Three Service Models We Can Learn From

A modern lawn mower cutting through the grass.What can you learn in service delivery from three lawn maintenance companies? Plenty, and that’s today’s article.

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Three Service Models We Can Learn From

The three lawn companies I have hired since moving to Plano, TX can give us a great lesson in how differently accounting firms can deliver their services. Think about the parallels and which company most resembles your firm when it comes to delivering compliance and advisory services.

Only Mowing

The first company I hired was one of those companies that only provided mowing. An estimator came out to bid the job and I accepted. The crew of two or three spent all of 15 minutes per week on my yard. They must have had a rough schedule for the employees because they did things fast and moved on to the next job. The billing was on my credit card via an email receipt.

They did a pretty good job and the rate was fair. But what if I needed extra work done? I had other things I would have liked them to do, such as pulling up a plant here, trimming a bush there. I would have had to get another company to do it. That’s when I found someone new.

Mr. Gomez

After a while, I found a solo worker. He came out every Monday, did anything I wanted him to, was cheap, and kept showing up, 95% of the time. But I had to go outside and spend 10 minutes talking with him about half the time. Think about your hourly rate, and that 10 minute interruption adds up to lots of money and a giant lack of productivity. My. Gomez didn’t take credit cards, and on a few occasions there was a small language barrier.

I bought a second house which was a complete remodel including a dirt yard; we were downsizing and getting rid of the house with the pool which was a burden every time we traveled. Mr. Gomez did a great job laying Bermuda on about 80% of the front yard.

We were about to sell the first house and the yard did not look good. It had not been properly fertilized or treated for weeds and my sprinkler system had a break in it where part of the yard wasn’t being watered. All that extra time on my part was wasted when it mattered most.

I terminated Mr. Gomez and struggled to get the yard in good enough shape on my own.

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I managed to sell the first house, so now all I had to worry about was the remodel. It had a big front yard and a massive backyard.

When I called CitiTurf, they didn’t even come out – they had the Google maps layout of my house and gave me a quote over the phone. They took credit cards.

I signed up for mowing, and I can control the frequency – every week or every two weeks – with one email request. They also do eight treatments per year with fertilizer and weed control. That’s what I’ve been wanting from the start because I don’t have the education to know what to do and I don’t want to go through the learning curve.

I get seasonal email updates. The emails notify me when they discontinue mowing for winter, when they offer leaf clean-ups, and when my yard should be scalped. Some of them are extra charges, and I can simply reply via email and say “yes, I want that,” I am super-thrilled.

Which One Does Your Firm Sound Like?

So of course I thought of accounting firms. Is your firm more like the first provider, doing the same thing every week showing up for compliance work while communicating too little and losing a huge amount of upsell business?

Or the custom worker, doing what the client wants but not necessarily what they need? High-maintenance, fully manual operation, no technology involved, no procedures, and time-consuming onboarding the client?

Or are you the fully automated provider who educates the client, provides what they need, not what they want, and is easy to work with by email and automated credit card payments? I pay twice as much or more than I did, but my lawn is as green and healthy as it can be and I never lift a finger. I am willing to pay double for this efficiency.

It’s a curious comparison. I don’t know of a single accounting firm that is sending seasonal updates as no-nonsense as my lawn maintenance company. Things like “this is the perfect time of year to switch payroll providers” or “want a 1099 cleanup in December so filing will be faster?” Gusto, the payroll company comes close to this, gently reminding us to review our W-2s before a deadline.

There are lots of lessons between the lines in this article for all accounting firms.

Now if I could just find a tree trimming service. Alas, nothing in life is perfect.