Your goal with every job is to leave your client’s landscaping looking healthier and more beautiful than when you arrived. Even though causing damage to property isn’t part of the plan, knowing how to deal with that potential risk can be valuable if the situation arises. How you handle the damaged property can make the difference between keeping the landscaping client and causing long-term damage to your company’s reputation.
The best option is to proactively prevent damage to your clients’ property. When you start your landscaping business, establish a quality control protocol to ensure all your employees follow certain standards. Create a training program that addresses potential risks and damage in landscaping. Some examples include killing grass and plants, causing tripping hazards, breaking windows with rocks tossed by equipment, damaging hardscape features, and pruning more than the client wants. You want to establish standard procedures for all landscaping services you offer to minimize the risk of those issues, and repeat the training yearly to keep damage prevention and quality control as a priority.
Your landscaping crew may not realize it caused damage immediately. Crew members might apply too many chemicals, but the damage may not show until later. The clients may decide after seeing the work that the pruning is too much or the landscaping isn’t planted how they want it. Other times you know about the damage as soon as it happens, such as a broken window or a garden fountain. If you know about the damage first, acknowledge the mistake with the client immediately. You never want the client to stumble upon the damage after the fact as it looks like you’re trying to hide the mistake.
Approach the client with an immediate apology, and accept responsibility for the situation instead of passing on the blame to someone else. Even if a crew member caused the damage, you never want to point the finger or criticize the employee, especially in front of the client. You can address quality issues and retraining later. It’s natural for the client to feel upset, but hearing an apology from you can help ease the anger.
Correct the Situation
Don’t wait for the client to demand you fix the situation. Instead, offer obvious fixes. If you break a window, work to get someone out as soon as possible and pay for the replacement glass. In some situations, it’s better to ask the client for suggestions on how to fix the problem. If you overprune a bush, the homeowners may want a replacement plant, or they may be satisfied with a free future service. Listening to what the client wants, you start repairing the relationship. When the client sees how you handle the situation, you may earn some free word-of-mouth marketing to help get more landscaping clients.
If you handle the situation professionally, you increase the chance of retaining the homeowner as a landscaping client, but that doesn’t mean you can slack off. Send your best crew to handle future landscaping work. You might throw in extras as a continued apology to the client. If the client has you come to prune the shrubs, throw in a free fertilizer treatment. If you routinely mow the lawn, don’t bill the client for the next few trips. Consider using the situation as a training scenario to ensure the same problem doesn’t happen again.
Training and high expectations for your landscaping crew minimizes the risk of damage to client property, but you can’t always prevent mistakes. Remedy the situation immediately and professionally without placing blame to save your company’s reputation.