What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
I prefer to meet with the client on the property being serviced or improved and walk around the property or area of concern. I will ask them as many questions as I can to get the best idea of their expectations, and then I will explain either multiple solutions or how we can help, as well as telling them I will return or contact them in 48-72hrs with an even more detailed illustration (for construction). For service quotes I can usually have a verbal quote after a look at the property the same day. I try to be as informative as possible without overwhelming them with the details of everything so they can easily see we know what we are doing and/or that a project may not be as simple as it seems. It is just as important to me as it would be to the client to justify cost as we are both investing our resources into their project, and we both want to be comfortable working with each other even in the worst situations knowing they can depend on us to always do the right thing.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
My family has owned and operated Mason Veterinary Clinic since 1988 and along with caring for animal patients, I would help with the lawn, landscape, and snow remival both at home and at our clinic. I also loved to help my father when he had large animal cases at several local farms, and often the farms would hire me to help with maintaining or improving their property. At 14 years old I worked at a Christmas tree farm where I learned landscape and snow removal starting as a general laborer. The senior owner suffered a back injury preventing him from even getting out of the truck some days, but we were able to continue working where he would instruct me on every aspect of the work while I completed the physical part of the projects. In addition, he would teach me how to maintain, repair, and operate all of his equipment while supervising and critiquing my work production, and answering all my questions. Every summer and winter break from then until his passing a few years later, I would work and learn a great deal about everything I could from him. After working for some other companies throughout college, I saw that I could incorporate the experience I'd gained in the landscape and snow removal industry and combine that with my family's small business approach providing exceptional care for each client. As different as veterinary care seems from the landscape and snow removal industry, I view each property and client as my family had taught me about caring for each animal and the people who lived their pets. I am very honored anytime we are chosen to care for or improve a property where the people who value it the most allow us to provide the care it needs. Our clients enjoy how comfortable we can make their property as well as how comfortable they are securing our services or enabling us to improve that which they already greatly value.
What types of customers have you worked with?
The "type" of customers we most commonly work for are hardworking people who value the image their property reflects on their customers, their guests, their family, other families, or just as a positive impact on their local community. We work with many types of residential and select commercial clients who value projecting a clean and well kept appearance as respecting their neighbors and community. Our customers ensure their property not only looks good but provides security where they control how accessible every area is according to their comfort while inside or outside. Our business customers often have specific themes or traffic templates designed for efficiency or customer comfort or both while maintaining low maintenance and durability. Our residential clients are almost always ongoing lawn maintenance clients delegating many other outdoor responsibilities to us but still following their specific property plan they can enjoy. With all maintenance clients we aim to keep everything as easy and low key as possible where clients can enjoy the confidence that no problems will "pop up" for them and we capably handle anything long before it could present as a problem. We are retained to make everything easier and/or more enjoyable preventing worry and frustration for our client. The most valued services for all customers is Ongoing Lawn Maintenance (mowing, trimming, edging, clipping cleanup), Spring/Fall Cleanups (including pruning, mulching, fertilization, rolling/aerating turf, and debris removal), and material installations (Patio's/retaining walls/walkways, tree's/shrubs/plants, irrigation systems, NDS drainage solutions, or any product or structure outdoors).
Ongoing lawn maintenance includes weekly/as needed services mowing all turf area's, and trimming any area inaccessible to the mowers providing a consistent and freshly manicured appearance. We also edge all the borders between the turf area's and any hard surfaces, and meticulously clean the entire service area every service. As a lawn maintenance client you will receive a 10 point detailed description/standard operating practices and procedures provided by MLL every service.
Spring/Fall cleanups always have a tremendous effect on the look and feel of the property after service. After a long winter or the end of the season in the fall, we offer outdoor cleaning ranging from basic leaf removal through total property improvement involving; all unwanted debris removal, weeding, pruning, tree trimming, mulching, edge re-animation, POWER-WASHING, lawn care (rolling/aeration/de-thatching), eaves trough/down-spout cleanings, outdoor furniture detailing, pet waste removal, turf repair (seeding), and even charcoal disposal and grill cleaning. We can handle any size property and offer just a few services through many detailed tasks. Spring/Fall cleanups always have a tremendously positive effect on the property owners and the neighbors, especially the more services we are enabled to provide.
Our installations always add value to our clients property and every MLL technician is trained to use the proper practices and procedures for installation. Our hardscapes including patio's, walkways, and retaining walls are guaranteed for life. We can build anything you can dream of using a variety of materials including block, natural stone, treated lumber, or any outdoor construction product available today. All of our plants/shrubs/tree's are properly installed according to the correct sun/shade and zone specifications. Any organic installation includes a one year limited warranty on viability, as long as you water and regularly maintain your plant, we will replace it at no additional cost to you for up to one year after installation if it fails to progress. Please visit our website for pictures of our local work and get some idea's for your personal landscape. Please feel free to contact us at any time with any questions you may have about our services, products, or installations.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
The lawn, landscape, and snow removal business is one of the most competitive and often a homeowner or persons first experience with private contractors or small/local business starts with this industry. As cliche as it sounds, still the best way to choose the best people for your project is to check their previous work, identify how much experience they have, and speak or meet with them directly. Preferably we like to meet with anyone requesting an estimate at the work site, and we either question and/or carefully listen to their expectations for the project before presenting them with any offer. After identifying exactly what the client is expecting we may ask additional questions about project specific choices and then offer detailed descriptions about the services or installations that best fit their situation. Depending on the scope of the service or project we then send them an email with an itemized quote within 1-48hrs and offer to answer any questions or reconfigure the quote per their changes. For some services (like ongoing lawn Maint.) often we can deliver a quote after visiting the property without having to meet up in person with the client, whereas "new build total landscape installations" we often include "green prints" or rough blueprints with all of the features illustrated for the client along with a per unit installation quote. We try to be as informative and inclusive in all quotes letting people know exactly how much we can do for them, breaking down those costs to the simplest denomination (i.e. "$ per square foot; $ per unit/tree/shrub/ect). We believe that every prospective client deserves our personal attention before we deliver any quotes and we have the years of experience, all the professional prerequisites, and current references available that are also current clients. We would rather gain a client for life than have to recoup several new clients every year because of turnover.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
I would ask that new customers share any questions or concerns they may have right away, and any professional should answer AND ASK many questions to get the best idea for exactly what the customer is expecting and give a detailed response in how we could best help out. We will always encourage customers to ask any questions they have, and we feel the most important thing is for us to ask the right questions and carefully listen ti gain the best understanding of why they want you there. In addition, customers should always ask about experience, references, and we even try to show them examples of our work either in person or pictures. A competent professional should have all current licenses and insurance, and now a days some kind of website where the client can get answers to any general questions they may have, see pictures of work, read testimonials, anything that is more that someone just claiming they're capable or experienced, but a more detailed record or their work. Services like the one you find us on are great, the only thing I find frustrating is competition falsely claiming they were a customer giving you a bad review us more common than I thought was possible, but they are fairly easy to spot especially if it's a manifesto type biography. It's why we always prefer to meet with people face to fave and answer any questions they may have then. Lastly although my chosen profession doesn't necessarily require a degree or even licensing, that me and everyone who works for MLL are college educated and have extensive knowledge about Michigan lawn and landscape services and installations. This AND we are licensed and certified AND have extensive practical knowledge. I wish that new clients didnt have to be so skeptical about our abilities, but I totally understand why they are after seeing some of the horrible business practices of some of these business's. The reverse is true as well, we value our competition and some business's are really really great to compete with and they make us even better.