Many people know that business is done on relationships. We tend to buy things from businesses that we trust, or people within those business that we trust. Contractors aren’t any different, if anything relationships in the construction field are even more important! Let’s think about this for a minute…
Contractor & Customer Relationship:
- The first time you take a call for an estimate the tone of your voice, the way you talk on the phone, and finally the conversation on the phone itself is your first impression. First impressions are difficult to change, so make it a good one!
- Next you have the first time you meet the customer face to face. Another important impression. Many contractors struggle here, but why? Well what I’ve learned is contractors view estimating as the “boring” or “dum” part of their job. Better yet the “time-wasting” part of their job. However, if you don’t have estimates then sooner or later your going to run out of work right? So this is an important piece of the customer relationship. Not only show up, but show up on time. I use the 5 minute rule if I’m 5 minutes early or late I won’t notify the customer. If I’m more than 5 minutes I call them. -After the estimate is done, and it should be done on time, get it to your customer quickly. Again you are building a relationship, so do what you say your going to do or communicate the problems to your customer.
- So you won the job! At this point you need to continue your touch points with your customer. Making sure if you won the job that you are giving them updates. Many contractors fail to do this, they wait for the customer to call them… DON’T wait. Show your customer you care about them and their project, give them an update. I don’t typically call my customer. I require my team and our subs to upload images, videos, and communicate via our project management software we use called Build Hero. This way we are all on the same page and we keep our customer up to date on their project. You’d be surprised how many phone calls, text messages, emails, and so on this saves by simple being proactive with them.
- Once the project is done your not done with your customer. Keep in touch send them a thank you. Get them involved with your social media and other marketing if you do them. Use them to help bring you more business. Continue to build that relationship.
Contractor & Sub Relationship:
- Contractors and subs have an interesting role to play with each other. They could each be a sub for someone else, maybe for one another, it just depends on the project. For instance our companies plays well with a flooring store in our city. Most the time he (flooring store) is a sub of ours. However, I have now been a sub for them in 2 projects in 2020 so far. How’s that work you say? Easy I’ve sent him work and built a strong relationship with him, so now he sends me work as he needs someone to fill his gaps. It works quite well most the time.
- How do I build relationships with my subs? For me it’s simple we meet first, discuss our business, my expectations, their expectations, our goals, and how it’s going to work. Then each quarter we do a (sub & supplier day) – see my next blog on sub & supplier day to learn more! The other thing I do is I tend to send them all my work and I give them exclusivity. I only have one sheet-rocker until he really messes up or they can’t keep up. Which I explain that at our first meeting. Set the tone, set the expectation of how everything will work.
Contractor & Supplier Relationship:
- Contractors and suppliers have an even more unique role with one another than subs do. This is due to the supplier holds power over the contractor due to their size. Meaning a supplier is large enough that generally no one contractor will make or break them. Suppliers also attract contractors, so they generally have relationships with many different contractors. On the other side the contractor holds power over the supplier due to their customers. This is due to the fact that contractors generally bring customers to the supplier. It’s an interesting relationship. So how do you strengthen your relationship with your suppliers? Easy you do similar things as I described for subs. You interview your supplier reps and make sure they are going to be a good fit for you. In terms of how they will communicate, work with you on projects, and take care of your customer. I once had a supplier tell me their only job is to get the materials to me. I told them they are wrong. Their job is to take care of my customer before, during, and after the project.
A Few Things To Consider:
When interviewing a sub or supplier it’s good to make sure they are a good fit for you and you for them. Not everyone will work well together and that’s ok. I look for the same key things from my partners.
(1) Do they do good work?
(2) Will they show up when they say and complete the work?
(3) Will they get estimates to me on time?
(4) Will they communicate via picture updates and messaging?
(5) Do they have good pricing?
My biggest concerns are their communication pieces, making sure we are all on the same page is a must for me!