Miscommunications are a common source of disputes between construction companies and their clients. Big and small construction companies deal with miscommunications on a regular basis.

Client disputes lead to frustration, wasted money, and smaller profits. Frequent disputes can damage a contractor’s reputation and may result in a loss of business in the future. In some areas, miscommunications can even lead to a complaint against a contractor’s license.

Even though miscommunications are common, they don’t have to be. Good organization, smart business practices and proper use of technology can help construction businesses avoid these problems. In this article, we’ll look at some of the ways in which construction companies can avoid client disputes and manage their client relationships more effectively.

1. Communicate in person and avoid texts

Text messages convey no emotion, so they’re easy to misunderstand. A misplaced period, lack of a comma or even just the auto spell-check function can lead to some very strained communications between the client and your business.

Whenever possible, communicate in person. If you’re not able to communicate in person, the phone is the next best option. And if you must send a text message, make it a yes/no question. Re-read your message once before sending it to ensure you’re saying what you mean.

If you have something longer to say and you can’t say it over the phone or in person, email is a better route. The built-in spelling, grammar, and punctuation checks help to ensure that you get your message across clearly, so the client knows what you’re trying to say.

2. Write a thorough contract

Your contract is one of your most valuable tools for avoiding miscommunications. Always create a contract, even if the job is relatively small or low-cost.

This document should contain all details of the job from start to finish. It should answer questions such as:

  • When will work begin?
  • What are the payment terms?
  • Who will clean up? 
  • Who will dispose of the mess?
  • What are the client’s responsibilities before the job begins?
  • On what days and during what hours will the construction crew be at work?

Have your client initial each page to acknowledge receipt, and require them to sign at the bottom. If your state requires you to provide disclosures or informational sheets to your clients, include a line in the contract acknowledging that the client has received these documents, then have them initial the statements.

3. Always make change orders

Change orders are addendums to a contract that acknowledge changes made to the job while it’s in progress. Change orders are important for ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

When writing change orders, include information about how the changes affect the total cost of the project. Ask the client to sign before moving forward with the work. Keep copies of all change orders with the copies of the original contract. 

4. Designate a single point of contact

The easiest way to ensure that information is transmitted to and from the client in an organized way is to designate a single point of contact at your company. Provide the client with a cell phone number, office number, and email address that will make it simple for them to reach their contact at any time.

Avoid letting other employees on your team get mixed up in this chain of communication. If the client has questions or brings up something they want to discuss, instruct your employees to direct the client toward their go-to contact instead.

5. Speak clearly and avoid jargon

Industry jargon is confusing to many people. When speaking to clients, put everything in simple terms. Speak clearly and in a logical, linear fashion. Stop occasionally to ask your client if they have any questions.

Whenever possible, explain (in layman’s terms) how a project will proceed. Give step-by-step instructions that explain how and why you’ll be doing what you’ll be doing. The more you practice talking to clients who aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of your job, the better you’ll become at communicating clearly. 

6. Become a better listener

Listening skills are not easy to come by, but becoming an effective listener can help you better meet the needs of your clients. Give your client enough time to speak. When they’re done talking, repeat what you believe they said back to them, then ask follow-up questions to clarify what they need and want.

7. Manage expectations

Clients will want you to make promises about what you can do and for how much money. But overpromising can lead to disappointment and frustration.

Be realistic when talking to clirnyd, even when you’re competing for the job. While it may be tempting to go above and beyond to win the project, setting expectations too high can lead to lost money or poor customer service down the line.

8. Improve your bidding skills

Detailed, accurate bids help your company stay on track during construction jobs. Use a template bid sheet for every job, as well as construction bid software to estimate your costs and budget for each project. Keep your own database of costs for your area so your estimates are more accurate.

Your bid must include the raw costs of the job, plus overhead. Keep in mind that the costs for new tools, marketing, and advertising must be included for every job. Markups for this work may be high, but accounting for these costs enables your business to keep growing. 

Submitting accurate, detailed bids to clients also helps to ensure that they know what they’re paying for (and what they’re not). Itemize these documents whenever possible to make sure your client is fully aware of your scope of work before they sign the contract.

9. Use smart software to stay organized

Client relationship management software empowers businesses to stay organized and manage client expectations. A robust CRM can help contractors keep a centralized record of interactions and schedule reminders to follow up with clients. And with the ability to create custom fields and add multiple contacts per client, it’s an excellent tool for any contractor trying to track every detail.

Conclusion

Projects are easier to complete when the client and contractor are on the same page. Avoiding miscommunications can help contractors save money while generating new business through referrals from satisfied clients.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid miscommunications at every stage of a project, from writing a proper contract to tracking conversations to scheduling timely follow-ups. Good communication takes practice, but the more you do it, the easier it will be to maintain strong client relationships.


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