantages, for those business leaders determined to make it so. Widespread challenges in business, even that of growing client expectations, can be capitalized upon and made into a distinct advantage.

An overwhelming majority of the competition will treat a challenge as a challenge, holding open the proverbial front-door for the few who choose to, instead of struggle, capitalize. By exploiting a challenge as a competitive advantage, companies stand to gain market share, profits and positive brand awareness.

So, what is driving rising client expectations?

I believe it’s at least in part because they’ve learned exactly how capable we’ve become. We’ve sold them on what’s possible – what can be done – and now they want it. We’re out there selling how great we’ve become, how advanced and wonderful our operation is; so, they want to see it. And now, clients are more informed than ever before. They understand what level of service is possible from snow and ice management contractors.

Our equipment is state of the art, so we sell that. Our systems and processes are better than ever before, so we sell that. Our technology is beyond impressive, so we sell that. We have GPS systems with geofencing and timestamping. Our anti-icing and deicing abilities are incredibly refined, so we sell that. We have certification programs, continuous education, and training; we sell that. We have ways of mitigating environmental impact, so we sell that.

Fine-tuning your processes and operation strategy can help you meet the high service expectations clients demand.

Perhaps most importantly, we are capable of effectively and significantly reducing liability, so we sell that, too.

As an industry, we’ve increased our clients’ expectations. We’ve done a good job selling them on how incredibly improved and modernized our product and service has become. Now, and rightfully so, they expect us to deliver. Our clients are only holding us accountable to the super-high standards we’ve sold them. We’re more capable than ever before; our clients know that, and simply expect us to provide their service accordingly.

To keep up, or better yet exceed our clients’ expectations, we must take full advantage of all that’s out there. We need to give them all they’ve come to expect, and then some. We must use today and tomorrow’s tools, technologies, and techniques to not only compete, but to set ourselves apart from the competition.

Truth be told, most of your competition will fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to fully utilizing all that’s available. This is how you can turn the challenge of growing expectations into an advantage for your organization.

Business leaders aiming to be on the cutting edge (pun intended Snow Fighters) can do so by continuing to advocate for, and selling an improved and modern way of doing things. What’s next? You have to deliver. You must perform noticeably and consistently better than your competition.

Delivery is key. Results matter. Having GPS, for example, is just an unnecessary frivolous expense if not properly utilized to deliver better service. The latest and greatest anti-icing and deicing equipment does little to advance your competitive advantage, if not utilized to noticeably improve service. Having a well-trained, educated and certified staff means very little if the best practices learned aren’t consistently executed. Furthermore, take time to teach your prospects and clients the measurable value they receive from having well-trained, educated, and certified workers on their site(s). If the client doesn’t know or notice, it doesn’t matter.

If your snow program works to mitigate slip-and-fall liability, make sure your clients know and notice what you’re doing. If you’re working smart to address environmental concerns, make sure you customers recognize this so they can accurately evaluate your performance and value. Your clients must know what you’re doing – it’s your job to teach them. Then, your clients will notice what you did. It’s your job to deliver!

Unfortunately, many will struggle to keep up as client expectations continue to grow. The good news is, there is a golden opportunity within reach for those companies committed to being on the industry’s cutting edge.

By fully utilizing today and tomorrow’s tool chest, and by giving your clients a level of service they can’t easily replace, you’ll be able to set yourself and your company apart. If you meet your clients’ high expectations with an even higher level of service, you’ll effectively turn what’s become a challenge for most, into an advantage for you!

Mike Voories is the chief operating officer at Brilar, a commercial landscape & snow maintenance firm with locations across the Midwest.

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