Have you ever wondered what in the world your client was thinking when they text you at ten o’clock at night about their faucet?
You need to remember that most people will only do a major renovation a couple of times in their life. You, on the other hand, live, breathe, and work construction. So it’s easy to forget that your clients know little to nothing about the process and they need your guidance.
Here are 4 things a client wants and needs to know before the project begins.
Honestly, how long is this project going to take?
Take the time to get to know your clients and their expectations. What are their goals with this project? Is there a family reunion coming up? Or are they hosting their daughter’s wedding in 6 weeks?
Things don’t always go as planned, and that goes without saying in construction. But, doing your best to stay on track is key to building the client’s trust. Be sure you’re able to complete the job as close to the schedule as possible.
This might require a little extra work upfront, but it’s well worth it during the project. Having your timeline clear also helps you and your team moving forward.
So it’s a win-win.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
If there’s a change in the schedule – and they do legitimately happen – let your client know immediately and why. Anticipating and answering questions before they’re asked gives the client confidence that you’re on top of things.
Often times, a client is a-ok with minor changes and even expects them.
Really, how much is this going to cost?
More than 50% of construction projects go over budget. This is a common complaint of homeowners, even though they oftentimes contribute to the hike. But right out of the gate, the client should have a realistic and accurate cost estimate.
I’m sure you’ve had clients that suddenly want a marble waterfall countertop on their kitchen islands, but didn’t budget for it. This is pretty normal and will require you to make changes along the way.
Being flexible and doing your best to accommodate your client’s request, while keeping their budget in mind will go a long way. Give them choices in different price ranges so they understand all of their options.
But, keep the timeline in mind and always communicate the impact any changes will make. Remember, what’s obvious to you isn’t obvious to them.
Itemize the project materials and labor. And always bid high and finish low.
Having a set fee structure is a great way to have transparency. This way any changes made only reflect in the cost of the materials. And your fee isn’t continuing to go up – no matter how many times the client changes their mind.
What do I need to do? Is this process going to be all-consuming for the next few months?
Make it clear what you need from them, when you need it, and why you need it. Check out our Pro Tip on this: 4 Tips To Managing Your Clients Like a Pro
This is the time to educate the client on your expectations and set their mind at ease. Open discussions will keep everyone on the same page.
Construction terms can, and likely will, confuse your client ... going in one ear and out the other. Remember, they don’t live in the world of construction like you do.
Make it easy for them, explain it to them like you would your 7-year-old niece. Reassure them that you’re going to hold their hand along the way and make sure they understand what you’re telling them.
Break the project down into single smaller decisions for the client. Create a calendar of what you expect and when you expect it, but keep it simple. If you’re doing plumbing on Thursday, don’t talk to the client about appliances the same day.
Schedule regular “check-up” meetings once a week to review the calendar, preferably at the end of the day. So the client has time to think about their options and is able to make a more clear decision.
Are we on track? This is a common question. And if you created a detailed timeline in the beginning, it’s an easy question to answer.
After every delay or change, update the schedule. If the client is able to see that this week was focused on electrical, you probably won’t get a question about the floors.
And if you do, it’s easy to refer back to the timeline. This reassures the client that it’s on your radar and you got this.
Stay on track with communication. If you’re communicating regularly then there are no surprises.
Organize your updates and send them on a set schedule. This way if your client’s on a family vacation they aren’t thinking about the project, but instead relaxing – and not bombarding you with questions. They trust that you’ll send an update at the end of the day like you always do. Consistency is everything.
Some of the most common complaints clients have are that the project took much longer than they were told, it cost more than they expected, there was a lack of communication, and that no one followed the schedule. The Solution...
Develop your own repeatable process or keep it simple by using a tool like BuildBook that is designed to help keep your team and clients organized and on the same page throughout every project.
If everyone is on the same page, it’s smooth sailing. That means more five-star reviews and clients referrals, now that’s what we’re talking about!