When Plants go Wrong

As Interior Landscapers, dealing with live plants can be tricky business. Any business owner can experience a myriad of difficulties when working with clients, but those dealing with living plants can have added problems. Plants may not grow to look exactly how the client expected, plants may get disease, pests or sometimes just die. It is undeniable that sometime during your career working with plants something will go wrong. The important question to ask is, “When things go wrong how will I make sure my client is satisfied?”

Things go wrong for all kinds of reasons. As a business owner some will be your fault, some will be your employee’s fault and some problems will have no fault. It just happens. The important thing to remember is that a client doesn’t care who’s fault it is. They just want the situation remedied. You can always apologize without assuming blame and you can always take action to make the customer happy.  You can also take steps to make sure the problem doesn’t happen again.

Prevention

The first step to solving a problem is prevent it from happening. Make sure your staff is well trained. Give them confidence to deal with any foreseeable problems and the tools they need to problem solve on the job. Have back up suppliers. In the event that your supplier does not have the plants you need, or the plants they send are not quality, make sure you have an alternate plan. Know how long it takes to get what you need and how long you have to execute a plantscape. Generously pad any promises to the client. It is better to deliver ahead of schedule than to be late.

Communication

Even when you anticipate problems they can still arise. Make sure you have discussed with your clients what your policies are on replacing plants. Make sure they understand clearly what your responsibilities are and what their responsibilities are as far as care, maintenance and notification when something is wrong.  The less confusion there is about how to handle certain situations the happier your clients will be.

Make It Right!

When all else fails, apologize! Don’t hesitate to offer to take action to remedy the situation even if it is at your expense or even if it is not your fault. Offer future discounts or replacement plants or refunds. Do whatever it takes. It may hurt the bottom line now, but a happy client will come back to you for business. A long-term client is worth whatever it takes to make them satisfied with your service. Not only will a satisfied customer result in a long term client, but also word of mouth recommendations. With the use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter,  reputations can be severely damaged very quickly. Pleased clients can also share their praise with a broad audience.

Your Experience

Having a plan in place for how you will respond when a problem arises will allow you to act quickly. The faster you present your client with a solution the more pleased they will be with your service. A little time preparing now could save you from some major headaches in the future. And no matter what always apologize! What kind of problems have you faced as an interior landscaper? What solutions do you offer your customers?

Photo “Potted Plant” courtesy of Wayne Wilkinson

Melanie is a plant enthusiast and expert contributor at Bromeliads.info and OrchidPlantCare.info. Melanie's experience in internet marketing, business management, and horticulture allows her to bring a unique perspective to the community. Melanie received a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Leadership from Purdue University and is the Marketing Director at NewPro Containers.

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