With myriad home improvement shows at their fingertips, many homeowners feel familiar with residential remodels — even if they’ve never been on a job site. As such, it can be tough to prepare them for the realities of living alongside a work in progress.
To help things run as smoothly as possible, try these tips for setting client expectations and maintaining mutual respect during a residential remodel.
As Not Seen on TV
When one of his clients found a marble tile on Pinterest they wanted to special order for a shower remodel, Ken Combs, CEO of Custom Quality Carpentry in Durham, North Carolina, was confronted with another issue: The client did not understand the full effect of that change order.
“They thought they could just pay the difference in the tile,” he says. “But really the level of craftsmanship to get the high detail would require a different contractor. It’s hard to quantify the difficulty of the assignment to the client.”
To address such issues, Combs recommends taking the time to educate clients as much as possible up front. “It’s about teaching them why and how the job site works,” he says. “They think it’s just like on TV.”
In addition, he suggests being understanding. “We’re working in someone’s home and around their family and kids and they need to be able to trust us,” he says.
Beverley Kruskol, president of M.Y. Pacific Building in Tarzana, California, agrees that respect is of paramount importance. “You really need to work with the client, not against them.” She’s found that being respectful of clients is sometimes all it takes to create an understanding, collaborative environment.
“We just did a faux finish on a fireplace,” Kruskol says. “The client had an awful red brick fireplace and did not like it at all, so they were going to cover the brick with stack stone. I had a painter come in and do a sample of soft gray tones, which the client loved. The painter did the whole fireplace in that soft, beautiful gray ... which ended up costing the client a quarter of what they were going to pay.”
Kruskol says that being empathetic to customers’ desires and connecting with them helps mitigate last-minute changes and other bumps along the road. “Really get to know them and understand them,” she says. “Don’t push what you like onto them because we all have different tastes.”
Take a Breather
In addition to listening to clients’ needs, it’s good to remind homeowners that a quality outcome takes time, says Jay Cipriani, president of Cipriani Remodeling Solutions in Woodbury, New Jersey.
Being transparent about challenges that arise during a job is the best way to maintain trust with a client and avoid potential conflicts. Cipriani and his team hang a project calendar on clients’ walls so homeowners can see which tasks are being completed each day. This helps clients feel in control of the process, Cipriani says.
“People will remember the experience they had more than the outcome of the projects,” he adds. “We provide customers with a good experience as well as a good product.”
Be sure to join the Lowe’s ProServices LinkedIn Group to read additional content and interact with other Construction/Trade and MRO professionals.