General contractors are special people with exceptionally hard jobs. They also run into a lot of unhappy customers due to the nature of the job. Unhappy customers are almost inevitable when you think about what the customer wants from a general contractor. There are good reasons why some have trouble attracting high-paying clients. One reason is potentially that what clients expect is completely unreasonable.
Contractors are not superheroes with extraordinary powers. They cannot foretell the future. They cannot control the weather. They can’t even know what is behind the wall they are about to knock down to make space for the addition. It could be mold. That will require them to do further testing. Guess what: Abatement is not cheap. Over the budget, we go. And under the bus goes the general contractor. As a contractor, you will spend less time dealing with unhappy customers by knowing how to meet the following expectations:
To Hear Good Things About You
Customers will start out on a trust basis if they hear good things about you from credible sources. They need to see good things about you when they read reviews for general contractors. They will most certainly be scouring the major review sites. They will see plenty of good reviews about other contractors. To have a hope of competing, you need a minimum of 3 5-star reviews. The more, the better.
If they only hire you from an ad or directory listing, they are not starting with a trust relationship. They might have only chosen you for price or convenience factor. These things do not inspire trust. No one really trusts the lowest bidder to do quality work. And if you were available for a big job right away, there is probably a reason you are not very busy. At the first sign of trouble, they withdraw the benefit of the doubt. To get on better footing with your client, start with a trust relationship created by positive reviews from happy customers.
To Take All Forms of Payment
Ecommerce has undergone a few changes since COVID. The most obvious change is that it is in higher demand than ever before. Companies are having to be open to different business models and payment strategies. Companies that don’t take all forms of payment are going to suffer the most. Paper money like cash and checks are viewed with suspicion because of the virus. You have to welcome contactless forms of payment even as a general contractor. A good percentage of young adults needing contract work don’t carry cash and couldn’t locate a checkbook if their lives depended on it. Make sure you aren’t leaving money on the table.
To Stay in Touch and Communicate Clearly About the Process
One of the biggest mistakes contractors make is failure to communicate to the client. Communication is everything and can turn sticky situations into smooth ones. People know that unexpected things happen. When everything is running according to schedule and there is nothing to report, communicate that. When unexpected weather could potentially cause a delay, communicate that. When a supplier can’t deliver and a higher price will need to be charged for parts, communicate that. Communicate everything.
People will maintain their trust relationship with you as long as you are keeping them in the loop. They are already worried. Not hearing from you and not being able to reach you only heightens their fears. Those fears can quickly turn to disappointment, then anger, then bad reviews.
Before you accept the project, you should clearly communicate the kinds of unknowns that can cause delays and budget overflows. They don’t know what to expect. You do. Let them know in advance where the issues could be hiding and they won’t be surprised if things go south.
Being a general contractor is hard and consumer expectations are sometimes unreasonable. But they are not always unreasonable. You can meet most of the consumer expectations by having positive reviews, by taking all forms of payment, and by communicating clearly and often about everything. When you start with a trust relationship, it is a lot easier to move through difficult situations by doing those things that maintain that trust.