In construction, a healthy and strong working relationship between the client and the contractor is vital in ensuring a successful project. While project management tools guide management in supervising the project, contractors also need to provide a good connection with their clients. On the same note, the best construction management software can be of great help to managers and contractors alike. Pair that with a highly capable and skilled crew, the construction project will progress smoothly and efficiently.
Essentially, the client is the one for whom the project is done, which they have to oversee. So, their plans and ideas will ultimately be followed. However, they will still need contractors with good subcontractor scheduling software to carry out the plans, especially for clients who lack construction expertise. The principal designer and principal contractor’s job is to lend their knowledge and experience to support the client with their professional input. A good working relationship and a stable builder schedule, client, contractor, and crew can work efficiently together.
Importance of A Good Client Relationship
For a successful project
A great professional relationship is built on trust and will lead to a successful building project. They will both be able to voice out their concerns and effectively communicate their ideas and opinions. With the help of a construction schedule software, contractors will execute the client’s vision skillfully.
As the client initiated the project, they are also responsible for overseeing the process and working closely with contractors and project managers.
For exposure and expansion
Naturally, a project’s success will not be determined until after the project is done, sometimes even longer. Aspects such as improving plant efficiency by using automation technology will not be measured until the project is complete. This means that the building structure will speak on behalf of contractors, engineers, architects, and workers to determine whether they provided quality services. Consequently, success will also significantly affect the number of future projects to come.
However, the client is compelling in terms of a company’s or contractor’s future construction. In a nutshell, a client’s experience will gain publicity that mold how the public sees the project, even if it is not available yet. By “word of mouth,” a client’s experience can either lead to more potential projects or lose prospective clients.
So, it is vital to keep the client happy, essentially. Keeping them satisfied is almost a guarantee that the project and the people involved will be seen in a positive light.
Common Challenges with Working with Clients
Communication is a crucial element in construction. For a managerial position, it’s vital in delegating and dispersing information; for the crew, it’s how they let their concerns and ideas be heard. But communication goes beyond the management and crew; it’s essential to have open communication with clients, too.
More often than not, miscommunication is the source of disputes and issues between construction companies and their clients. Then, that simple misunderstanding could lead to more substantial problems such as wasted time and money, a failed project, or even damage to the contractor’s reputation.
2. Unable to see eye to eye
A contractor’s job is to marry the client’s vision with the appropriate methods and techniques to produce a safe and stable structure. Unfortunately, there will be times when what the contractor delivers does not meet the client’s expectations.
There are many reasons why this happens. Most times, it circles back to lack of or poor communication. When the contractor does not ask the right questions, things may be unclear. Alternatively, the client may be unreasonable and expects the impossible.
3. An angry client
Angry clients are some of the most difficult ones to work with. They may be unreasonable when things don’t go their way. But there are also times when the contractor is at fault when they messed up.
When anger gets between the project, progress may be put on pause until both parties will agree on something. Until then, time, money, and resources will be wasted.
4. Absent clients
It can be frustrating to have clients disappear midway through the project or be flaky from the start. Without their input, contractors are left to make decisions on their own that might make the client angry in the end. In another scenario, absent clients will cost the project a lot of wasted time.
5. Saying “No”
Contractors want the clients to trust them and don’t want to be put in a bad light. Because of this, they’ll tend to overpromise and say “yes” to all client demands. Sadly, when the time comes to show the client the progress, they might end up showing them nothing, a poor outcome, or something significantly different from what was initially talked about. This may be because of an unrealistic timeline set or insufficient resources. Either way, they might have an angry client on their hands.
6. Insufficient project budget
It’s part of the process to inform the client of the contractor’s bill rate. Knowing that, they might submit a proposed project budget that is too low, given their demands. When it comes to this, it’s best not to accept the project if compensation is not fair.
Tips for Building a Strong Client Relationship
There has been a clear emphasis in this article on communication between client and contractor. Because of its vital role in construction, it should be a priority.
There several ways to improve upon it and prevent miscommunication problems. For one, it would be better for contractor and client to avoid texts and discuss matters in person. That way, they have a better avenue for questions and proper explanations. Contractors should also avoid industry jargon and use simple terms when talking to the client, especially if they are not from the field.
In addition to that, having a designated single point of contact can minimize confusion. Giving the client contact details like a phone number or email will ensure that that is the only one to contact.
Lastly, contractors should also establish expectations from the get-go. One way to be sure they are on the same page is to have a list of questions to ask the client that will clearly state what they want and expect. It also helps to consult and update the client regularly. Ask them to weigh in on every decision while also having your own input and clearing things up along the way.
2. Step up as the expert
The foundation of any good relationship is trust. Contractors can do this by proving their credibility as the expert. Clients will then feel comfortable knowing that they have put their project in capable hands. This mainly involves delivering what was expected and sometimes exceeding those expectations.
On the same note, contractors earn their client’s trust by being a reliable source of information and being there to answer any question thrown at them.
Having the client’s full trust and minimize future issues and disputes.
3. Be transparent
Changes and delays are inevitable in construction projects. These events will take a toll on the budget and resources. But it’s essential to let the client in on everything happening, including all decisions, issues, delays, and additional costs. Surprising them in the end with a larger invoice than what was initially agreed upon will not only ruin the relationship but could also damage the company’s reputation and credibility.
4. Set realistic expectations, then deliver
Over-promising will cause more trouble then it’s worth. It’s better to set realistic expectations than agreeing to outrageous requests and fall short.
A better way to strengthen the relationship and trust is to exceed those expectations. From the beginning, explicitly discuss what can and can’t be done with the client– this will give them an idea of what they can request. It’s crucial to be clear with agreements to avoid future disputes. Then, deliver on what was discussed but go above and beyond.
5. Create accountability
A relationship is a two-way street and both parties should hold each other accountable; so, it’s perfectly acceptable to demand expectations from the client. Furthermore, they should also hold up their end and deliver what was asked of them.
From the beginning, as with contractor expectations, set clear goals for the client, as well. Some elements to discuss might include deadlines they need to meet, when to check in on the site, or what additional resources they may offer.
6. Treat them as a person.
Contractor-client relationships are real of a professional nature, but mutual kindness, respect, and understanding must be a part of it, like any other relationship. Developing a personal connection can start by acknowledging them as a person more than a paycheck at showing common courtesy.
This bond can be formed even by the simplest of things, but the approach will depend on who the client is. For example, if they are a parent, ask them how their children are doing; if they are a fan of a certain personality, a fun tidbit or story about that celebrity can be a good bonding point between them.
Be that as it may, it’s essential to remember professional boundaries. Be friendly but try not to get too personal. The client might misinterpret these actions as offensive or inappropriate.