How to Guarantee Client Satisfaction and Improve Your Reputation

As a home builder, you know what goes into good construction. But what goes into building a good workday for you? A key part of the process is efficient, effective client communication.

Happy clients are critical to your business and a good reputation is essential for new business growth. Many of your leads probably come from word of mouth, so it’s in your best interest to ensure your clients are satisfied.

That being said, you also need work-life balance. Your days and nights shouldn’t be spent in the office going back and forth with clients. The good news is that it’s possible to keep clients happy without making yourself available 24/7.impr

1. Get proactive on client communication 

You want to keep your clients happy, but if you’re anything like us, you know that client communication can quickly spiral out of control with one-off emails and phone calls.

Our advice? Establish a regular cadence for communication. We like weekly status updates because clients know when to expect them and they address most of the questions clients will have. How much progress was made on the build this week? Is that wall sheetrocked? How does the master bathroom look? Include all of these details in your weekly progress report and say goodbye to length phone calls at odd hours.

What’s better than a weekly progress report? Real-time updates. With a construction project management app, you can give your clients immediate access to changes and progress as it’s made. You control what the client has access to, so you can keep them in the loop without compromising your security.

There may be emergencies when you need to respond quickly. In these instances, like when a customer notices a mistake at the site, time matters. Try to respond within the hour. Lack of communication is a leading cause of poor customer experience, and 78% of customers have bailed on an intended transaction because of a poor experience (Source: GetFeedback).

2. Surprise and delight clients

Happy clients are crucial to your reputation as a builder. Wondering how to leave clients with a smile? Surprising and delighting your clients includes things both big and small. The key is to put yourself in their position and treat them as you would want to be treated.

It can be as simple as giving your clients access to photos for selections. Let your clients visualize what their selections look like in a Pinterest-style photo board. Add a personal touch and give them input throughout the process. Learn about their needs and reflect that understanding back to them throughout the process. Show them ways to maximize their budgets and the value of their investments. Clients appreciate the opportunity to be heard and to make the home a reflection of themselves. The last thing they want is to be sidelined in a process that results in a cookie cutter design.

Or it could be something as big as holding a well-executed site visit that leaves your client feeling satisfied with the progress of the build and excited to share your great work with their network.

3. Be decisive and authoritative

Clients choose home builders and remodelers not just for the particular homes they build or even the specific model they have chosen, but also for the expertise the sales staff, project managers, and builders bring to the table. They want to know the people they’ve chosen to work with are experts and in control of the process. Assure them that they are in good hands by answering their questions thoughtfully. Anticipate questions ahead of time so that you don’t get caught off-guard.

One of the fastest ways to hurt your credibility is to over-promise and under-deliver. Understand the things that can extend timeframes so that you don’t get caught making promises you can’t keep. Be extremely detail-oriented, too. You don’t want to miss a change order for a kitchen island or wind up footing the cost for a jetted tub because you misunderstood the customer’s intentions.

Now that social media gives so much voice to the consumer, it’s really important that you don’t commit any gaffes that could cost your company business. If you do make a mistake, however, don’t try to hide it. Be clear and transparent.

Up to 70% of unhappy customers transform into loyal customers if the mistake has been fixed exceeding their expectations (Source: Constant Contact). And 68% of customers leave brands because they are upset with the treatment they have received (Source: MyFeelBack). Even worse, 48% of customers who had a negative experience told 10 or more others (Source: InsightSquared). Getting ahead of a bad situation can end up paying dividends in the long run.

4. Stay ahead of the curve on change orders

Change orders shouldn’t cause you or your clients grief. They’re inevitable and more importantly, if they’re well-executed, they can be a great way to increase client satisfaction and your profit margins.

One of the best ways to streamline your change order process and reduce the possibility for mistakes is with digital change orders. Now, clients can approve change orders instantly, from anywhere. Plus, when change orders are approved, selections are automatically updated in your construction project management software. This keeps all trades updated on what the client wants and results in less double entry and more accuracy for you.

5. Keep in contact after the sale

Grow your business organically through referrals. To do this, you’ve got to build stellar quality homes, honor warranties, and keep in communication with your past customers. Make them feel important and valued. Engage with them through multiple channels, including social media. Let them know that their satisfaction matters to you with periodic calls, mailers, and birthday messages.

What’s the missing link in your change order process?

As a home builder, you’re used to a lot of moving parts. Even so, it’s still a challenge to execute change orders on the fly. Download our tip sheet for custom home builders and remodelers for tips on effectively managing change orders.  

