How many times have you had this conversation with a client:
“But we talked about wanting to _____ . I expected it was included!” or “That’s the not the right color! We told the designer we wanted to change it to ____ months ago!”It’s a no win situation, and it happens constantly in the home building and remodeling business. Good news: there's a sure-fire way to avoid 99% of these messy situations!
Here are 5 steps to safeguard yourself in client communication.
1. Document EVERYTHING From The Start
Plain and simple, you cannot build from conversations with your clients. After a verbal agreement has been made, the conversation isn't over.
Make sure you document everything that was decided and agreed upon before the client walks away.
We all know too well just how differently two individuals can recall the same conversation. That is why it is important not to let time pass before writing down every last detail that has been agreed upon. Which brings up our next step...
2. Demand Written Change Orders
Change orders are an innevitable part of the construction or remodeling process. The longer the project, the more ready you need to be to receive change orders.
Each and every change order is like a stone being dropped into a pond: it sends ripples radiating out through the rest of the project requiring adjustments in planning, scheduling, deliveries, and on and on.
No matter how small the change order, no matter how seemingly simple, it's vital that you get it in writing, and make that info accessible to everyone on the project immediately.
3. Get Signatures
Each decision, every change order, is a mini contract within your larger project. No contract is complete without a signature.
Consider your clients signature on a change order as a green light. Without it, you can't go anywhere.
Both you and your client will feel confident once the agreed upon change is documented, written out in detail, and literally signed-off by the client.
4. Make Sure Documents Are Organized and Accessible
Documentation can be a serious time saver, or a serious time eater if you or your team can't find what they are looking for!
Be sure that all of your documents, including detailed agreements and signatures, can be accessed quickly whether you're at your desk or on the job site.
A generation ago you would have had to put a complete halt on your productivity to track down that one specific document stored away in a file drawer back at the office. Now, with our best friend technology, we can access files from anywhere, and from anyone, immediately.
The only way to maintain this process in the long run is to keep your resources exactingly organized, and your team effortlessly connected.
And that requires the right tools.
5. Integrate All Your Tools
All of this can be done using any number of existing tools: everything from Excel, to Dropbox or Google Drive, to texts and phone calls, to good old paper and pen.
Whatever you use, it is vital to have a system in place for keeping all of these tools organized, responsive to one another, and accessible to your whole crew.
BuildTools was developed to bring you, your team and your clients together on one platform for 100% of your project's needs.
BuildTools Founder and CEO Sven Gustafson is a 4th generation custom home builder with a software development background. Sven created BuildTools to help his company, Stonewood LLC, have a "connection point" for every piece of the building process.
His network of fellow custom home builders encouraged Sven to make this product available to the entire industry, because it revolutionized their own projects and solved so many common problems.
BuildTools provides a framework that enables builders and remodelers to accomplish all of the above steps using one tool.
When communicating with your client, a change made to one item will automatically update your project's schedule, budget, tasks and communication.
Create accountability on every front within your company. Fewer mistakes will occur. Profitability will increase, guaranteed.