We all have those days - things are progressing normally when the phone rings. It's a client, and they have just a few changes to make. They're looking to swap out the materials you're using for their remodel at the last minute, or have a complaint about previous work. How you handle the conversation that follows can have a huge impact on whether or not they continue working with you or give you a referral.
Good client communication is a skill set all its own. If you're struggling to communicate clearly with your construction clients, try implementing the tried-and-true client communication strategies below.
The 5 Best Client Communication Tips for Contractors
#1: Set Expectations
Start off strong by setting communication expectations from the beginning of your relationship with your client. This can include defining how you'll communicate and how often so that both parties' needs are met.
What these expectations look like will change depending on the type of client you're working with. For example, they may be a worried new homeowner looking for constant updates. Or, they could be the busy owner of a rental property who just wants to know when the job is done. Make sure you discuss the type of updates the client wants, the best way to contact them, and what time you can reach out.
#2: Be Proactive
Plan to share updates and address issues before your client asks about them. This helps build trust, so that when issues arise your client trusts that you have things under control.
This type of proactive communication is especially important if your client will be on the job site. For example, if the work is being done in their home they will need to know well in advance what to expect and how the project is advancing.
#3: Be Clear
Clear communication will help you and your client stay on the same page. It's important to keep your communication simple and understandable, without omitting any necessary details. When sharing your plans with a client, keep in mind that they often won't understand the same industry jargon you do.
#4: Get It in Writing
Verbal communication, whether over the phone or in person, is easily forgotten or misremembered. One of the best ways to ensure clear client communication is to get everything in writing, especially on projects with frequent changes.
Don't take verbal requests. Have your client sign a change order, and include any impact that will have on their budget and timeline.
#5: Have a Plan for Complaints
Your reputation is your best source of new revenue. It helps build trust with your clients, earning you new referrals and long-term relationships. By planning ahead for complaints and negative reviews, you can improve your chances of addressing any issues and retaining clients. Take complaints seriously, listen to the situation, issue apologies where needed, and do what you can to rectify the situation. With that said, however, some client relationships just can't be repaired. An important part of responding to complaints is knowing when it's time to cut your customer loose.
Good client communication is a skill worth investing in. It's easy to believe that your work speaks for itself, but having a plan to reach out, communicate your value, and deal with issues can go a long way towards retaining your clients and earning new referrals from them.
Don't forget that your website is an important part of your communication strategy as well. A professional online presence can help you communicate clearly with your clients from your very first interaction with them. Get started now.