Economic conditions have softened for landscape architecture firms, according to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects’ Business Quarterly survey. During the third quarter of 2016, firms reported a decrease in billable hours and inquiries for new work, with plans to hire also softening from the previous quarter.

Are you seeing client inquiries drop? Maybe it’s time to elevate the experience for your client.

What do I mean by “elevating the experience,” you ask? Well Mark Sanborn of Sanborn and Associates Inc. shared his expertise on customer service at the recent GIE+EXPO CEO Forum put on by the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

He used the example of a postal worker named Fred. (The detailed story is in his book, “The Fred Factor.”) Sanborn travels a lot for his job that involves public speaking and educating professionals on customer service. His postal worker, Fred, offered to take his calendar and align mail delivery with the days he was in town. When Sanborn said he could just leave the mail in the box while he was gone, Fred was concerned someone might steal his mail and offered again to follow his travel schedule to ensure timely and safe mail delivery. Basically, “Fred was more concerned about my mail than I was,” Sanborn says.

Are you more concerned about your clients’ landscapes than they are? If you are, the client can feel it and see it in your actions and responses to their concerns.

“This creates that ultimate loyalty for your business where the customer doesn’t even consider hiring a different company because they know you have the job done and it’s done well,” Sanborn says. “You must elevate the experience with your customers. When the customer receives value, they are pleasantly surprised, they are happier and they tell others.”

This alone could increase your customer inquiries and billable hours for 2017. Try it and let us know how it goes.