Trust is built in clear communication. Use these 6 strategies to improve your project experience.
Let's face it. The contracting and remodeling industry does not have the best reputation for clear communication. Especially between the customer and the contractor. We all have been there when you hired a contractor to remodel your bathroom and it's 10:00 am and no one has shown up. It is inevitable that there will be hiccups during the length of the project. It is how you communicate those hiccups is how you build your customer's trust and strengthen long-term relationships.
Here are 6 ways to improve your communication skills between your team and your customer:
Set expectations as early as possible. During our sales calls one of our questions we ask potential customers is “have you ever worked with contractors before?” The goal of that question is to lay the foundation of expectation. As contractors, we understand that a remodeling project is a roller coaster and there will be highs and lows. The highs being the design phase and material selection. The lows being the construction phase of loud noise and dust depending on the project.
Be pro-active. If a project requires for example flooring or walls to be demoed, especially older homes, communicate that there could be multiple layers of flooring or plaster behind the drywall. Understanding how homes were built is important. These are things that could impact the schedule or budget of the project. Get out in front of the issues that could arise.
Send daily and weekly project updates. Make sure not only the internal team is on the same page but the customer as well. We like to send checklist updates Sunday evening or Monday morning. This will outline what tasks will be done on certain days of the week. A quick checklist text or email may look something like this: Monday: The guys will be there between 8:30–9:00 am and will be demoing the bathroom today. Demo will take 6–8 hours and will clean up afterward. Tuesday: we will be framing and installing shower pan. Wednesday: we will be installing tile. Thursday: Electrical and plumbing. Friday: Installing toilet, vanity, sink, faucet, etc. You can add more detail but the point of this is to make sure everyone is on the same page. Clear, consistent communication throughout the entire project is key.
Don’t just talk about problems. Talk about solutions to the problems. When issues arise clearly communicate the problem and how you are going to solve the problem.
Invoicing. This should be clearly stated when installment payments are scheduled in the contract. Every contractor is different with installment periods but this should be clearly communicated before the pre-construction walkthrough and reminders throughout the project. Give your customers a few day's notice so they are prepared.
Be a human. Have a personable conversation with them from time to time! Ask them if they are happy, unhappy, anything you and the team can improve on, how’s life, work, the kids, etc. Ask them if they are happy and how you as a contractor can improve your process. Get to know them on a personal level. They hired you for a reason. We are in the people business. Build strong relationships and give them a reason to refer you to their friends and family.