Professional builders have a bad rap for not communicating effectively. In 2018, miscommunication and poor project data were responsible for nearly half of all rework in the U.S, costing the construction industry roughly $31 billion. While part of the problem may be poor communication between workers, a lack of connection between contractors and their clients may be to blame as well.
To be fair, builders and contractors have few opportunities to improve their interpersonal communication skills, especially when they spend most of their day at noisy job sites. However, if you want to impress clients and grow your business, developing client relationships is key.
1. Establish a Method of Communication
The first step to improving client relations involves establishing a primary method of communication you both feel comfortable using. As a busy professional, you may prefer to receive texts or emails that you can respond to later. Inform the client early on which method you’ll use to contact them and kindly request they use the same one to speak with you. This simple strategy will ensure neither of you misses important updates or time-sensitive inquiries.
2. Ask Questions
It’s also important to ask your client questions throughout the project to understand what they want and why they want it. For instance, if they desire granite countertops, you might inquire as to why they didn’t choose marble or quartz, instead. Likewise, if they request a fireplace in one room and you can’t seem to make it work, ask whether they would consider moving it to another place. Listen attentively, maintain eye contact and avoid interrupting to communicate effectively.
3. Share Updates
As you and your employees work to complete the project, frequently share updates with clients to remind them you care and that things are moving along just as you planned. Moreover, when you experience setbacks or delays, inform your client — especially if you must push back the completion date. Ultimately, honesty is the best policy and your clients will appreciate your authenticity, even if their house or office building requires an extra day or two of work.
4. Keep It Simple
There’s a fine line between being honest and oversharing. Updating clients too often or speaking with them about insignificant details is frustrating and unnecessary. When talking to clients, consider what’s weighing on their mind and simply cut to the chase. Be direct and concise to avoid sharing more than you should. Identifying a focus for your conversation will also keep the chat on-topic and brief so you can get back to work in no time.
5. Impress Your Clients
Physically communicating with clients isn’t the only way to improve relationships. Ultimately, the best way to build stronger connections is to impress your clients with the quality and timeliness of your work. If you don’t succeed at accomplishing these two things, no amount of communication will save your business. Therefore, you and your team must communicate well and work hard to complete projects before their deadline.
Growing Your Business
Each year, the construction industry receives more complaints than any other sector. Yet, your company doesn’t have to be one of the many bearing a bad reputation. By communicating effectively and doing great work, you can build and maintain strong relationships with your clients. Moreover, you’ll probably receive fewer complaints. In fact, your business will likely grow and begin taking even more clients.
When expansion happens, be sure to hire a customer service representative or team to oversee communications on a larger scale. Doing so will ensure both new and returning clients receive the care and attention they deserve. Plus, it will let you put down the phone for once and finally get back to work.