Pro Tips
Client Management for Construction - 7 Steps to Avoid Confusion and Conflict
BuildBook Team
September 15, 2021

“Promise less – deliver more.” Sounds like great customer service advice, right? And in the abstract, it is. But customers are not abstractions. They are real, living, breathing humans with expectations. Sometimes very high expectations. Great customer service is about understanding and managing those expectations. Residential construction management software can help you gain – and keep – happy customers.

Handling expectations for clients can be a challenging aspect of managing any residential building project. In this article, we discuss key strategies for managing client communications before, during, and after a project to avoid confusion and conflict with clients.

The Client Journey

There is a process – or journey – that you go through with each client. There are six major steps in that journey. Each step has client expectations to manage. Here we will explain how residential construction management software can help you manage those expectations throughout the client journey. 

Step 1: First Touchpoint

The first touchpoint is the beginning of the client journey. Unfortunately, the journey often ends right here. You see, the client has expectations from the get-go. They expect that you are a reputable company with the expertise they need to solve their problem. Your company profile is a critical part of that first touchpoint. Residential construction management software provides the tools you need to begin the client journey. Here are the expectations that are set at the first touchpoint:

What you offer. A prospective client expects to quickly determine what kind of work you can do for them. Residential construction management software for small businesses provides you with a comprehensive business profile you can customize.

How well you do it. Your prospective client expects to see great photos of your work. Most humans are visual creatures. We admit that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is an overused saying. Doesn’t make it less true. Residential construction management software gives you a way to organize your project photos so prospective clients can quickly find pictures of the work they are interested in.

What others think about you. A prospective client wants to know how well the client journey went for others. Testimonials and reviews help them determine whether they want to even consider your business for their project. Residential construction management software for small businesses gives you an easy way to post testimonials and reviews.

How quickly you respond. A prospective client expects to easily find a way to contact you if they choose. They also expect that if and when they do reach out you will respond quickly. No one likes to be kept waiting. Residential construction management software for small businesses helps you automatically reach out to prospective clients.

Step 2: Preparing an Estimate

Residential construction management software for small contractors helps you create and manage bids. Look for software that makes it easy to prepare estimates and quickly provide quotes to your prospective clients.

Step 3: Setting a Project Budget

You’ve successfully managed the client’s expectations about the overall project cost in Step 2 with your estimate. Now it’s time to get down to the details with the project budget. Residential construction management software for small contractors will include a budget tool so you can drill down on costs. This avoids surprising the client with what they may perceive as “unexpected” budget increases.

Step 4: Scheduling

You want a way to manage client expectations about when each phase of the project will be completed. Most projects (okay likely every project) will have its schedule impacted by client changes. Residential construction management software for small businesses uses a budgeting tool to communicate the impact of those requested changes. It also allows you to manage the tasks related to those change requests – like ensuring the client signs off on the new schedule and budget.

Step 5: Pre-final Inspection

A residential construction project can include a lot of people. Even a small contractor is likely working with subs for electrical, plumbing, flooring, and more. The pre-final inspection is critical. Residential construction software for small contractors allows you to create a punch list by easily setting up tasks and assigning those tasks to project team members.

Step 6: Project Wrap Up

When you finish the residential construction project you are not finished managing client expectations. There are still several tasks to complete. Residential construction software for small businesses helps you wrap up the project right using task management. We recommend that every project include tasks related to the following:

Client Satisfaction

Check in with the client soon after project completion to ask if they are happy with the work. Address any questions or concerns quickly. You can use client satisfaction surveys – after you’ve contacted the client personally. Construction management software for small contractors provides task management to make sure you remember to reach out to the client. And handle any problems that arise post-project.

Project Evaluation

The project team should review and document the project. Answer the following questions:

  • Was the project on time and on budget? Why or why not?
  • What problems came up and how were they resolved?
  • How can you improve future projects?
  • What is each team member’s view of the client experience?
  • Would you want to work with this client in the future? 

