Here's the scene; you get a job, awesome. But before you know it the honeymoon is over and you're butting heads with your customer. Things are not quite going to plan and the relationship is becoming strained. This is not good for anyone, right?
So what can you do to avoid all these clashing headaches? Here are some tips from other tradies for minimising the drama, maximising the good stuff and keeping your jobs and projects on track.
- Mates rates - always aim to set expectations and if it's too hard or outside your capability just say no. At the end of the day you only have so much capacity and overloading your schedule does no one any favours.
- Last minute requests - once again communicate your schedule and set expectations, as you don't want unplanned work impacting other jobs or customers. Always make sure variations are documented immediately, re-estimate and get the new work signed off. Proceed on a no surprises basis, so everyone knows what's what.
- Get subcontractors to direct any issues to you, rather than deal with it themselves. Taking ownership of the customer relationship is what prudent operators always do.
- Always get physical sign off on the jobs you are doing and the associated quotes. With change requests being paid as additional. Keep good records of these and make sure everyone is aware of updates.
- Ask the customer for any photos/examples of what they're after. And in return share photos of the work you do or progress made. As the quote states "a picture paints a 1000 words" this refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single picture - and ain't that the truth. With smartphones in everyone's back pocket sharing a picture is easy. This can remove a lot of misinterpretation and save you time.
- Have a process set up for payment chasing - including outsourcing an expert for a certain level or after a number of requests.
- It can be the littlest things...like keeping the neighbours who may be impacted by the work you're doing informed or cleaning up the street of any dirt or debris after a digger has left. Running an organised operation can leave a positive mark with your customer, but the surrounding community too. Remember it's your signage on the job and ute parked out front. You're not nameless or blameless. So keeping up appearances can be good for a recommendation down the track or maybe even a shoulder tap for work by someone else in the community.
If you have some advice or simply want to share a customer story? Please share this below.
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