Concierge-Class Customer Service Builds a Successful Business Quickly
Chris Senger, owner of Mow Town Edmonton, bought a used mower in 2016, and quickly turned it into a thriving business with two full time crews by offering superior customer service.Visit Website ››
3 Years Old
Being a private jet jockey for the wealthiest so-called one percenters taught Chris Senger about how people want to be treated, whether you are arranging for their private jet or mowing their lawn.
The founder of Mow Town Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, says next level customer service and a willingness to always find solutions even when it doesn’t mean a buck in your pocket will help build relationships—fast.
“Jet management requires a high level of customer service. You don’t really see it as much in lawn care and snow removal,” says Senger. While the super rich expect ‘bespoke’ type service, he says that’s not something you would expect from lawn care and snow removal company.
But that’s what Mow Town aims to provide.
“We’re careful how we treat people when we work for them. For the most part, a mowed lawn is a mowed lawn,” he says. “But what we have control over is being on time, on budget, and wowing them with a really professional look and feel.”
A used mower and a smile
Senger’s team has come far fast. He started the company in May 2016 with a used mower bought off Kijijji for $80 and a $5 Google ad. “Next thing you know I had a company,” he recalls.
Now, amazingly, after just one season, Mow Town has two full time truck crews and 5 part-timers. He credits superior relationship building for his rapid success.
“Always smile, even when you are talking to someone on the phone. A smile gets things started off on the right foot. People can actually hear a smile,” he says. “As goofy as it sounds, it works.”
Chris Senger, Mow Town Edmonton
Always smile, even when you are talking to someone on the phone. A smile gets things started off on the right foot. People can actually hear a smile. As goofy as it sounds, it works.
Relationship-building is about helping people out
Senger says that starting out meant not saying no to anything that came up, even if it wasn’t really within the mission statement of the fledgling company.
“We’ve done everything from painting, to eaves trough cleaning, to hauling garbage. When you are starting out, you take a lot of jobs that aren’t really in your wheelhouse, because you need the money,” he says.
He once took a job aerating a lawn even though it meant having to rent a machine.
“We would make it happen or we would just find someone to help them out. If I can’t do it I’d refer someone. I’d do the research and find the three best people to recommend, then contact that person and let them know I’m sending a customer their way,” says Senger.
In this way, Mow Town became trusted for its referrals, which built not only a good customer relationship, but also solid strategic partnerships with other companies.
“It takes 10 minutes to help someone out,” he says, adding people now think he’s ‘connected’ and knows somebody for anything. But Senger is also careful not to over promise.
“Be 100 per cent honest and sincere. ‘What are you looking to have done what can we help you with. What kind of budget did you have have in mind?’” he says. “Can you help them out? Most of the time the answer is yes. Lawn care isn’t super expensive, really, and you can tailor a plan to meet their needs.”
Champagne tastes on a beer budget
Senger says the just like as in air travel there is a range in lawn care from high flyers to economy class.
“There are people who want their lawn mowed weekly and want a well-manicured lawn—they want the works. And then there are people who are just looking for someone who will help them not get a ticket from the city every summer,” he says.
Senger says he wants Mow Town’s high level of customer service to be a challenge to his competitors to do better. He says the majority of snow and lawn care operations are one-truck, one-man outfits.
“They won’t go the extra mile. That’s where we fit in. It’s dedication to service, good customer service, having a website with your price, features and services displayed clearly,” he says.
Chris Senger, Mow Town Edmonton
We are primarily focussing on lawn care and snow removal, but doing fewer and fewer individual homeowners and more condominiums and businesses. You don’t have to market as much to those folks. You just have to do a really good job and answer your phone when it rings.
Mowing on up!
Senger and his team are ready to move on to the next level.
“We are primarily focussing on lawn care and snow removal, but doing fewer and fewer individual homeowners and more condominiums and businesses,” he says. “You don’t have to market as much to those folks. You just have to do a really good job and answer your phone when it rings.”
On top of a lower marketing expense, targeting bigger jobs means a more efficient use of time. He says his teams are now doing four to 10 properties a day and—although they are bigger—it’s easier than doing 30 residences.
The next big fish? Expanding to larger snow removal contracts “We really won the condos over the past year. At least 200 places,” he says.
Whether flying private jets or clearing snow, customers always remember how you made them feel and that’s the foundation for any good business relationship.
Lightning round with Mow Town Edmonton!
What’s your top marketing channel?
It’s a solid tie between referrals and Google AdWords. Condominiums are typically handled by property management companies, and they are the gatekeepers to the large volume jobs in the city. Going the extra mile on our first few condo jobs qualified us to receive their full list of properties for quoting.
On the other hand, Google AdWords has also delivered great results for us too. When we started out, certain neighbourhoods did better than others for us and we ended up with geographic clumps of clients. Now we can target our advertising right down to the postal code of those neighbourhoods and keep all of our clients in a tight radius. This saves on advertising expenses, gas and travel times. Now that those grouped clients constantly see our trucks driving by, they think we have a giant fleet. The extra brand recognition has been a happy side effect of trying to save on expenses.
The most valuable tool in your toolbox?
In a climate that generally requires two completely different sets of equipment depending on the time of year, any tool that is practical year round is a big asset. The other way to measure the value of the tool is how fantastic is it at doing it’s job, versus other tools/brands.
For us the golden goose is the Stihl BR700 backpack blower. In winter, it has the power to blast away 3-5 cm of snow off of concrete, which means we can finish an average home in 3 minutes, versus 6 minutes of shovelling. In spring we can clear out the winter gravel quickly and in summer the grass that trails onto sidewalks. In fall, the leaves don’t stand a chance.
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What’s your favorite Jobber feature?
Building new jobs. Switching between mowing and snow can be hectic when you’re swapping out equipment from storage and the phone is ringing constantly.
It’s way more manageable for us with Jobber because we have a new customer completely set up for the season before we are off the phone with them. We put in a few contact details and assign one of our pre-populated services, assign a day and visit frequency and in less than two minutes we are set up to run on autopilot for the year.
I have all the visits and invoice reminders in place, and the work overview and reporting reflects the new sale right away. Customers have also been impressed by this because the organization on our side translates to assurance for them that we are professionals.
What do you never leave home without before a day in the field?
Gloves, so many gloves. We contend with frostbite, salt, thistles, dust, dog bombs and the occasional errant hand tool. There’s nothing worse than being left to decide between a 20 minute hand-washing adventure at lunch time or seasoning your sandwich with something awful.
And, after your day in the field, what’s the best way to unwind?
This probably seems gross, but my staff and I all agree that one of the most satisfying feelings is taking a hot shower after a grueling day of mowing or spring cleanups and just watching how much dirt runs off in the shower. It’s our trophy of a job well done.
Looking for more advice on starting a lawn care business? How two military veterans built a booming lawn care business in one season.