If you’ve owned and operated a contracting business for any significant amount of time, there’s a good chance that you’ve had situations where you and the homeowners weren’t on the same page. This is a function of the fact that remodeling can be a stressful experience, as an extensive remodel can bring about a sense of disruption and upheaval.
It is possible, however, to work with your clients in a way that keeps unnecessary headaches to a minimum for both parties. The key is to pay attention to details at every stage of the planning and execution of the job.
If you manage the project the right way, your client will be left with a result that they’ll rave about without reservations. Here’s how to do it.
Agreement With Precise Details
From your initial meeting with a potential client, it’s vital that you communicate exactly what you plan to do to complete the job they’re requesting. You must insist that the client settles on a specific action plan and that they’re committed to the desired end result.
This is particularly helpful when dealing with a client that tends to be indecisive. If every detail of the project is spelled out in advance, you can insist upon a formal process of change orders for any updates. This will keep the project on track and keep your client crystal clear on what they’ll be getting from you.
Conduct a Detailed Walkthrough
Before any work begins, conduct a walkthrough of any areas of the home that will be worked on directly, as well as anywhere that will be used for material storage or transit.
Make careful notes of any existing damage to the home and go over it with the homeowner. Explain exactly what the work entails and how (and potentially for how long) each phase will take. Let the homeowner know, to the best of your ability, how you expect the work to impact their daily life. Be specific, but avoid sounding like an alarmist.
The clearer the picture you provide, the less stress the homeowner will experience.
Prepare the Client for Contingencies
It is very rare that a remodeling or construction job will go precisely as planned. The physical reality of the building you’re working on can hold surprises you hadn’t anticipated.
It’s important to let the client know that there can be unforeseen circumstances that are out of your control that can arise during the job. For example, if you open up a wall and find existing conditions that aren’t up to code, they may need to be corrected before anything else can be completed. When these discoveries happen, address them immediately with the homeowner.
Communication is Key
It should go without saying, but you should be in constant communication with your client throughout all phases of the job. Let them know exactly when you are available to go over any concerns they may have, and take care to keep them updated as the work progresses.
Since the problems most homeowners have with remodeling or renovations stem from ceding control of their home to an outsider, the more included they feel in the process, the less they’ll worry. You’ll also find that if you initiate the conversations yourself, the client will be less apt to interrupt you or your crew while you’re trying to complete the work.
Keep the Work Area Tidy
Although it can be difficult to do on a busy job site, make every effort to keep the client’s home as clean and unobstructed as possible. The extra time it takes to do this more than pays off in a far less stressful environment for all involved.
Think of the client’s home as you would your own. After all, you wouldn’t take kindly to waking up to piles of dust and debris in your home on a regular basis. Reserve time each day to make sure that the work area is cleaned and that any materials that must remain are stored as neatly and unobtrusively as possible.
If you make the effort to plan and execute every job with these principles in mind, you’ll find that you can tame even the most difficult of clients. Also, you’ll be satisfied each day in knowing that you are building a reputation both for quality work, as well as excellent customer service. It’s the same kind of customer service that we strive to provide at all of our locations through our dedicated and knowledgeable staff. When you’re planning your next job, come on in to see us — we’re always happy to help!