The goal is to identify what went well and what can be improved upon. This is not the time for blaming and shaming. Every project has problems, and you want to try to avoid them in the future. Every project has successes – and you want to continue to do those things well.

Get More Residential Construction Business

"The average company drives up to 50% of their revenue with referrals from previous clients."

Your best sales leads are your current customers. They can help you get new business. You already have a relationship with them. Don’t be shy and ask for:

  • A testimonial
  • A review
  • Referrals

Your goal is to manage client expectations – and improve the client journey in the future.

Pro Tip: Check out 3 Steps to Increase Client Referrals for your Construction Business.

Sales Lead Management for Small Business 

Residential construction management software for small businesses provides a platform for collecting and responding to sales leads. It provides a way to evaluate each sales lead. It gives you one place to keep your notes about prospective clients. Unless you have a photographic memory, you’ll need to quickly access details about each client.

Your Expectations

It’s not just clients who have expectations – you do too. You expect that a sales lead will provide you with an opportunity to increase your business. The hard truth is that some prospective clients are highly unlikely to select you for their project. Some never intend to in the first place – like competitors contacting you as part of their local market research. Residential construction management software for contractors provides automated lead analysis. Then you can decide if a prospective client is worth your valuable time.

Construction Management Software for Small Contractors

Here is a real-world example of how residential construction management software for small contractors can help you manage client expectations. Think back to a time when you encountered a similar situation. Could you have landed that big client with residential construction management software?

Scenario: You’re out in the field and a prospective client whose business you’ve been trying to get for three months finally asks for an estimate.

Without residential construction management software for small contractors: You have to remember to check your texts and emails periodically throughout a busy day to see if the prospective client has contacted you. 

Risk: You miss the client’s communication, and they move on to the next small contractor who quickly provides an estimate. By the time you respond they have already gone with contractor #2.

With residential construction management software for small contractors: You can automatically respond to the prospective client with a link to schedule a meeting with you. Or to a form where they can fill out details of their project so you can provide an estimate. Now you’re one step closer to earning their business!

Construction Management Software for Small Business

Here is a real-world example of how residential construction management software for small businesses can help manage client expectations. Think back to a time when you encountered a similar situation. Would residential construction management software for small businesses have helped set client expectations?

Scenario: You’re waiting for a response to the residential construction project estimate you sent to a prospective client.

Without residential construction management software for small businesses: You setup reminders on your phone to follow up with the client.

Risk: You’re busy and don’t notice the reminder that popped up on the screen for 2 nanoseconds. The client isn’t happy with – or doesn’t understand – the estimate you sent. Instead of contacting you they chose to go with the residential construction company who remembered to follow up.

With residential construction management software for small businesses: You set up automatic communications to the client to review the estimate through their client dashboard. Of course you have already set up a task using the residential construction management software to remind you or someone on your team to contact the client.

7 Easy Tips to Manage Client Expectations for Residential Construction Firms

Here are seven easy ways to manage client expectations during a residential construction project:

  1. From first touchpoint to project completion, respond quickly to client questions and concerns.
  2. Complete your construction business portfolio with quality photos and real testimonials to set client expectations about what your construction company can do for them.
  3. Provide clear and concise project bids so the prospective client knows exactly what they will receive for the price you provide.
  4. Keep the project schedule current and communicate schedule changes with the client.
  5. Respond to client change requests and clearly share budget and schedule impacts with them.
  6. Be honest with the client about problems that arise and, more importantly, how you are going to fix them.
  7. Exceed client expectations by reaching out to them post-project to make sure the final product has met their needs. 

Master the Client Journey with BuildBook

BuildBook residential construction management software can help you master the client journey. All the tools you need to manage client expectations are contained in BuildBook’s easy-to-use platform that you can tailor to your residential construction business. From first touchpoint to project wrap up, make the residential construction project journey worth the trip for your client – and you.

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