Saturday, May 28, 2011

The education of home owners for the betterment of all parties!

Having had to deal with all kinds of different people as clients in the construction industry you start to develop a process that helps build the relationship between the client and the contractor. The easiest way to achieve this is to educate the client. This means that you are giving away a lot of trade secrets, but if you do your job right then they will be your client for life and it wouldn’t matter.
By educating your client you can help dispel any misconceptions that they may have of the construction industry. There are a lot of people who view the construction industry with a sceptical eye and for good reason. There are a lot of rough and shady people in the construction industry and allowing these people to build you a home or come in to your existing home and do a renovation can be a scary thing. Especially when you don’t know the person, or the people that work for him.
When we do a project we try to get the homeowner involved as much as possible. This doesn’t mean that I want my clients on site swinging hammers, but it does mean that I’m going to want them on site at least two times a month if they are building a new home or doing a renovation. I want them on site with either the operations manager or the project supervisor. I do not want them wondering around on their own. This is not because where trying to hide something, it’s has a lot to do with safety and education. Construction sites are a dangerous place for a person that doesn’t understand what is going on. We take safety measures to ensure the law is followed and that all people are working in a safe environment, but if the clients show up when there is work going on then they may stand in an area that has been deemed as off limits and not even know it. On a residential construction site it is not possible to protect people from EVERYTHING. If the clients show up and the trusses are being installed, then the swing of the truss by the crane could cover the whole site. All the workers know this and take precautions and were safety gear.  They also make sure that the site supervisor knows where they are at all times. A client should not be allowed on the site that day until the work is finished or the site is deemed safe.
So when the clients show up for a scheduled appointment with the contractor, he is able to take them through the site safely and is able to show them the progress that is being made and any issues that they may be encountering that could slow down the build. Also the drawings of houses are down on computers and a lot of times not all things work out when it comes to real life applications. So it a good time to show the clients these and give them options to fix or change them. Educating them on why it’s happening and what you will have to do is a great way to build trust. If there is a fee to fix these problems it can be worked out on site and not handed to the client at the end of the build with them having no idea why they are being charged extra.
With the speed in which new products are being brought to market for new homes and renovations, it is most likely that the clients will not have heard of the many new products that can be installed in homes. So if they are mentioned as the building process is running along then it allows the clients the option to search them out and see if they like them. Also the homeowners might have found some products that they are curious about and will want to ask your opinion. Sometimes they have found good products and sometimes they find products that you will reactamend that they stay away from.
The worst thing that can happen is when your clients are not involved in the decisions, not educated by you and their friends come along and ask that question “why did they do that!” and your clients have no answer. Then that all important trust that you have worked so hard for starts to slip away. Having to explain what you did and the reason for it is always harder then explaining what you’re going to be doing and why you believe it has to be done that way.
Educating your clients will leave them with the feeling that they were a part of the building process and that it truly is there home and it is exactly what they want. This will lead to happy clients that will tell everyone that asks how positive an experience it was to work with you.
You do not have to go far in Village Builders to find out that this formula works; we have a reference list that is so long that sometimes it’s hard to choose whose name to give out when people ask for references. It’s got to the point that we don’t wait for people to ask for references they are presented to the potential client with the quote for the project.
It also leads to repeat clients. A large part of our business is repeat clientele. We have some clients that we have done 10 projects for, from the small like building a tree house, to building a multi-million dollar residence.
So the next time you are thinking about doing a project whether it is big or small make sure the contractor you hire is willing to educate you.
If they are not, then give me a call and Village Builders Inc. Would be happy too.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

1 comment:

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