Strategy is involved when you determine what to do and what not to do when dealing with client requests. Be sure all your employees and subcontractors know what the strategy is and how to deal with the various circumstances.
In my last post I presented information concerning how to deal with the inevitable change orders which pop up during construction.
This time let’s look at when a client’s request for additional service or a change in production, materials, or labor should be carried out as soon as possible with no need for the process involved in change orders. You can’t always hang the moon and the stars for your clients, but you can give them the little extras that will help them remember you and your team.
Make it all about the client
Have you been burned by a client who is “ever needy,” who constantly asks for things outside the scope of work as presented in the contract, who seems hell-bent to make sure they get more than they’re paying for? Yeah, we’ve all experienced that sort of bad behavior. (Meaning that is another reason to be sure you prequalify your clients.)
Chances are, those people are few and far between. Yet, the natural tendency to protect ourselves and our businesses against that sort of terrible behavior may get in the way of “being there” for the clients who are simply relying on us to provide what they need at a reasonable price and within a reasonable timeframe.
Teach your employees and subcontractors that whenever possible, meaning when the request is financially and logistically feasible, to simply comply.
3 ways to handle “above and beyond” requests
We’ll use an entry door installation as our jumping off point for all the examples below.
Your employee has just finished hanging a new entrance door and the client asks if she will also attach the door knocker the client picked up on his way home from work. No, it isn’t in the contract. Yet, it is a simple matter to use the tools already at hand to quickly install the new door knocker.
Offer resources for what you can’t provide
Your subcontractor has just finished hanging a new entrance door and the client asks if he will also install a hard-wired door bell the client ordered and has on hand. Your subcontractor doesn’t have a clue about electrical wiring. Your subcontractor, as well as your employees, should have a list of preferred contractors and service providers on hand to provide to the client.
Explain why a change order will be necessary
Your employee has just finished hanging a new entrance door and your client asks if he will change the door out for one seen online which incorporates better security measures than the one which was just installed. Your team should be trained concerning how to politely inform your client a change order will be necessary.
Think beyond the simplicity of the task
Let’s go back to the second of the three ways to handle the request. Remember, your client has just requested that a hard-wired door bell be installed. Now, let’s imagine your subcontractor or your employee does have the skill required for the task. A few other considerations now come into play. How long will it take? Is the new door bell replacing an old one or is the wiring going to have to be installed also? Has the client exhibited a tendency to request more and more without regard to the original contract?
Your client is your first consideration
Delivering more than your client expects has long term benefits for your construction business. Good-will is worth the tangible (read monetary) as well as the intangible gain garnered by providing it.
The basic gain is the feeling engendered in being able to help another person. Then there are a few other considerations concerning what is to be gained when you and your crew go out of the way to provide truly exceptional service – by doing what you don’t have to do. Gaining word-of-mouth recommendations is (or should be) your number one marketing tool. Want your present clients to tell your future clients how wonderful your construction business is? Give them every reason to do so.
This is huge! There is no better time to ask for a testimonial or referral than when you or your team has given more than was contracted for.
Want to know more about assuring that your team is on the same page you’re on when it comes to responses concerning above and beyond requests? Be sure to check back next time, I’ll discuss implementing a “give it away” policy.
In the meantime, you can reach our construction accounting specialized team here or by calling 866-629-7735.