If your approach to estimating jobs and communicating with potential customers is typically a tangled, unorganized, mess, listen up. For contractors in the know, the days of rushing from one job site to the next, estimating by the seat of their pants and scribbling proposals on the back of a napkin are a thing of the past.
Following these five steps will not only give you more peace of mind and confidence in your estimation and bidding process but will help you win more business at higher margins!
Select one point of contact for both parties
There's nothing worse than too many cooks in the kitchen. More than one decision-maker for each party can cause problems, which is why the first step toward better communication is to establish one point of contact for each party - no exceptions! Your client should know that if they have a question, comment or concern throughout the project, they know who to contact.
More importantly, that point of contact has to be available to answer their call at any time! Likewise, you and your team should have one primary contact to work with who is comfortable communicating final renovation and construction decisions, even if those decisions are worked out through consensus behind the scenes.
Avoid using construction buzz-words during conversations
You’re the expert on all things construction and home renovation. You live on the job site and eat, sleep and breathe construction each and every day. Unfortunately your customers don't, and to them, words like “flange” and “T-channel” sound like another language entirely.
To avoid unnecessary misunderstandings, get into the habit of avoiding even the most basic construction terminology. It may feel like you’re dumbing down the conversation, but your client will feel more confident with you and the project if they understand what you’re saying from the start.
Establish credibility with clients early in the process
Credibility and trust are perhaps the most critical contributor to whether or not you'll win a job, and at what margins. If a potential customer doesn't see you as dependable, credible or organized, they will certainly be much less willing to open their wallets for you! Establish your credibility early in the process, and continue to reinforce it throughout the job cycle. Some tips include:
- Explaining past experiences and similar projects you've worked on during your first conversation with the client.
- Showing the customer how you came to your number when reviewing your bid. Project confidence in the underpinning measurements.
- Continually displaying your professionalism with the customer. Repeat business is the best business.
Taking your customer "behind the scenes" and showing them how you arrived at your decisions can be extremely helpful to closing a sale and insulating yourself from downward price pressure!
Utilize modern technology to help clients envision their renovation
In today’s technology-filled world, it probably comes as no surprise that there are many tools you can utilize on the job site to help improve efficiency, streamline processes and ultimately grow your business.
By utilizing modern technology such as HOVER, you can show clients what new siding and windows will actually look like on their home. These types of design tools, along with the detailed measurements that HOVER provides, can go a long way in differentiating you from the competition.
Provide regular client updates throughout the project
Providing a steady drumbeat of project updates is one of the most important – and often overlooked – pieces of the communication puzzle. Keep in mind that every customer is different: while some prefer hour-by-hour updates, others would rather wait until the end of each day for an update. However, very few like to go longer than 24 hours between updates.
In initial conversations with your client, make sure to ask his or her preferred method of contact (call, email, text), along with the best times to connect, and stick to the schedule, even if it feels like too much. Remember: over-communicating is better than under-communicating.
Nirvana is at hand! Effective communication with both current customers and potential clients can mean the difference between winning the job and being told they're "going in a different direction." Simply following these five steps can go a long way in establishing better communication with your customers. And happy customers breed more business.