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100% Customer Satisfaction and the Crew Leader

Last week we talked about Customer Satisfaction and why service is one of the most important business tools you possess. Now, we’re going to focus on another important (and closely related) advantage: the people who work a job site and make customer service happen.

It’s become something of a cliché in the business world that “people are the most important assets.” But it’s also profoundly true, especially in a service industry. If 100% customer satisfaction is your primary goal, you can’t get there without hiring and training the best staff.

Focusing on your employees is the first step in serving your customers. That’s why companies like Walmart, Starbucks and Google make such a big deal about being great places to work. It’s why the U.S. Lawns Home Office does the same. Employees can’t and won’t provide extraordinary service unless they’re happy with their jobs.

So, what does this mean for you? As a franchise owner, it’s different than a Fortune 500 company like Starbucks, or even our Home Office. The size of your staff will vary, depending on how long you’ve been in business. If your franchise is established, you’re probably responsible for an Operations Manager, an Office Manager, and perhaps even GMs for multiple territories. Newer franchisees are still focused on building their crews. All of these positions are important, but there’s one employee every franchisee has—one who serves as the ideal model for employee satisfaction and customer service. That person is your Crew Leader.

The Crew Leader position may not be the highest on the org chart, but we guarantee it’s the most important from a customer service perspective. So, if you want to achieve 100% customer satisfaction this year, start by taking a look at your Crew Leader.

We should all be familiar with the job duties of a Crew Leader. We have listings along with job descriptions posted on our local web pages, as we’re constantly looking to expand our crews. At a basic, operational level, the Crew Leader is responsible for managing the activities week-to-week on each job site and delivering quality work on time. This involves delegating tasks to the most capable members of the crew, supervising their activities and following up to ensure completion of these tasks. It also involves keeping schedules and punch lists of duties to be performed. The Crew Leader may also conduct safety tailgate meetings.

At this level, the Crew Leader’s role is focused on the grounds care staff. He is their manager, their coach and their mentor. When a new gardener comes on board, it’s the Crew Leader’s job to train him. It’s the Crew Leader’s job to enforce the rules for safety and performance. The Crew Leader reports back to the owner or manager on the performance of the team. Consequently, he is responsible for motivating the team and setting a positive example.

You can see how the Crew Leader plays a pivotal role in getting a job done. Customer satisfaction depends on the Crew Leader’s ability to lead. If someone on the crew isn’t properly trained, that’s the Crew Leader’s fault. If deadlines or important tasks get missed, the Crew Leader is responsible. In microcosm, the Crew Leader is your business; his hand is on the lever of customer satisfaction at all times. The Crew Leader must constantly manage the human capital of the crew. If a gardener has complaints about a job, the Crew Leader gets an earful. He works constantly to motivate his team, and keep them happy—so they, in turn, can serve your customers.

But there’s another dimension to the Crew Leader’s job: he also interacts directly with your clients. In this role, the Crew Leader does not so much represent the crew as the U.S. Lawns franchise itself. When discussing the progress of jobs with your customer, Crew Leaders must provide exemplary service at all times. They must be positive, responsive, and flexible to all clients’ needs. And they must follow up with the client to ensure that jobs have been satisfactorily completed.

As you can see, the Crew Leader’s function is to represent all aspects of the organization. If anyone is unhappy—you, the crew or the client—the Crew Leader is the one who must hear about it. His client is both internal and public, and his primary job is service. In fact, you might say a Crew Leader’s job description could be boiled down to three words: 100% Customer Satisfaction.

So, what’s important to learn from this? A few things:

• The Crew Leader is your “anchor” position if customer satisfaction is your goal. Make sure you’ve got the right people in that role.
• Train your Crew Leaders to be all-star players on your team. Encourage them, coach them and support them.
• Make sure everyone understands that Crew Leader is not a landscaping position; it’s a customer service job. That sets expectations right away for your team, including the Crew Leaders themselves.
• Rely on the Crew Leaders to take the lead on customer service, and take ownership of that aspect of grounds care. Crew morale will rise, and your service ratings will, too.
• Every single person in your organization is crucial to achieving 100% Client Satisfaction. You may never have thought about the Crew Leader before. Now think about the other roles in your organization. How is each person uniquely positioned to help your team generate revenue and stand out from the competition by providing unparalleled customer service?

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