October 12, 2021
Jacki Hart
Jacki Hart

I believe there are few events in business that may derail a customer’s trust and confidence more than a broken promise. 

Promises are what bring a customer into your business, whether it’s your brand promise, a value exchange promise, a service delivery promise, a design/build promise or a dream fulfilling promise. Whatever promises you and your team have made, keep them.

The challenge of keeping promises lies in the crevices of your communication systems. Yet, many businesses struggle with clear communication. Without clear and timely communication that’s consistently delivered, it’s pretty tough not to disappoint sooner or later.

Last month, for our monthly Peer To Peer Network Business Bites session, I hosted Glenn Curtis, principal at Plantenance Inc, based in Montreal. Glenn, who is also a business coach in our profession, is celebrating his company's 40th anniversary this year.

An impressive and rare milestone — especially with the added accolades of countless Awards of Excellence from Landscape Ontario for his team’s design/build talent.

In preparation for our hour-long chat, Glenn and I talked about how he ensures his company keeps its promises to their customers. I pulled a “Top 6 tips” from our chat, and that’s what we discussed for the Business Bite session. Here’s Glenn’s Top 6 recommendations:

Continuous Improvement Teams: Every winter (no, they don’t do snow anymore), the staff descend upon a large envelope full of notes, which have captured ideas and dropped balls as the season progressed. They sort and prioritize the notes, and then dig in to solving the root causes of communication and service issues. The end result is team engagement in new or tweaked systems, which are designed to continually fine-tune or replace the processes that failed.

Expectation Training: Each spring, Glenn brings in professional trainers from outside the company to assist with training employees on how to anticipate, communicate and manage customer expectations.

The three C’s — Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: The team at Plantenance are excellent communicators, and constantly ask themselves what they could do better. They are nimble, observant and open-minded. With the slightest hint of a customer being confused or on a different page, they dive into why, by asking questions such as: what did we say or write that led the customer to think that? Or what didn’t we write or say? How could we word our contracts differently? Do we need to change the order of clauses? How could we create a simple visual for customers to refer to their contract?

AAA – After Act Assessment: Taken from a military framework for debriefing an event, Glenn and his team are always asking themselves (and their customers) how did we do? They take the feedback and discoveries seriously, and quickly implement solutions to inefficiency and inaccuracies.

SOW – Scope of Work: Glenn is very proud of how detailed his design build contracts are. Yet he knows there’s always room for improvement. “We’re not perfect, but we sure try to be,” he remarked in our interview.

Digital change orders: Every business owner knows it’s difficult to manage changes on the fly, to get written approvals and to make sure materials are ordered in a timely way. And the biggie: to make sure everything is billed properly and in a timely way. 

Glenn’s team has created digital change orders, which put the right info into the right hands immediately. They also automatically update the customer’s budget, and their projected completion date on their project. 

The systems that help to manage both the volume of work and the precision of keeping promises at Plantenance are all living systems. They are constantly changing, adapting, tweaking and celebrating success. The Plantenance team sets a great example of how to use the concept of continuous improvement, with a dash of humility, to get the job of keeping promises done really well.

If you missed registering for the session, watch here in December for info on how to purchase the 2021 Business Bites series of 10 info-packed sessions from professionals across our association!
Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager