A general lack of effective communication continues to be a real challenge in the construction industry. Historically, this has been a barrier to clients engaging with our sector.
Our relationship with clients has to be built on mutual trust and excellent communication to succeed. After all, we are partners in the significant financial and emotional process that is a building project.
If your client perceives that you genuinely care for their interests and that you are trying to be available to them, it has a tremendous psychological impact. After all, there is a lot at stake.
Of course you can’t be everywhere at once, but you can set up a clear system of communication, for example, by email or predetermined site meeting times.
Even a small detail like returning a call to say that, while you may not be able talk right now, you’d like to arrange a time to call your client back, can impress and reassure.
By building communication and trust early you can better ride through the issues that inevitably come up in every project.
Today’s clients have a greater understanding of the building process than we might expect, and they also have an expectation of openness as well as fairness. Try to get honest communication out of your quietest clients — it’s in your best interests.
Here are a few things that need constant improvement for effective communication:
• Do you look forward to talking to your clients, or do you try to avoid them altogether?
• Is the conversation time an equally shared experience?
• Do you listen more than you talk?
• Do you daydream or mentally wander when the other person is talking?
• Do you interrupt to get your point across?
• Are you able to start a conversation with some personal comments of interest to your client that don’t involve the project?
• Can you connect with your client by finding out what their interests are and remembering them?
• Can you have a laugh or at least have your client smile a lot?
• Can you end a conversation on a high note so you both feel good and uplifted about what’s been said?
• Can you see complaints as a way to improve your business?
By trying to really get inside your clients’ heads you can better understand their vision and, ultimately, avoid misunderstandings during the project. I believe this is the key to ensure you get a fair profit from your projects with the least amount of issues and, hopefully, a recommendation to your clients’ friends.
As a Registered Master Builder, that you are a good builder should be a given. That you are a good person to deal with is integral to maintaining your reputation in a world where “word of mouth” is still the most important marketing tool in the box.