First Impressions

First impressions are important with your potential customers.

May 14th, 2007 • Business Lessons •
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A week ago, we decided to sign up with a lawn care service. The service seemed reasonable and we wanted a nicer lawn so the timing was perfect. I was getting sick of mowing dirt.

Fifteen minutes after the company's representatives left, we received a phone call from the company asking if tomorrow was acceptable for the first scheduled application. We were also told that they need to have access to the yard if its locked up. We do have a gated backyard that's locked up 99% of the time.

We thought this was great. If this is the type of prompt service we'll receive throughout the year, then we made the right choice.

Well....not exactly.

The gate was left unlocked the night before the lawn care "engineers" were scheduled to arrive. This was on Tuesday. They were scheduled to arrive on Wednesday. They didn't arrive. Wednesday evening, we called the company and told them they were scheduled for Wednesday, but never arrived.

"Oh," said the person on the phone, "they'll show up on Thursday. Sorry for the inconvenience."

I know what you're thinking...and you're right. Thursday came and went. Again, I left the gate unlocked the entire evening and no lawn service. Thursday evening around 8:00p, I went out and locked the gate.

Friday evening around 6:00p, there was a knock at the door and I was on the phone. I couldn't get to the door quick enough. Around 7:00p, I went outside and noticed a stick in the ground and an invoice on the door. The lawn service "engineers" arrived and left...just like the wind.

After looking over the invoice, I noticed a hand-written note that they finished the front AND backyard. Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! Backyard? The gate was locked.

Now, there are a couple of scenarios for this situation:

  1. These lawn care "engineers" train daily to high-jump over 8ft fences if the need arises,
  2. They have some pretty long hoses to spray an entire backyard without even opening a locked gate, or
  3. They lied on the invoice saying that they did spray the backyard, but really didn't.

My bet is on the latter.

Unfortunately for this company, we're canceling our "contract" with them and asking them to stop service on our lawn immediately.

There were three mistakes made by this company:

  1. When the representative called us fifteen minutes later, it didn't give us enough time for the deal to sink in or for us to look over our "contract" to ask any questions. The ink was still wet.
  2. When you schedule an appointment with a customer, stick to the appointment. If there is something that turns up where you cannot meet that scheduled appointment, contact the customer, let them know the situation, and reschedule that appointment. In any event, the customer must be made aware that you aren't showing up...so he can lock his gate. :-)
  3. One of the ten commandments of small businesses is to never lie to the customer. Ever!
Business relationships are similar to dating relationships. Visit locations that match your style to find that ideal candidate, always present yourself in a fashionable manner, first impressions matter, and above all, make sure you call often.

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Picture of Jonathan Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "Programming."

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