Refine Your Client Skills to Win More Jobs
"There's always room for improvement". "First impressions are what count". These are just sayings, true, and you're in the construction business, so how seriously should you take these particular ones to heart? Plenty, if you want to retain and expand your client base. Your firm could produce some of the world's best structures, but that may not matter if you leave prospective clients with the impression that you represent a firm that's careless, corner cutting, lazy, and arrogant. All of these are actual charges that have been levied by clients against contractors in the aftermath of projects. In a few cases, these charges have been legitimate. Most of them though, have sprung from project misunderstandings, usually mutual. The good news is that because so many of the same problems arise again and again, savvy construction administrators can learn construction management skills and anticipate many of them to head them off at the pass. And what problems should they be looking out for?
Planning And PaperworkContractors and clients should always thoroughly review all paperwork that they exchange, and always asks for clarification on any points that they find confusing. Contractors should be especially patient with smaller clients, such as those having a private residence built. They should be careful to make sure that these clients understand costs and scheduling associated with the project before the project begins. They should also keep terminology regarding work, equipment, and parts as simple as possible. For larger projects (such as state and Federal contracts), firms should make sure that they read all paperwork that they receive, and fully understand what they are reading. These types of contracts require points of contact on both ends, and this is a good practice to follow for smaller, private projects as well. Make sure that these POCs establish how and how often to contact the other party (daily updates or weekly?) before the project commences.
Embrace The TechnologyWhile you and your clients should have multiple methods for communicating, there's no denying that the digital age is well and truly upon us. Software like Raken makes it easy for contractors to send frequent updates to clients of progress via mobile devices, including photographs. Raken's formats for daily reporting means that contractors can share work data in real time, or store it and produce it later. Contractors should get comfortable too with other digital technologies such as building imaging models (BIMS) that allow them to walk clients "through" projects in 3-D mode. Photo apps that allow clients to see projects growing can also be used.
Toot Your Own HornThere's nothing wrong of being proud of good work, and clients actually would prefer to work with contractors who have had previous experience and can provide references. Try to pick similar projects for your sales pitch, and talk candidly about what went both right and wrong with these jobs. If you've won awards and have received training and certification that might enhance job chances, don't be afraid to make this information available as well.
These techniques, plus a professional and courteous manner at all times, may well be the key to having potential clients looking at your firm in a new and definitely interested light.