Communication between a client and a contractor is so important. Nothing sets a person off more than being told that a project will be completed by a specific time and then it’s not. Part of good management as a contractor is the ability to communicate.
If, at any point in a project, there is going to be a change that is going to impact a completion date, you must immediately communicate that to your client. When you tell a client that you will be done in two weeks, you absolutely have to be done in that time period, because they are planning their business off of what you are telling them. Poor communication or a lack of communication on your part can result in missed deadlines and the potential loss of a client. As a contractor, you must be able to effectively and precisely communicate to your client and your crew.
Learn How to Communicate
Communication is one of the things that most people are not good with. They graduate from school with the understanding that they have to do their best and give their all, which are legitimate things to teach people. Yet if you have given your all and you still fail, we all failed. What you need to know is what honestly can be done and when it can be done. If you don’t know, communicate that so that everyone can focus on finding the answer. You want to be able to answer with 100-percent certainty when the project will finish.
One of your jobs as a good mechanical contractor is to determine the feasibility of your client’s request. You need to let them know sooner rather than later if you cannot meet their expectations. What often happens in many industries is that contractors accept jobs and offer to give their all, without communicating to the client potential issues. The fact is that, while your clients want your all, they also want the job done.
Train your people to provide an exact date and time for completion of a project if they are talking with a customer or a potential client. If precise specifications and deadlines are not agreed upon, then this is not communication. A deadline suggesting that “anytime is fine” is ambiguous. So when clients says something like that, give them an exact day and time that you can have their project completed, giving them the opportunity to agree or disagree. That is communication. You are taking the ambiguity out of the discussion. You must have solid expectations every time you leave a meeting.
When you hear a client or somebody on your team using ambiguous words or phrases, such as “roughly,” “just about,” or I’ll take care of it,” that should be a flag to you that there has been a miscommunication. It is easy for a customer to say they have to have it tomorrow afternoon or in two weeks. If they are not setting a specific date and time, then you are not setting it yourself. As soon as you stop and say “that’s not good enough; I need a solid due date,” you are truly communicating. Train and manage your customers in the same way. Remove the ambiguity and have solid expectations.