November 3, 2021
I recently hosted another episode of the Landscape Ontario Peer to Peer Network Virtual Business Bites Series.

I was thrilled to spend the hour talking with Scott Wentworth about how his company, Wentworth Landscapes, has determined its ideal client avatar.

I’m taking the liberty to paraphrase Wentworth in saying that in his business, it’s equally as important to determine who the ideal clients are, and who they are not. 

“Prequalifying isn’t black and white, it’s intuitive,” Wentworth explained.

At Wentworth Landscapes, one key driver for knowing who is a right fit, is being clear on a key company-wide goal: to create “the raving fan experience” for their customers.

“When the company and team goal is to partner with the client so they both enjoy the process of the project as much as the end result, this draws a line in the sand,” Wentworth said. 

When red flags pop-up as warning signs for the sales and design team, they act on it, using their intuition to inform decisions whether or not to take on a client.

Here are my top takeaways from our online discussion:
•  Be very clear in advance, exactly who the company is, and who is right fit to both work in and with the team. Without this clarity, you won’t know whether the client seems aligned with your company culture and values. If you don’t know who is right- and wrong-fit, and know how to act on it, you are likely going to struggle with clients who either give the team a hard time or leave unhappy.

• Be very clear and steadfast as to whether the work the client wants done is within your profitable wheelhouse. This means you need to know which types of work are more profitable than others for your business, and focus on making it a part of the decision as to which projects you are willing to take on.

• Make sure you know, crew-by-crew, the types of work that will energize the team. It’s important for your team to know that you’re strategically selecting work they are confident to do and they enjoy — as much as possible.

• Use your company branding as a filter to guide the right projects (or locations) for the clients you take on. All too often, you’ll hear stories of a company that took on a specialty job — a “one-off” that turned out to be a nightmare. Stick to what you’re known for, and to what you and the team are accustomed to accomplishing. 

• Take time to learn if a prospective client’s ethics are aligned with your company. Some great examples that Wentworth shared included red flagging a prospect who isn’t interested in either getting permits, or preserving habitat, or respecting neighbours/community/bylaws. Stick to your own ethics and invite customers who expect you to compromise to seek a different company for their project.

• Learn whether the client is interested in partnering with you on the project. This is a big one for Wentworth and his team. They only take on a client who will be engaged and partner with them on the whole project. 
“We are always competing with the other experiences the client could purchase with their expendable income. So we’d better make it fabulous. Listen to your instincts,” Wentworth said. “Give yourself the permission to drop clients before you start to work for them.” 

Taking in all of Wentworth’s comments in our discussion, leaves me reflecting on one of our Prosperity Partners Pillars of Good Business: Relationships for Life. Think of the “client for life” relationship and ask yourself: “Is this someone who you want to work for many times over?” If you see red flags, run the other way.