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How to Set Proper Expectations with Clients

Change orders shouldn’t be the bane of your existence as a builder, but they often are. A single change order that falls through the cracks or one misunderstanding with a client could end up costing you. In the custom home building and remodeling space, you could be dealing with tens of thousands of dollars in lost profits.

It’s inevitable, change orders are going to happen. But the good news is they don’t have to be bad experiences. Instead of cursing every time a change order comes in, relax and set yourself up to save time and money while boosting your reputation as the builder who is easy to work with.

Here are six pro tips from experts in the industry who have been managing change orders for decades:

1. Bad News Does Not Get Easier with Time

Your clients probably dislike change orders almost as much as you. In their minds, it means their dream home just got more expensive. Even though you don’t relish the thought of having a tough conversation about money with your client, putting it off will only make things worse.

If your change order is the result of unexpected circumstances, weather-related costs, or something simply out of your control, don’t avoid it. Confirm the project scope, document it thoroughly, and present it to your client quickly. Don’t fear the change order. Deal with it.

2. Be Ready at Any Given Moment

So your client just changed the color of the bathroom tiles from beige to sand. Don’t make the mistake of mentally logging this away for later, no matter how confident you are in your ability to recall the smallest details. Get it in writing immediately while the conversation is still fresh!

If you’re keeping track of details for your job in anything that you can’t keep within arm’s length at any given time (so, basically, if it’s not your phone or tablet) you’re likely to miss things or have things fall through the cracks. At any given moment, you should be ready to grab your phone and punch in new information immediately.

3. Get a Signature

By recording information while the client is still in front of you, you can avoid that sticky and potentially expensive situation when the client says, “I said tan, not sand!” Don’t put yourself in a situation where it’s your word versus your client’s word. Get a signature before you let the conversation end.

If they see a progress photo and want to make a change remotely, no problem. You can issue a change order from a construction management app and get your client to sign off electronically. This makes everything black and white, eliminating any gray area that could potentially harm your relationship with your client or even damage your reputation.

4. Adjust on the Go

Now that the change order has been made, any number of details could need adjusting. If you’re keeping track of schedules, budget, delivery dates, and installations in a notebook, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Project management software is designed to accelerate the momentum of your job, so a change order doesn’t end up monopolizing your time.

Let the software do the adjusting for you. It locks in your change order, adjusts the budget and schedule automatically, and gives you the ability to notify everyone who will be affected by this change with the touch of a button.

5. Communicate Quickly

Your whole crew needs access to the most up-to-date info for your job, and you need to be able to confirm that they’ve seen and understood the change. With a construction project management solution, automated notifications and confirmations make sure you don’t get stuck on the phone all day calling eight different people to tell them the same thing.

With the right software you can save yourself half a day of adjusting and calling around, and you be confident that the message has reached all the right people with simple confirmations from the recipient.

6. Make Sure You Have the Right Tools

Even seasoned builders fall into bad habits because they’re busy. Doing it the right way takes time, but it doesn’t have to take that long. Having the right tools to get the job done quickly and effectively is critical.

Technology can be a game-changer, especially when it’s designed for your industry by builders who understand your everyday needs. A construction project management app can save you from messy situations, forgetting small but important details, and spending all your time repeating simple updates to your team.

You can cross all these best practices off your list with construction project management software. Once you have a tool in place, you can save yourself countless hours of adjustments, phone calls, and headaches.

We put together our Custom Builder’s Toolkit to help you handle situations just like this. Download our free tip sheet on effective change order management to find out how a construction project management app can simplify change orders, so you no longer have to worry when they inevitably come in.

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CPM Establishes a System for Clear Communication and a Centralized, Detailed Schedule

Every day spent on a home building site is hectic. Part of your job as a builder is preparing for the unexpected and having the flexibility to adapt to changes while keeping projects on track. While it’s a testament to your skill as a custom builder to navigate changes and mishaps, so is eliminating surprises altogether. Avoiding surprises will ensure that you stay on schedule and on budget to maximize your profitability on each project.

Missed deadlines, slow contractors, materials arriving behind schedule, and a lack of clear processes all lead to breakdowns in communication and completion delays. Sound familiar? As you know, these are just a few of the many daily issues that can throw home building projects off schedule.

