How Contractors Can Wow a Customer

How contractors and suppliers can wow customers is to be more pro-active and less reactive. To wow is easier than you think. It doesn’t take a lot to set your company apart from the pack. Try a few of these tips and you will get more work, make more money and have more fun. Here are a few ways you can wow your customer and set your company apart.

1. Man the job

It‘s easy to get jobs you can’t handle – bid them cheap! When bidding, be prepared to properly man projects with enough qualified trained workers. A larger job may take 15 workers to maintain the schedule. If you only have 20 men on your entire crew don’t bid it and hope you will find enough help when you need it. I want trained crews led by foreman who have ongoing training, can communicate, make decisions, read plans, understands codes, know the contract, and run a safe job.

2. Be well financed

I’ve heard many a time, “I’ve got to get paid by Friday or I can’t make payroll.” All contracts include payment procedures for every project. Generally, when you invoice by the 25th, you get paid by the following 15th through the 30th of the next month. This is how the construction business works. Contractors who are under capitalized have an ongoing cash-flow crunch which doesn’t allow them to hire enough help to get their jobs done on time. This creates stress and causes their businesses to run inefficiently. This makes everyone upset including the general contractor, construction manager, project developer and it hurts other subcontractors on the job.

3. Manage the contract

Step one: Read the contract! Most contractors never read their contracts thoroughly. They’re so excited to get awarded a job, they’ll sign just about anything. Most contracts include clauses which clearly define how to get paid, provide proper notice, proceed on changes, present a change order, keep the schedule, communicate, attend meetings, submit items for approval, proceed when not paid, and handle disputes.

4. Be pro-active

A pro-active contractor is on top of every job they have contracts to build. They don’t wait for customers to call. They take responsibility for monitoring all their projects by visiting jobsites early and staying in touch with customers on a regular basis. When they get the call to start, they’re ready, materials are approved and delivered, the foreman is familiar with the project, and they are ready to man the job as required to maintain the schedule.

5. Manage the jobsite

It would be really special if contractors and suppliers treated jobsites like their own homes. In your home you don’t leave trash all over the place or leave a project unfinished. You don’t borrow your neighbor’s tools, equipment, materials, phone, or power without asking. You don’t damage other people’s work and sneak away without telling someone you’ll fix it. You don’t create unsafe conditions and leave them exposed for your family members to encounter.

Why do I have to do a walk-thru and make a ‘punch-list’ for the contractors to complete? Can’t they see what’s wrong with their work? This drives me nuts! I expect contractors to be professional including weekly safety meetings, daily cleanup, protect materials and finished surfaces, do your own punch-list, keep your own set of plans, and do ‘as-builts’ as you go.

6. Help me

Working relationships with contractors and suppliers is a continuous push and pull versus give and take. On a recent 12 building project we were nearing completion, each building had been leased and the tenants were waiting to move in. It was obvious we needed the contractors to finish and get final inspections. It was an impossible hassle to get them to perform as they had countless excuses why they couldn’t complete their work faster. These poor attitudes and unacceptable business practices seem to be the norm in the construction industry. Doesn’t anyone care about anything but themselves?

I want contractors and suppliers who care about overall project goals and do whatever it takes to make it happen. I am not asking them to lose money or go beyond the call of duty - just do what they are contracted to do. This includes meeting schedules, caring about customers and being accountable to finish projects on time. On the project I described above, we had a $14,000,000 loan clicking along at $2,300 per day interest. Plus there were 12 tenants trying to schedule their move-ins. When contractors missed their deadlines, over 100 people were affected; plus added costs kept adding up.

When you’ve got a choice to hire Joe’s Electric vs. Ed’s Electric on a project, you weigh lots of variables. Consider your choices: Joe’s Electric has five electricians, is a pain to deal with and generally asks for lots of change orders. Ed’s Electric has 30 trained electricians, is always there when you need them, and is fair and timely on change order requests. If the two bids are only 1 or 2 percent apart, you are going to award it to Ed’s Electric every time. You don’t need the hassle, life is too short, and construction is too hard.

George Hedley works with contractors to build profitable growing companies. He is a professional business coach, popular speaker and best-selling author of “Get Your Business To Work!” available online at www.HardhatPresentations.com.  To sign-up for his free e-newsletter, join his next webinar, be part of a BIZCOACH program, or get a discount coupon for online classes at www.HardhatBizSchool.com, e-mail GH@HardhatPresentations.com.

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