Construction projects are complex: from coordinating subcontractors and inspectors to planning everything from foundation and engineering to interior fit and finish, to the shingles on the roof—everything matters. Of course, unless you’re building your own home or commercial building, you have a customer to satisfy throughout the project. Some of us are fantastic builders to create masterpieces or can squeeze value out of every drop of the budget, yet find managing the customer relationship the most challenging. If you’re in that camp, here are a few tips to help you improve your customer experience.
Pre-Build, Set The Tone
That first impression matters most when securing the contract. If it’s a new customer, they likely responded to an ad, heard your name from a friend, or did a quick Internet search and your name popped up, hopefully next to a whole host of 5-star reviews. When you meet with the customer don’t expect them to take your word or trust you out of the gate, expect they will seek references, wish to see examples of your work, and have an array of questions about your process, project communication, and the level of involvement you have in the day-to-day operation of the job site. Come prepared with references to hand them, have a brochure or simplified roadmap to share with them, and be truthful with your answers. If you’re not an on-site contractor, give the “why”: “I have a foreman who is excellent with the crew, and really great with customers. If there is ever a problem, you can reach me directly at…” Being genuine and clearly articulating your process goes a long way in securing the contract.
Be Organized & Communicate With The Customer
Whether the job is on track or falling behind, the first call should be to the subcontractor or supplier responsible, the second, to the customer to update them on the project and the steps you’ve taken to resolve the situation. If there’s an unknown or the customer asks a question you can’t answer, “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer, as long as it’s followed with, “but I will look into it and get back to you.” Here’s the kicker: follow through with that communication on the back end.
Be Infection With Your Team
It’s great you’re taking these steps to be better with customers, but what do your customers think of your crew and subcontractors? You’ve heard the phrase, “lead by example,” right? It makes a great bumper sticker, but it’s also part of a great leadership strategy. Demonstrate excellent customer service in front of your crews and talk to them about it—ask them to take up the same challenge. This is a great way to see who’s ready for a promotion or additional responsibility—and who is just in it for a paycheck. This is easier said than done, but going back to the first point, most people will read reviews before calling or hiring a contractor; wouldn’t it be nice if you had 5-star after 5-star where customers praised not only the craftsmanship but also how helpful your crew is?