Better Communication for Builders
Tips and Strategies for the Home Building Industry
Communication is critical in every partnership, and the builder-client relationship is no exception. Effective communication can reduce stress and concerns before, during and after the building process. To keep the lines of communication open, consider the following tips.
- Cultivate good communication habits right from the outset. If communication is poor before the project begins, clients are apt to believe it will be just as poor – if not worse – during the building process.
- Make sure you and the client understand how the project will progress. Many builders provide guided walk-throughs at critical stages of the construction process, such as plumbing and electrical rough-in, drywall installation and structural framing.
- Explain your policy on phone calls, emails and informal meetings. If your schedule makes this type of communication impractical, set aside specific times when the client can expect to reach you with his or her questions and concerns.
- Clearly outline the construction process and schedule. Provide a detailed scope of work, so the client will have a strong understanding of the building process. Compose a clear schedule showing deadlines for key decisions the client will need to make, such as plumbing and lighting fixtures, paint colors and flooring materials. Explain why these deadlines are so critical and stress the importance of finalizing plans before you can place any orders.
- Explain your policy on change orders. Since few projects are completed without at least some changes along the way, the client should understand your procedures for making changes after the construction process begins.
- Warn clients about potential delays. If your client desires customized features or non-standard options, clearly explain the potential for delivery delays and offer alternatives if possible. For example, if a certain type of cabinet can take six to eight weeks to arrive, consider suggesting a comparable option that can keep the building process on schedule.
Successful builders create effective systems from communicating with customers before, during and after construction. Most develop these systems after years of experience; however, even the smoothest-running systems can benefit from a tweak here and there. However you choose to communicate, be sure you respectively address your clients’ needs and preferences to enhance their comfort level. Once you’ve established a plan of communication, be sure to stick with it to help cultivate trust and confidence throughout the building process.
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