/* */
Upload Photos Refer a PRO

Business Owners & Managers

Better service through technology: How digital tools can forge stronger customer bonds

When it comes to communicating with clients and setting, meeting, and exceeding their expectations, all the tools you need are at your fingertips, says Brian Boase owner of Mil-Spec Lawn Care.

"We don't have someone in an office. The truck is the office," says Boase, who runs the business with his wife Kristy. "Because it's just Kristy and I and we have more than 60 clients a week and we do all the cutting, landscaping, aeration, seeding, and weekly lawn maintenance, we rely heavily on mobile apps."

Along with field service management software (Mil-Spec uses Jobber), Boase says Mil-Spec uses an app-based Internet phone service called Second Line as his business line."We text message and email on our phones. And we have an iPad in the truck. That's it," he says.

"Our entire business is based on this technology. There's a lot of old school lawn and landscape guys who still use paper invoices and do a lot of things by phone. And I get it. You know there's a personal touch to that. But these days everyone is tech driven. So I would say 95% of what we do is text messages, emails, and tech."

Say What You Mean - Mean What You Say

Boase says the ability to instantaneously communicate with clients ensures that no one is ever disappointed.

"One of the key tenets in our business is customer expectation management. And communication is what it's all about," he says. "They expect a certain service at a certain time. So if they come home and their lawn hasn't been cut, and you haven't contacted them to explain why, you've failed your client."

Because landscaping and lawncare are weather dependent, Boase says anything can happen and clients get that. They just want to know what's going on.

"A lot of our clients enjoy getting text messages from Kristy. She's usually in the passenger seat texting away while I drive. It's more personal than email. Even our older clients. They have smartphones and they text," he says, adding that it eliminates the need for a phone call.

"Being able to text is more convenient than having a lengthy phone call. Especially if you're a busy mom or something and you can't have a long conversation.

You can just return the text when you have a chance," he says.

It's Good to Keep Track of the Details

Boase says using tech to instantly communicate is not just efficient, but it provides a searchable record that can help down the road.

"So, we've never had an issue with ‘Well you said you were going to do this and you didn't do that.' We've never had that issue. Because all our communication—be it text message or email—leaves a digital trail," says Boase. "That protects both us and our clients."

Boase says when you are dealing with dozen of clients a day, trying to commit things to memory, such as what kind of plants they want, or when they want their lawn cut, is impossible."Using a dedicated scheduling app provides a historical record that you can refer back to and know exactly what they want," he says.

When Mil-Spec goes out to give someone a quote on landscaping it might require getting pricing for different trees, shrubs and flowers. "It's good to be able to look at the quote and see the details of what they want exactly, so when you show up you're not asking the same questions over and over," he says.

Tech is Continually Improving: Stay Up To Date

Boase says staying up to date with new tech developments can realize even more efficiencies. For example: the Mil-Spec website used to have a dedicated page for work requests. Prospective customers could fill out the webform, which Boase would get as an email. That email would then have to be manually entered into Jobber.

Now, instead of a separate webpage, Boase has a work request button on the Mil-Spec home page, so customers who click on it go directly to their Jobber work request site. "So they fill out the form and we get a job notification. That's eliminated a step. We don't have to input the info into Jobber, they do," says Boase.

He says it's the same with Jobber's client hub—customers can see their own invoices, request work from them, and see what they have paid and haven't.

"It's especially useful for our commercial clients who have multiple properties," Boase says, adding customers love being able to manage their own accounts. “They can control their services on each of those properties and manage the payments on all their invoices."

Ok Computer: Tell Me What's Next

Google Home, Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa—smart voice-enabled computers are quickly popping up in more and more homes. Boase says for Mil-Spec technology can be a business multiplier and he sees the growth of personal assistants being a big factor.

"When it comes to the impact of tech on this industry, the sky's the limit."

Barret Hall
Marketing Manager

How are you using technology to aid your business? Join our forum to share your tips or ask other pros for ideas.