Your reputation—it’s your single best asset. It’s what keeps your phone ringing with requests for new business. Anything that questions your reputation or the integrity of your business can be devastating.
In days gone by, a complaint to the contractor’s board, licensing agency, or Better Business Bureau were the primary resources consumers had to share a grievance about a contractor.
Boy, how times have changed! Today, an angry consumer armed with a smartphone, tablet or computer can maim a contractor’s reputation in a matter of seconds with a negative post to one or more social media sites.
Technology can be a great thing. By the same token, negative posts by an angry consumer can be a reckless form of cyber bullying when deployed as a first step, rather than first dialoguing with the contractor. The key word is dialogue. It means you need to be as interested in hearing your client’s concerns as they are in sharing them. Avoiding conflict and shutting down communication are sure ways of propelling the matter into cyberspace, which, as you unfortunately may have already learned, can be almost impossible to undo.
Instead of spending tons of energy and resources trying to undo or “bury” an angry social post, consider spending a fraction of the energy communicating with your customer to resolve the matter before things go ballistic. If you can’t solve the problem together, consider bringing in an independent third party who can offer objective analysis and suggest ways to resolve the problem.
Avoid getting into trouble in the first place by employing the following steps:
- Planning – spend plenty of time making sure that plans, specifications and contract documents are clear and that everyone is on the same page before you begin a project.
- Manage Expectations – under-commit and over-produce. If you promise the moon and the stars, you better be ready to deliver them.
- Changes – there are the invariable “while you’re at it” requests for changes. They are to be expected and can be favorable to you and your client when handled professionally. When they request a change, create a shop drawing, if necessary, a cost estimate, and a written change order for their approval. Make them aware of any possible delays to the project.
- Communication – communication doesn’t just happen. You need to work at it. Reach out to your customer often for feedback on how things are going and to see if there is anything that you can do to make their experience more manageable.
- Quality Control – point out a mistake or problem to your client before he or she notices. Then fix it! That will build their trust in you, and ADD to your glowing and growing reputation… and bottom line!