Be consistent. If you can’t be consistent in your service and procedures, your customer experience will surely suffer and you will struggle to retain clients or have repeat customers. Consumers tend to have short memories. When your brand comes to their mind, they might ask, “What has X done for me lately? How was my last experience?” You want to be sure that the quality of your service or product is outstanding every single time so that answer is always positive.
As part of my customer service interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Cahill. He has co-founded and served in various executive and leadership positions in three service companies which have grown from 400K dollars to 10M dollars in total annual revenues. In 2010, Cahil and his business partner EJ McCoy formed Poop Troops (now Scoop Soldiers), At Scoop Soldiers, the premier residential pet waste removal company throughout the south. Over the past 10 years. Cahill has led the company to an average of 112% YOY income growth and begin a successful franchising program to expand the brand.
Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
My first foray into business was in the lawn care service industry, so the idea of taking on tasks that homeowners don’t have time for or are generally undesirable was already top of mind for myself and my business partner. The idea to expand into pet waste came about because our lawn crews were constantly sharing awful stories about attempting to work in lawns that were just covered in poop, which made their jobs a lot harder. We were aware of similar businesses in the Dallas area and felt that with our experience and network, we would be able to further ease the burden on homeowners, plus keeping neighborhoods and waterways safe from the toxins that that are released when those unsightly piles are left to their own devices.
Our initial struggles from 2010–2014 included figuring out how to reach the families of the 600,000+ dogs in Dallas-Fort Worth to consistently expand our customer base, as well as figuring out the most efficient processes and ideal equipment. Many people consider their dogs to be an extension of their families, so we found that shows how carefully we care for and consider the dog’s best interest during our visits was a way to quickly build trust with our clients.
We continued investing all of our profits into the company until 2014, when we were finally able to expand to additional cities and begin hiring technicians. With their help and dedication, we’re now proud to say that we are operating in 14 cities, including Atlanta, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, Orlando, Phoenix, Tulsa, Tampa, and more. We also recently began a franchising program so that aspiring entrepreneurs can take advantage of our proven business model to bring Scoop Soldiers to more locations around the country.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I’m brought back to the very first client and job that Scoop Soldiers ever took on. We were still learning about the business and trying to figure out the most efficient way to actually pick up and remove the waste from the yard. For some reason, we thought the best way would be by hand. We arrived at our first yard with just a bucket and some gloves. Needless to say, my back was aching and I ended up hilariously crawling around in the yard as we realized that it was not going to work. Looking back, it was definitely not smart, scalable, or practical. The methods we use now are 100% different.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
EJ McCoy, my business partner, has been there with me from the very beginning. When we first started this adventure, everyone thought we were wasting our time; then, when we were finally successful, they told us to slow down. Most have since admitted they were wrong, but it has been so encouraging to have a business partner and confidant like EJ. We also owe credit to several partners and mentors we’ve had along the way. These individuals have taught us the importance of not only being unafraid to ask for advice but to also be quick to take it.
In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
There likely are hundreds of people who have the capability to perform the service you are offering or produce the product you are selling. What Scoop Soldiers does is not rocket science; however, I have seen that not everyone is able to show the care and gratefulness for the ability to serve their clients that we do. It’s about so more than just completing the job.From ensuring the security of the yard to showcasing proper sanitation of our tools, to providing photographic evidence showing that a job is finished, to remembering names of both dogs and their owners, to something as simple as bringing in trash cans since we’re already there — implementing small, standardized ways to show customers that they matter to us has greatly contributed to our success.
We have all had times when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
It’s hard for me to connect with that mindset, and I often find myself asking that exact same question as a customer. As a business owner, you should value excellence and hold both yourself and your employees accountable to protect your reputation and continuously improve. Employees want to work for successful companies with good reputations, and consumers want to interact with successful companies with good reputations. If you are in the business of selling, delivering, or completing a product or service, not making customer service a cornerstone of your business is wildly irresponsible and counterintuitive.
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
Competition should absolutely drive companies to want to improve their customer service. With so many great entrepreneurs in the game, founders have to do everything they can to stand out. If you aren’t providing what a consumer considers to be at least acceptable levels of customer service, you’re likely to be crossed off of their list of service providers in lieu of your competition.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, a client who has a child with an autoimmune disease reached out regarding our safety procedures, understandably concerned about people visiting their house. We walked her through the precautions we had put in place, which included protective coverings and wiping down all surfaces we had touched. After our visit, she wrote a really touching note complementing our technician and the extra steps we made sure to take to protect her family.
We also experienced some pauses in service from our clients who had been laid off or were experiencing some financial difficulties during the pandemic. To help relieve some of the burdens on our clients, we held a few giveaways on our social pages for a free month of service for those clients. The feedback we received on that initiative was so positive, and it inspires us to do even more small things like that for our customers
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Communication is 100% the most important thing. Whether by email, phone, or another avenue — give your customers some way to get in touch with you and be able to connect person to person. From encouraging our technicians get to know the dogs and build a rapport with their clients from our social media team engaging directly with our followers and never letting a question go unanswered, allowing your customers to reach you and feel heard is imperative.
2. Be consistent. If you can’t be consistent in your service and procedures, your customer experience will surely suffer and you will struggle to retain clients or have repeat customers. Consumers tend to have short memories. When your brand comes to their mind, they might ask, “What has X done for me lately? How was my last experience?” You want to be sure that the quality of your service or product is outstanding every single time so that answer is always positive.
3. Make it easy for people to spend money with you. Utilize digital platforms, make everything mobile-friendly, streamline your sign-up service, provide multiple ways to contact you, offer extended customer service hours — make everything as convenient and easy as possible for your customer to make their purchase or request your service.
4. When faced with a customer service issue or conflict, make sure that resolution is as swift as possible. When we fail, we are committed to taking responsibility and always making it right with the customer within 24 hours. Ignoring a problem will only make it worse in the long run.
5. Show your customers that you care about and consider how your product or service can positively impact their life. Scoop Soldiers is a service that saves our clients time and relieves them of an annoying chore for a small cost. Find easy ways to communicate how you are making their life better or easier. We do small things that have a big impact to show our customers that we care. For example, one of our policies is to always send our clients a picture of their locked gate as we exit the yard to ensure the safety of their home and pet. Sometimes, if the dog is out, we’ll even send a shot of their happy pup to brighten their day. Again something small — but it puts a smile on our clients’ faces and shows them that we care.
Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
Referral programs are always effective, as well as encouraging your customers to engage with you on social media. Host contests or giveaways that require tagging a friend for entry, or create gift cards to market to your current customer base.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Time is such a commodity in today’s world. We started Scoop Soldiers to give our customers back some of that valuable time. I would love to see more people in the world follow suit to do something simple every day to make someone else’s life a little easier.
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