Poor scheduling stems from a combination of factors: relying on memory to meet deadlines, not promptly informing impacted parties of a schedule change, and having to manually follow up with subcontractors to confirm they can perform the scheduled work when timelines are adjusted. 

The root of all building breakdowns – poor communication

Poor communication is for a common cause of disorganization and inefficiency. And it’s not just on you – everyone involved can be responsible for delays and misunderstandings. It could be a subcontractor who doesn’t communicate finished tasks, a client who doesn’t remember what they requested, or a project manager without a centralized project management system for effectively managing people and tasks.

As a result, money gets lost, the pace of the project slows down, and deadlines are missed. An influx of schedule changes can cause multiple ripples downstream, resulting in confusion, finger-pointing, and delays. Ultimately, this disorganization could hurt your reputation and affect your relationships with partners, vendors, and customers. 

Construction project management is the foundation for solid project planning and execution

Surprises are part of our industry, but establishing a proven process with a construction project management (CPM) solution goes a long way. CPM software designed for homebuilders and remodelers standardizes industry best practices for efficiency as part of your project management process. It automatically sends alerts to each contributor notifying them of any decisions or actions that affect their work, and triggers the next steps in the process. In doing so, it guarantees effective communication and accountability.

A centralized scheduling solution optimizes communication and efficiency 

A CPM solution centralizes the schedule details and all the project details each member of your team, subcontractor, or client needs in one database.. If a rainy day, a late  permit, or missing materials causes delays, all relevant resources are notified and the project is adjusted to ensure final quality delivery, even if that means extending the schedule by a few days. An always up-to-date schedule keeps you from wasting time putting out fires and manually communicating last-minute adjustments.

Progress reports keep clients in the loop and up to date on their action items

Creating a weekly report will help keep clients up to speed with project status and reduce the need for time-consuming status calls. Weekly reports should include current status of project, customer financials, latest project pictures, and approved change orders or those that still require a signature.

Creating these weekly reports on a digital platform makes distribution and documenting all items much easier for both your company and your client. Digital documentation also increases transparency, so your team knows what they’re responsible for.

There are countless other ways that CPM software benefits custom builders and remodelers. By giving you more time back in your day, you can be more efficient. This mean focusing more on quality control, following up on delegated tasks, and avoiding mishaps like a client showing up to a site where no one is working.

With a central hub for communication, your crew can post questions and comments, and view responses in real-time. Disagreements or misunderstandings can be quickly resolved through group communication using digital tools. Leveraging technology allows home builders and remodelers to centralize communication across an entire project, ensuring everyone is always on the same page.

With these tools and features at your disposal, you can finish projects on time and under budget, and exceed client expectations. You’llbe well prepared to tackle the common problems that builders face on a daily basis.

Communication is critical to a successful project. Get more tips and best practices for increasing transparency and accountability across your business. Find out how technology can help you communicate better with our ebook, How to Improve Communication During Custom Projects.

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When you’re building a home, the list of options your client is considering can get overwhelming. Whether they’re choosing flooring, trim, or the perfect toilet and sink, these selections are important to them, but they also mean a lot of work for you.

Giving your clients a place to digitally view their options is a great way to help clients envision their new home. But with so many platforms available today, how do you know which platform is worth investing in? Look for these three features.

1. Easy Interface

With so many different options available today, your platform needs to skillfully manage and organize selections so they’re accessible to the client, designer, and construction team. We recommend a user friendly interface so your clients can easily compare the looks of different options.

2. Single Platform and Point of Contact

The interface you choose should allow your client to approve and reject selections online. Your clients will be able to choose exactly what they want, and everyone will be kept up to date in one platform. No more waiting around to hear back about approval. Your team will receive updates in real-time, so they can get started on their work right away.

You need to be working within a single platform dedicated to your industry. This will help you get your selections approved in a timely manner and keep track of changes effortlessly. By keeping all project selections organized online where they’re available and updated at all times, you’ll eliminate the need for paperwork and duplication on multiple platforms.

The bottom line? Interfaces without this capability can cause delays in the building process, push back your completion date, leave room for error, and cost you money.

3. Easy Change Orders

During your build, changes are going to arise, which means selections have the potential to change. With a software that has integrated selections and change orders, you’ll be able to simply require a change order to be approved when a new selection is made.

The best part? The selection and change order can be approved online. No more paperwork or waiting on your client. This allows you to spend less time following up and more time tackling tasks at the top of your to-do list.

See how your business can benefit from best-in-class construction management software. Schedule a demo today.