Make Communication a Priority …
Communicating with clients when working on a construction job is one of the most important things contractors need to do well. Many get it wrong for several reasons. When communication is not prioritized, a lot of money ends up getting wasted, causing problems for everyone involved. Those working on the job can even end up in bad situations that could potentially put their lives at risk. When misunderstandings take place, there is a lot of frustration, but the frustration often leads to larger issues, including troubles with payments and lawsuits that are filed on behalf of the clients because of their dissatisfaction.
Many professionals have had a difficult time keeping the lines of communication open with their clients. It is important for these professionals to make sure that their clients are fully aware of how much money they are going to need to pay for the project and how long they should expect the entire process to take, especially since it can take quite some time depending on the complexity of it. As a professional, you should always keep your clients fully aware of any problems that arise, any delays that could potentially occur, and any specific risks that may be involved throughout the process.
You must feel confident with the work you are doing and the amount of time you have available to get it all done. Giving your clients unrealistic expectations is not the kind of thing that will work out very well for anyone. Always remain upfront and honest, providing as much transparency as you possibly can to ensure that your clients are fully satisfied with your work and continue to hire you or refer you to others because of all you have done.
Work on Building Trust
One of the first things you should want to do is build trust between yourself and your clients. During your initial meeting with a client, provide the different reasons why the client should hire you to handle the specific project that they have for you. It is a good time to mention the experience that you have, along with all the different projects you have successfully worked on over the years. Providing an impressive portfolio is a great way to get a client to want to hire you for the project that he or she has. If you do not already have a portfolio put together, now is the time to create one.
You need to work on making the best first impression. If you exude confidence, the clients are going to notice that confidence and they are going to trust in your ability to handle the work that they currently have for you. When you know that you are an expert, you need to make other people aware of that as well because then those people will feel confident in hiring you. When you do not act confidently, those potential clients could question your ability to help them with what they need to have done.
Make Things Clear When Speaking to Clients
There are a lot of words that you use in the construction industry that most people would not know the meaning to for the most part. For example, you may easily discuss backing rods and balloon framing when you are working on a project, but the average person is not going to know what those things are or what they mean. Constantly using industry jargon when talking to your clients is only going to cause more confusion and frustration for them. Always try to break things down and make things clear when you are talking to your clients and trying to explain the different things that you plan to do.
The reason you need to break things down is to make sure that your clients understand you. When you are speaking in terms that are easy for them to comprehend, you are making them more aware of the situation. You are providing them with as much information pertaining to their project as possible instead of causing them more confusion. In fact, some clients are turned off by professionals that constantly speak in industry jargon because it makes them feel like they are being talked down to, and that is not the way that you want to make your clients feel.
Not sure how to break things down better? Try practicing with a family member or friend who does not work in the construction industry. Talk to the client in the same way that you would explain a construction project to someone you love.
Know Who to Contact Directly
It becomes frustrating when there are a lot of people involved in the construction project because then you might not know who you need to contact when you have something to discuss. If an issue occurs and you contact the wrong person, it may not get back to the right person for quite some time, which is going to lead to even more problems for everyone. Because you want to avoid playing the guessing game while trying to figure out who to contact, you should have details about the point of contact in your contract. You should have that person’s phone number and email address available because then you can reach out to him or her when needed.
The same thing goes for your clients. You do not want your clients to feel like they are getting the run around when trying to reach you. Make sure your clients have a number and email that you check frequently. You do not want to leave them waiting around, especially if they have important questions or concerns that they would like to speak to you about when you have the time available to do so.
Be a Good Listener
Spend more time listening and less time talking. Although you do need to talk to explain things, you should always lend an ear when your client wants to discuss things. Most people do not remember much of what they are told. It becomes even more of a challenge to remember what someone just said when you are distracted with something else, such as an incoming call or text on your smartphone. Because active listening does not always come naturally, you should work on figuring out different ways to become a better listener. Focus on what the person is saying and what their words truly mean rather than listening just to listen.
These are a few tips that could help you become an even better listener in no time:
• Match the speed of the person you are talking to. Some people do not talk as fast, so slow it down if you need to.
• If there is something you are uncertain about, always ask questions to see what the other person says. Allow the person to have time to answer that question instead of interrupting him or her.
• Offer eye contact. It shows the person that you are paying attention to what he or she is saying.
• Repeat the words that have been spoken to you but in your own way. You need to verify that you have understood what the individual is saying to you.
Establish Communication Right Away
You should have basic rules when it comes to communicating with your clients. You need to keep a schedule based on when you will contact these individuals to let them know about updates, ask questions, or even answer questions when needed. You need to make sure your clients understand that they should not call you in the middle of the night with concerns, but that they can reach you during normal business hours. After all, you do want to provide your clients with exceptional service, but that does not mean you should have to lose sleep over the situation either. These are a few good questions to ask yourself when trying to figure out how often to communicate with your clients:
• When is the best time to provide updates on projects?
• What are the best methods of communicating with the clients?
• What types of information will you need to share with the clients?
• Who will you need to contact with updates?
With this information in mind, make it a priority to communicate even better with your clients. If you are communicating clearly, they will have a better understanding of what is going on, their expectations will remain realistic, and they will end up being far more satisfied with the entire process.