When we began our remodeling careers over 30 years ago, we quickly learned that doing good work wasn’t enough to guarantee a smooth project or a satisfied customer.
We learned that quality craftsmanship and top materials are essential, but of equal importance is the overall customer experience. And, materials and craftsmanship aside, communication and managing customer expectations are an absolute must in having a smooth running project and a happy customer.
Achieving this goal can be best summed-up in one word—communication. Communication doesn’t begin the day you start work on the project. It begins the moment you meet the client and should continue well after the project is complete.
Before we begin a remodeling project, we conduct a “pre-job conference,” which includes the project designer, project manager. and homeowner. We insist that all adults living in the home be present. During the meeting, we go through a checklist that includes information, which helps the homeowner understand what to expect and to make sure that our entire team is “on the same page.” It also provides the homeowner with an excellent forum to ask questions.
Items on our checklist include the following:
• Crew size, work days, and hours
• Job sign placement
• Job schedule
• Material storage location
• Debris storage location and removal methods
• Job safety, pets and children
• Home security and alarm systems
• Who to contact in an emergency
• Furniture, personals and dust protection—how to prevent “Divorce Dust”
• Potential delays which could be caused by weather or product deliveries
• Being prepared for “hiccups”—things don’t always go as planned.
• How to get through the project without tearing your hair out—allow us to do our job by focusing on the destination, not the journey
• Reassuring the client that we will do our best to get their project done on time and in budget and our goal is their complete satisfaction
There is simply no substitute for excellent communication between you, your client, and your team. Everyone needs to be on the same page to make the experience as pleasant and professional as possible.
Remember, communication doesn’t end after the job is complete. Reach out to your client from time to time so see how they are enjoying their new space and if there is anything that they need. Don’t be surprised if, during one of those calls, they ask you over—not to make a customer service repair—but to have a look at another project that they’re considering.