Who Is Your Ideal Customer?

Posted: March 19, 2013 in Between A Rock And A Hardscape

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If you’re single, you can go to any number of online dating sites to try and find your ideal mate. If you want to book a hotel or eat at a new restaurant you can get recommendations from a ton of people online who are willing to share their experience. But when it comes to finding the perfect people who want us to install the backyard of their dreams, you’re on your own.

Finding the ideal customer is difficult but it is important because they exist. We are not talking about some pie-in-the-sky customer who will purchase anything we sell or promote. Rather, it’s a customer you already have, a customer that you communicate with, a customer that values your workmanship, and values your business.

Since there is no eHarmony for business (at least not yet), let me give you a few questions you need to ask yourself in order to find that perfect match:

1. What is the average size of your projects?

Everyone wants to land the whale. The huge project that will keep you and your company working for weeks or even months. The lure of the big money contract is too tough for most to resist.

Just remember that it is not the size of the project that matters, it’s the total profit at the end of the job. Work your way up to larger dollar contracts and you have a better chance to retain your desired profit margin.

2. What types of projects do you work on?

You need to understand your strengths. If you work primarily with interlocking stone, don’t try to take on a huge retaining wall project. Working with unfamiliar concepts is a serious drain on your time and resources and potentially dangerous for your customers if you don’t do it right. The experience you gain may be overshadowed by the lack of profit and the hit to your reputation.

It’s true, you need to expand your knowledge and the type of work that your company will consider. But do it in a controlled environment.

3. Where are most of your projects?

Geography plays a bigger part in the success of a project than you might think. Taking on a job that is significantly farther away than where you usually work comes with added issues.

How much more time will it take your crew to get to the site every day? How much added gas will be consumed? Will you need to deal with unfamiliar dealers to get the products you need? What are the different bylaws and zoning regulations?

Be aware of the extra costs when you consider working in unfamiliar areas. There is a reason people say “There’s no place like home”.

4. What are the personality traits of your best customers?

This is one that many businesses fail to consider and not just landscapers. It requires some critical thinking to determine what type of clients you work best with.

Do most of your customers look to you to design their dream project or do your clients already know exactly what they want? Do you tend to land work from people who have already seen your work in person (referrals) or from those who found you at a trade show or online (marketing)?

Find out what your previous clients have in common especially the ones where you made the most margin. Once you do, it will be easier to recognize a better prospect when you are looking to add new business and increase your profitability.

Finding the ideal customer is hard work. But it’s not nearly as hard as trying to please everybody.

Happy Hardscaping!

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