Do landscapers need to do anything differently when they work with commercial clients? It's a great question, and one that often puzzles landscape business owners who are looking to expand their client base.
Yes, you will need to do a few things differently to make your lawn care business more marketable to commercial clients and meet their contractual requirements. Let's take a look.
8 Strategies to Work with Commercial Landscaping Clients
You're probably communicating clearly and providing excellent customer service already with your residential clients. As you look to expand your business, it may be time to up your game.
Without further ado, let's look at eight strategies you many want to employ when working with commercial clients:
- Communicate. Communication is important for any business, but when you start providing lawn services for larger properties that want to have a long-term contract with you, you'll need to be crystal clear about their landscaping needs. This can be challenging. You might be working outside one day when you client walks up and tells you to trim the hedges a certain way. Many of your communications with clients are like that — short conversations about what they want. Remember to document these conversations. Write down your client's instructions or send "follow-up" emails that confirm what your client wanted.
- Train your workers. When your business grows and takes on new clients, you want to make sure your employees are up to the task. When you start working with commercial clients, there will be growing pains. You may make some mistakes, so ensure that you and your employees are communicating about any problems that may arise.
- Use insurance certificates. This is one of the major differences you'll see: commercial clients often require you to have small business insurance. Your client's contract may specifically require General Liability Insurance. Upon signing, you'll have to present "proof of insurance" (i.e., a Certificate of Liability Insurance) that shows you've got coverage for your business. See our sample Certificates of Liability Insurance to learn more.
- Invest in new equipment. Almost nothing is worse than having the wrong tools for the job. If you're beginning to work with commercial clients who have larger properties, you may need to upgrade your equipment. Renting tools from hardware stores can be a short-term fix that allows you to try something out before you commit to purchasing. However, you'll probably have to invest in new equipment. Make sure you start saving now so that you can be ready for this investment when the time comes.
- Network. Get to know contractors, handymen, building maintenance companies, and other small businesses with connections to commercial properties. These connections can help you find new work and may refer you to their clients. While word-of-mouth referrals go a long way for residential properties, you'll have to "network" more actively if you're looking to get commercial contracts. See "Commercial vs. Residential Landscaping" for more small business tips.
- Establish a billing system. If you don't have a payment system set in place, now is a good time to do so. Whether that means merely formalizing your processing and banking procedures or signing up for an online payment service, a billing service will make things easier for you and your commercial clients.
- Understand ADA requirements. Your clients' buildings may need to meet accessibility standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you're putting in a new walkway or maintaining sidewalks, make sure you know and follow these guidelines.
- Make sure your client's property is ready for business. Because your clients' grounds are where they conduct business, you'll have extra considerations. For instance, you'll want to make sure your work doesn't prevent your clients from receiving deliveries.
While your commercial clients' needs aren't radically different, you may need to change the way you're accustomed to doing business. As we saw above, you may need to meet your commercial client's insurance requirements. If you're looking for a rough estimate on the cost of your insurance, you can browse these sample insurance quotes for landscape companies