How to reduce your job cancellation rate

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With over 912,000 landscaping professionals working all across America, sometimes it’s important to take a step back and understand larger trends occurring in the field.

Workiz field service management software recently released a study on the connection between job prices and cancellation rates for landscaping professionals working within the United States. The results were surprising.

Aside from sharing their research and insights, Workiz also included practical suggestions on how to improve your business’s cancellation rate, which you can start implementing immediately.

For this research study, Workiz analyzed 700,000 landscaping jobs performed by 2,500 Workiz user profiles over the past six months. Now, here’s what they found.

Which state lets you charge the most?

A pattern seemed to emerge when looking across states, showing a correlation between average job price and cancellation rate. As for what jobs were included, this could be anything from lawn fertilization, lawn-seeding, tree removal, building greenhouses, installing ponds, installing firepits to concrete removal, mowing lawns and more.

A cancellation in this case would be firing the company before any project/work is performed, whether for a one-time project (such as installing a pond) or for any recurring services, such as lawn mowing.

For example, in New York, the average price per job is $613, with an average cancellation rate of 10 percent, while in Nevada, the average job price is $283 with an average cancellation rate of 26 percent, and in Ohio, the average job price is $221 with an average cancellation rate of 38 percent.

Looking at average job price and cancellation rates by state. Graphic: WorkizLooking at average job price and cancellation rates by state.
Graphic: Workiz

Check your competition – Not all companies charge alike

The patterns seem pretty set in stone when comparing info between states and even cities.

Looking at average job price and cancellation rates by city. Graphic: WorkizLooking at average job price and cancellation rates by city.
Graphic: Workiz

Yet even within the same city, prices and cancellation rates vary greatly between companies. Take San Diego, California, for example. Within San Diego, landscaping professionals charge an average of anywhere between $217-$747 for a job. The lower the cancellation rate, the higher the average job price and vice versa.

A company charging an average price of $747 per job has a 4 percent cancellation rate, a company charging an average price of $341 per job has a 16 percent cancellation rate and a company charging an average price of $217 per job has a 32 percent cancellation rate.

Looking at the average job prices and cancellation rates for competing landscaping companies within San Diego, California. Graphic: WorkizLooking at the average job prices and cancellation rates for competing landscaping companies within San Diego, California.
Graphic: Workiz

Are cancellation rates really set in stone?

The fact that we see the same behavior at every level (state, city, company, etc.) shows that there’s a firm correlation between average job price and cancellation rate.

Moreover, the variation in cancellation rates between competing companies (within the same city) tells us that these rates aren’t set in stone – and can actually be improved. Therefore, landscaping professionals can successfully take steps to reduce their cancellation rates and positively impact their businesses.

By reducing your cancellation rate, you’ll be able to successfully charge more per job and increase your revenue. You’ll also be able to reduce your overall business overhead.

So – what is your cancellation rate?

You can only improve what you can measure. Do you know what your cancellation rate actually is? The first step is measuring and quantifying it. Now, why are customers cancelling? Are there any patterns that you can see?

Field service software is a great option. For around $50-$100 a month, you can easily measure your cancellation rate and see clear patterns in your business. For example, maybe you have customers cancelling because your crew consistently shows up late and customers are frustrated. If this is the case, automated notifications that you’re running late could make a huge impact in your business.

No misleading advertisement

If your advertising is confusing, misleading or subject to customer misinterpretation, you’re going to have a problem (read: cancellations). It’s important to back up all of your advertisements and make sure you stand by what you say. 

A well-trained dispatch is worth its weight in gold

If your landscaping business uses a dispatcher, it’s important to make sure that he/she is trained to clearly understand customer issues and understand the job that the customer actually needs. Sending the crew with the wrong skill set, or even the wrong tools, can result in a cancelled job. Sure, it happens, but it is avoidable.

Don’t let it go to voicemail

Sure, voicemails are super annoying. But an unheard voicemail is the equivalent to leaving money on the table.

There’s some great technology that can transcribe your voicemail into a text message, which you can then convert into a job in a click. So, once a customer leaves you a voicemail, you can make sure you’re on top of it.

Customers forget stuff. Send them reminders.

Hey, we all have a lot going on. Customers are forgetful, just like the rest of us. If a customer has a scheduled appointment, send them an automatic reminder before their appointment via text message. This will reduce the chance that they’ll somehow forget about their appointment, costing you time, money and aggravation.

Running late? Let them know.

Running late to a job? It happens. But your customer does need to know about it. Be sure to communicate all delays to your customers with a quick text message or call so your customer stays in the loop and doesn’t feel forgotten about (you can easily automate this with a field service software).

Skills, baby, skills

Sending the wrong technician or tool could wind up costing you the job. Make sure to get it right the first time by only sending the technician with the relevant skill set to the job. The same goes for tools. Make sure you understand what tools are needed before sending a tech out. Inventory management is a great way to understand all of your available tools and where they’re located, so you have the full picture and can make quick, informed decisions.

Appearances matter – so dress the part

We’d all like to think that customers judge us on things like skill. Well – that’s only partially true. When customers go on Yelp, they’ll often comment on how professional we looked and acted. Appearance matters, especially if you’re coming to a customer’s home, it’s important to look legitimate and demonstrate trust by wearing a uniform, name tag and coming in a marked car with your business logo. All of this goes to create customer confidence and reduces cancellations.

Show your customers you’re a pro

Appearing professional really is a big part of the game. When you come to a job armed with a tablet or cell phone with digital invoices that customers can actually review and sign, it certainly beats the good old days of paper invoices with spilled coffee stains. Things like this really do matter to your customers, and it’s important to match the quality of service that they’re expecting.

It’s not your customers – it’s your technician

Sometimes, too many cancelled jobs, especially from a certain technician, can be an indicator of employee issues. But how do you know if your technician is actually the one causing the problem? The beauty of field service software is that it allows you to record and listen to employee calls, analyze their performance (understand their amounts of cancelled jobs over the long term) and track their location with GPS. Information like this lets you move from a “trust” based business to one that’s based on facts and objective information.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Adi Azaria, the CEO of Workiz, a San Diego-based field service management software company that enables small businesses to easily manage every aspect of their operation and outperform larger competitors without the need for huge budgets or specialized expertise.

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