Sure, it’s important for people to manage their own expectations before going through a home remodel project. But that doesn’t mean that you are off the hook if you’re a contractor, electrician, plumber or handyman. You can be the best person at your trade and deliver on exactly what your client was looking for, but if that client isn’t happy with the process, he or she isn’t going to be happy with you. And that’s just bad for business.
But don’t despair, we’ve taken a look around the web to round up some expert opinions on how to manage a client’s expectations, which should lead to positive reviews, referrals and more jobs.
Here’s a quick roundup of what we found and a few key takeaways:
Keep your client informed, up to date
Lowe’s Canada has a pretty great article on how to better manage client’s expectations and deadlines based on interviews with different professionals.
Overall the theme of the post is to communicate with all the parties involved. That means meeting early with a client to give them an overview of the entire project (including a rough timeline). While at it, make sure to understand how involved the client would like to be. Take that information and speak with your subcontractors or other people working on the project and make sure you’re all on the same page.
When a project runs into delays or unexpected problems, clearly communicate those and the implications (both cost and delay) to the client. It stands to reason, if they’re in the know, they’re more likely to be satisfied with you.
And of course, be realistic when you talk about timelines. Let’s say your project ends up taking 10 working days to complete. If you started off saying you could get it done in 7 days, you missed the deadline. If you made a more conservative estimate and said it could take 10-14 days to complete but you finish in 10, you’ve met the expectation.
Find out what’s most important
An article on the Architectural Record’s Continuing Education Center suggests you figure out whether cost, schedule or scope of the project is most important to your client. The idea behind that suggestion is that these three core parts of a remodel project push and pull against each other.
If cost is the most important thing for your client, the scope might be limited and the schedule could be more drawn out. If time is most sensitive, things could get more expensive independent of the scope changing. And of course, if the scope of the project is most important, time and cost probably aren’t as big of a concern (think value).
In reality, your client will probably care about all three of these things, but if you can pin him or her down on which one (or even two) are most important, that will help you shape the overall project and figure out how to talk with your client.
I’m not saying it’s always going to be easy, but trying your best to meet a client’s needs and expectations is the best way to get repeat customers, referrals and positive reviews. Those things will lead to more jobs, which means more money in your pocket at the end of the day.
Bonus: Tips from Cadet’s Director of Customer Service
I kid you not, a few minutes after I finished working on the first draft of this blog post, our customer service director Jon Kaylor had a great conversation with one of our tech support reps about meeting customer’s expectations. Because I sit next to tech support, I was immediately sucked into the conversation and asked Jon to write up a few tips to share about customer service in general. Here is what he said:
When dealing with customers, it is critical that we as the professionals fully understand our customers’ expectations of us.
We have no control over outside influences that may affect those expectations, whether it be info from a friend, family or sales associate; the media or a home improvement television show or some direct personal experience. Customers bring with them their own perspective.
The challenge for us then is to be flexible enough to provide individualized solutions to meet our customers’ expectations. That means making an effort to listen to our customers and asking questions. If they’re not happy, ask them what you can do to make them happy. It seems simple, but it can make all the difference.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for your customers. Providing the same solution for all customers means that while you may exceed some customers’ expectations, you will disappoint others.