Every landscaping company will receive reviews and feedback from customers, and Blackjack Horticulture is no exception, but once they receive this feedback, what do they do with it?
For members of the Blackjack staff, this valuable customer input helps them determine what they’ve gotten right and what needs to be fixed, which helps them in determining their overall goals for the company’s future.
Take a look at how the leaders of Blackjack handle feedback, how they use this information to create future objectives and where they believe the green industry and the company is heading over the next few years.
Reviews, feedback and social media
In the technological world we live in today, there are multiple ways customers can submit reviews and feedback to your company, whether that be with customer satisfaction surveys, online reviews, word of mouth or social media.
Bryan Word, president, and Allison Kanne, director of communications, say that interacting with customers via Blackjack’s online channels is imperative now more than ever, as negative reviews can live forever in cyberspace.
“We keep a pretty close watch on what people are saying, what the comments are on a photo or if we get a Google review,” says Kanne. “We try to know what’s out there. And for many of them, our first course of action is to take some time to respond to them.”
When dealing with negative feedback, Word says it’s important to address it quickly and if it is something reasonable that can be fixed, they try their best to tackle and resolve it.
“Sometimes, you have the negative feedback where the person’s viewpoint is very one-sided, and you’ve got to balance that out,” says Word. “If you didn’t have the information you needed to do your job well or your hands were tied with certain things, it’s hard. But if we have someone that’s unhappy, we do our best to go over and above to make sure that we make it right.”
When negative feedback is presented, Kanne says that information is collected and stored in an Excel spreadsheet to allow Blackjack the ability to track any trends that might be appearing and figure out how they can make improvements.
Kanne says that Blackjack is active on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Houzz, but to date, Facebook and Instagram have proven to be the most effective for getting their messages out.
Because this line of work is so visual, Kanne says that being able to utilize Instagram’s platform has proven to be the most beneficial channel for the company.
“Of course, the goal is always to grow our follower count, but no matter how many followers we have, (my hope is that) Blackjack would be known as a professional company that provides personal care and service for each of our clients,” says Kanne. “(We don’t want them to) feel like a number but that we care for them as people and for their families, and at the same time deliver high-quality work and are quick and efficient to meet their needs.”
Turning back time
If he were to start at the beginning knowing what he knows now, Word says he would highly recommend to his younger self to get as much experience as possible, along with his in-class learning, as there are some things you can really only learn through experience.
Word also says it’s vital that you surround yourself with at least two or three solid individuals you can always turn to for advice.
“I think one of the biggest things I would say would be to make sure you surround yourself with good mentors,” says Word. “They don’t have to be in the industry, they can be in other business sectors, but people who have been there, gone through hard times and have experienced all the different facets of running a business.”
Sometimes, people just starting out are scared to ask for help but, he notes, there are so many experienced men and women in the industry who want to see the up and coming generations succeed and would willingly offer their time and advice. Don’t be afraid to seek them out and ask their opinions, he advises.
Word also notes that it’s important to always try and hire the best people possible because you will never be able to make your company succeed alone.
“Whatever success we have had, the good, bad and the ugly, we’re all in it together,” says Word.
As with any company in today’s world, there are pain points that accompany running Blackjack Horticulture.
Word says aside from the labor shortage, the two biggest issues he’s seen the company struggle with are learning how to coach and manage people and learning when to say no to customers or projects.
“Every person is different, every person receives and hears and learns differently,” says Word. “I still have a long way to go, but I’d say that’s been one of the hardest things for me in business to learn.”
Word also says in the past, he has often found it a struggle to know when to turn down clients or jobs and when to tough it out and move forward with them. Overall, Word says it comes down to knowing what your company can and can’t reasonably do and sticking with what you are confident with.
“Find what you’re good at and continue to develop that,” says Word. “I’m not saying you can’t venture out into new things, but you need to be intentional and deliberate about it and not just jump at everything that comes your way.”
Looking to the future
While he does admit the industry has seen its share of ups and downs over the years, Word sees the future of the green industry as something bright, innovative, positive and full of growth potential.
“I think the industry as a whole will continue to be successful and grow,” says Word. “I think technology has come a long way in our industry, even just recently. Our industry has tended to lag behind other industries when it comes to technology because we’re so people-intensive with what we do, but technology’s come a long way.”
Word believes the labor shortage will continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future, but the industry will have to learn to adapt and continue to push forward. Word says in the meantime, the green industry will just have to do a better job at assimilating and training the employees they have.
“You hear mixed reviews on the economy, whether it’s going to stay strong for a while or whether there’s a recession on the horizon; it’s hard to know,” says Word. “For us, we just try to keep our head down, keep working, keep planning, keep doing the things we’re supposed to be doing and try to be prepared.”
Along with seeing the potential for the green industry as a whole, Word says the future for Blackjack continues to look bright.
For Kanne, she hopes to try to grow the company’s social media presence and continue to get positive green industry messages out into the world, but along with that, she also hopes to instill a sense of personability and care into each of their customers.
“Yes, we would love to grow our work and our clientele within the city; that’s obviously the goal,” says Kanne. “But to me, what is more important than that is the fact that we can care for people both from a client perspective and from an employee perspective. I think the goal would be that we continue to do things and find creative ways to show appreciation to our clients and team members because people aren’t going to necessarily remember what you do but how you make them feel.”
Word agrees that growing the company both online and within the city are paramount, but to him, it all boils down to making sure his employees and the company as a whole are healthy and thriving internally.
“The key for us is that while growth is important and it is a priority, it’s not our utmost focus,” says Word. “We want to be a healthy company, we want to be looked at and viewed by our clients and even by our peers as a solid, reputable company. If we’re doing that and doing our best, then I’ve always believed that growth will follow.”