Oops, I Made a Mistake

Customer or client? How to know the difference.

Customer or client? How to know the difference.

Client or Customer, what is the difference?

You’re a construction contractor or service provider and you do business with other folks. What do you call them?

Recently, it was brought to my attention that I have frequently, in the past, referred to those folks for whom you provide services as customers when I should have been using the word clients. My first thought was, “What’s the diff?” When I dug deeper I learned there is a difference, and it is worth paying attention.

First, I picked up quick definitions from Dictionary.com. This is what they say about each word:

Customer – a person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron.

Client – a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc. 

Merriam-Webster offers up even more information concerning the definition of client. They say:

1 : one that is under the protection of another : dependent

2 : a person who engages the professional advice or services of another

Not so subtle

Before I began digging into the definitions I thought that any difference would be rather subtle and not worth concern. Turns out, I was wrong. Aside from the fact that the Dictionary.com definition for client requires more words than the definition for customer, there is the blaring difference found in the word professional. Tack on to that difference the word advice and you can see where this is leading.

Professional advice

In almost every instance of the dealings between you and your clients there is a factor known as professional advice. Then consider — your clients are under your protection.

The biggest difference lies between companies who sell to customers and those who serve clients. Clients buy your advice and solutions personalized to their specific needs. 

Building building relationships

Building relationships in the building business means those whom you serve are clients. If, in the past, you’ve made the same mistake I’ve been making concerning the use of the word customer as opposed to client, you may want to join me in using the proper word in its proper place. There’s a good chance you and your employees will be more likely to think in terms of providing better service when you understand the relationship angle. Besides that – your clients will appreciate it.

Want to know more about being a client of Schulte and Schulte? You can call us toll free at 866-629-7735 or get in touch here.

Job Close Out – Why it is important

What difference does it make?

Whether your job lasts a few hours, a few months, or a few years there is still always a Job Close Out to deal with before the final payout arrives. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to please a general contractor, a home owner, or a building inspector there is still the bottom line – is everything done, finished, complete?

I’m not talking about a punch list, although a punch list will sometimes be a part of the process. I’m talking about the moment when all parties involved in the construction contract or service agreement are satisfied with the finished work. Closing out the job means your work is complete and you get paid.

Both the negative experiences (change orders, nasty weather, supply delays, and the myriad of other things which pop up during the cycle of completing your project) as well as the positive experiences will fade in the memory of your customer. Yet, there is a psychological tool you can use to enhance your chances of leaving a favorable impression on them.

How does it work?

Here, let me explain. Have you ever been given a list of items to look at for a few moments, then been asked to remember all the items on the list? Chances are you’ll be able to remember the first few things as well as the last one or two items. All the words in the middle are often lost to your short term memory.

This article explains why that happens.

Understanding this psychological circumstance makes it easy to see why not only the first impression you make on your customer, but also the last impression you leave them with are both important for the well-being of your company. And, it is best to not leave Job Close Out to chance or even to a good memory.

Putting this information to use

Systemizing your procedure for closing out your projects augments your customer satisfaction rate as well as saves you time and hassle. Whether you’re a one-man-show or have a large number of employees, making a Job Close Out procedure a priority is a must for scaling your construction contracting business.

This is the first in a three-part series. In the next part we’ll look at the importance Job Close Out plays in mapping a superior customer journey, and in the final part discuss ways to make the process work for both you as well as your employees.