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With the end of year just six weeks away, it’s down to the wire for small business owners. Reports are being run, profits and losses counted, budgets finalized for a new calendar year.

But this season is also one of personal reflection, from family gatherings to New Year’s resolutions. As we close the books on 2014 and prepare to open a new budget, we look back and wonder. Have we reached our goals? What did we accomplish? What can we do better in the future?

Because we’re all part of U.S. Lawns, many of our aspirations are shared. So, as we reflect on the passing of 2014, we’d like to ask: are you living up to the power of the network? In other words, are you fulfilling the objectives and initiatives we laid out for 2014 (and beyond)? Are you meeting your goals?

If you’re not sure, here are some specific business questions to consider. We’ve also suggested some helpful ways to end the year, so you can start 2015 on track.

  • 100% Client Retention. How many of my customers have signed new contracts for 2015? Of course, your landscaping contracts may not be expired, but if a customer has added snow services, that’s a point in the “retained” column. Even if you don’t have any new contracts on the table, you should still end 2014 knowing which customers plan to return. To make the best projection, send out an “end of the year” Customer Survey. Most people expect this around the holidays, so you’ll probably get a good response. And you’ll definitely get a clearer picture of next year.
  • 100% Client Satisfaction. A precursor to Client Retention, this goal involves improving your service and making all your customers happy. Once again, surveys are the best way to measure how you’re doing. But if you have any issues you already know about, take care of them right away. Don’t start next year with a bad relationship hanging over your head. Instead, call on that customer for an end-of-year “touch base” session. Offer to give them a survey, in case they don’t feel comfortable speaking to you directly. As soon as you uncover a problem, you can fix it, starting 2015 on a good foot.
  • Radical Personalization. Maybe you’re thinking of getting your clients a holiday gift. Is it something generic, like a tin of popcorn? Or does it speak to their industry, or the U.S. Lawns relationship? That’s just one example of how your business needs to operate. Do you know all your customers? Do you understand their needs? Do you have open lines of communication? If not, there’s no better season to make personal connections. Maybe you’ll even want to host a customer appreciation event. Use this time to ramp up communication with your customers. Try to build more personal relationships throughout the season.
  • 100% Employee Retention. Is your business the best place to work? Now’s a good time to find out. Employees often complain that their companies “act” personal during the holidays but don’t follow through. Now is the time to start a habit that will last well into the future. Evaluate your employee relations and make a pledge to become an outstanding employer. (Not sure if your staff is happy? Take a look at their service scores in the Customer Satisfaction surveys. Happy employees provide great service, which leads to happy customers.)

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