Every residential construction business faces difficult clients at some point. Beyond causing stress and frustration, demanding clients can cause profit loss, service delays and reputation damage. Since it’s not always possible to avoid tough clients, it’s best to develop strategies to manage them more effectively. Here are some tips for dealing with your toughest customers.
The know-it-all: Some clients have know-it-all attitudes and unrealistic expectations that cause them to undervalue your expertise. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lack of trust which can ultimately cause the client to refuse payment or threaten legal action. While you may feel as though you are in the right, it’s generally best to pacify the client and then move on to your next project. The Better Business Bureau offers recommendations on how to deal with angry customers. Review these tips and try to leave your emotions out of the equation.
Anxious clients: Since 25 percent of all newly built homes eventually suffer some form of structural distress, certain buyers are especially wary of new construction. Frightened by recent news about failing foundations, these buyers are often especially demanding. Builders can alleviate common fears by adding structural warranties that protect against potential repair costs that might occur after a builders warranty expires. This added warranty protection helps to enhance a client’s confidence in the reliability and quality of a builder’s work.
Extreme hagglers: Some clients seem to regard haggling as a sport, attempting to negotiate over the smallest items or expecting you to throw in upgrades and non-scoped work for free. You can combat this by writing detailed contracts, estimates and pay schedules, so clients will know what to expect. You can also ward off extreme haggling by setting a discount policy, in which you offer a percentage or dollar amount off the total and refuse to participate in lengthy negotiations over line items. This is a great way to establish a boundary right from the outset.
Dishonest clients: When clients insist on side-stepping a particular permit or code requirement to cut costs or speed up construction, be especially wary. First, try to educate them about the financial and legal ramifications of skipping permits. If that doesn’t work, it’s best to walk away. When you cut the slightest corners, you put your reputation at risk. You can also face substantial fines for failing to get necessary permits. You could even lose your ability to do business in a specific community or state.
Indecisive clients: Because they aren’t exactly sure what they want, these types of clients can’t provide precise enough feedback to help you build a home they love. When clients are unable to communicate their requirements and desires, it’s almost impossible to please them. Because of this, it’s quite common for indecisive clients to evolve into dissatisfied clients, who can hurt your reputation. With these types of clients, you really need to ramp up communication. Make yourself available and keep detailed records of conversations, so you can demonstrate that you followed the client’s instructions, even if they don’t accurately remember the conversation.