Let’s be honest. Clients who are in the process of remodeling or building a new home can be difficult. Sometimes they’re overly confident, other times too indecisive. Too demanding, too cautious. And on top of all that, each client typically wants to believe they’re your one and only.
If you own a home construction business, you know that managing clients requires a constant ebb and flow of give and take—and that makes for a lot of shifting ground, which all too often sets up a domino effect of murky communication that falls toward failed goals and seriously delayed or abandoned home building projects.
But what if you could get all those shifting sands between you and your clients to settle, so that you’re both approaching goals from a more stable common ground? Clearing the communication clutter with your home construction clients sets a solid foundation for you both. Here are 4 best practices that any home business owner can focus on to make client engagement not only more successful, but more enjoyable as well.
Show that you’ve listened—really listened.
Clients don’t always know exactly what they want or need, but they’ve come to you because they have faith that you’ll help them determine that. No matter what they’re seeking—a bathroom remodel or a new dream home design—your clients have a vision and are trusting you by sharing it.
Listen closely and then recap what the client actually said. For example, “I heard that you want to remodel your home so that the master bedroom suite is on the first floor, specifically so you don’t have to navigate stairs when you get older. Is that right?” That might lead to more honest conversation about health concerns, which may prompt compassionate questions about whether or not handicap accessibility should be a factor, and if other first floor areas of the house, such as the kitchen, need to be evaluated as well.
Focus on the direction, not the nitty-gritty details.
This practice falls in line with listening well. To continue with the master suite remodel example, initial conversations will focus on why the client wants a first floor suite and specifically how they want it to feel. Don’t get mired in the muck with details about the exact size nails you’ll use. Show the client that you understand their ultimate goal and ask questions that drive that vision into detailed clarity for you both.
Take the time to untangle frustrations before they get too big.
If the client seems to be back-peddling or making contradictory decisions to matters you’d previously agreed on, ask direct questions to find out why. There may be all sorts of reasons not even related to how you’re performing—budget changes, a family member’s opposing opinion, or personal fears. Try pointing out calmly why certain directives conflict with your previous agreed upon design plans, and ask if they can help you understand why. Even if it’s not something you’ve done wrong, the opposition is keeping you both from moving forward and you need to find a solution before the project crumbles.
Schedule—and keep—regular check ins.
It’s understandable to think you can wait to update a client once a measurable plateau has been reached, or when you’re ready for their next stage of input. But the communication flow goes so much more smoothly when you have regularly scheduled check ins, such as every Wednesday, to go over what was discussed last week, what’s been done since then, and what’s expected to be done before next week’s check in. And be transparent in any shortcomings. Clients are human and are much more forgiving if you’re honest, but typically not so tolerant if they’re mislead that all’s progressing without a hitch.
You don’t have to operate under the motto of “the client’s always right,” because in truth, the client is coming to you because they’re in search of collaboration. Sometimes it just takes a little more intentional effort to keep the communication clutter to a minimum, but when that happens the pathway to a successful home project completion is sweeter for everyone involved.