Hello again! I hope you enjoyed my last blog, and hopefully you weren’t too bored with all of the legal details! So this month I would like to go over how we conduct business. And how I’ve seen other companies conduct business, along with any other thoughts or musings that come to mind.
Most clients do not realize that their project is very much like a new relationship. When the client and the contractor meet for the first time, they’re always on their best behavior. Everyone is very polite, everyone is all smiles, which is proper as far as I am concerned. Some clients can take on a serious tone because most projects do involve a substantial investment of time, finances and personal involvement. But I generally find that more times than not everyone is pleasant. Then as time moves on, most clients and contractors get comfortable with each other. They let their guard down and their real personalities emerge. After all, most projects can take anywhere from a week to a year depending on the scope of the project. We always try to touch base with our clients everyday. This isn’t always practical for the client, sometimes the communications are hindered due to work, obligations etc. But the happiest clients are always the ones we see or talk to everyday. And this of course, builds the relationship. The relationship should always remain professional.
When we first meet it is in the interest of both parties to gather and understand as much information about the project as possible. So below I will list some much needed questions your contractor should be asking you! And of course I always ask…
- Do you have blueprints?
- How do you want the project managed?
- Do you want a hands on contractor?
- Are you looking to have the complete project managed by the contractors team?
- What are your concerns?
- What financial steps have you taken?
- What is your budget?
- What is the current value of your home and the homes in your neighborhood?
- Is there anything you would like me to know before we begin; about you, your family, your expectations?
- Have you ever done this type of work before, or any construction work for that matter.
- How long do you plan to stay in your home?
- How long have you been considering this project?
- How will you measure whether your project has been successful?
Now all of these questions open up a complete dialog which is necessary between you and your contractor. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. I would rather be asked about the details, plans etc. then to have the client become upset because of a misunderstanding. Don’t ever feel apologetic because you have the need to ask a question. That is your contractors job to give you peace of mind.
The construction business is full of false impressions, whether it’s on the part of the client or the part of the contractor. Please understand it is sadly true that some people in this business will use them to win your confidence in order to make the sale. While I always want to make the sale, I will not deceive you in order to accomplish that. But the truth is sometimes contractor and owner are not a good fit. So here is a short list of common misconceptions.
- We have been in business for years and years therefore we will perform a quality job for you.
- My family line has been in the business or trades for years.
- We have completed thousands of jobs.
- Anything that has a high investment amount is of high quality.
- Projects run into a high dollar amount because the contractor is making a lot of money.
- Details are unnecessary since this is a simple project.
- We don’t need a contract.
So what is a person or family to do? In order to gain trust there must be transparency. Everything should be open to discussion. If an area is brushed aside or passed over it could be a warning sign. I want my clients to trust me, therefore I am always open and honest with them. Even if that means sending them to one of my competitors. I achieve a level comfort by being honest and accountable for my actions. I don’t like surprises and for most part the folks I know don’t either. I understand that we are all human, and people make mistakes, but it is how we handle them that counts. I picked up a phrase a long time ago from a fellow worker he would always say” There are no problems, only solutions!” I liked the phrase so much I’ve adopted it into my work philosophy. I am solution oriented. I don’t dwell on the problem, or why and how it occurred, but on the immediate solution. This doesn’t mean that I don’t learn from my mistakes or the mistakes of others. I just don’t waste time and energy on that aspect of the situation.
To wrap this up for today, it is very important that the relationship between both parties remains, open and honest. Either party should not be uncomfortable asking questions or looking for advise. So this is why we say; “Discover how quality and honesty work together!”