Saturday, May 22, 2010

Are you a "good" client or a "bad" client?

I put the words good and bad in quotations because, as I've as I’ve discussed before, this is not about being right or wrong - yet these are words we definitely understand. We hear so much about a bad contractor, a nightmare remodel, yet we've all grown up with the quote "the customer is always right."

So I want to address the clients as the remodeling relationship progresses, who they are and what they bring to the table.

One of my previous articles was about a client who wants to help in order to save money. I've talked about how this doesn't save them money because, for myself as a contractor when I enter into a remodel, I have my whole crew and I am the project manager. So I don't need anyone, especially the client, doing their own demo, going to the paint store or going to the hardware store. In fact, this may even increase the cost because, if they get the wrong paint and I have to go to the paint store, I have to pay my crew that extra time. It wasn't any fault of mine or the crew’s that the job was delayed.

If the homeowner goes to the store to buy, let's say crown molding, and they don't get enough, then my crew chief has to go to the store to buy exactly the amount that was needed. If, let's say, the store was out of that particular crown molding and we had to get another type or wait for the same crown molding to come in, then more money is being spent because the crown molding the client purchased can't be used. The client may end up having to pay for the downtime if there's nothing else on the job that can be done while waiting for the new order, thereby causing the crew to be delayed.

I want to talk a little bit about referring and how a client who has been happy with the results refers a construction company.

I had a client (she was a coaching client), who decided that she really wanted to act as the general contractor on her own project. This is absolutely okay and she did a good job getting the remodel that she had envisioned.

However, the project manager she hired to help her look at bids, go over contracts, and keep things moving, was what she termed a “nightmare”.

She put in a lot more work because eventually she fired that project manager and she took over as the general contractor and the project manager. Now this can absolutely be done, and be done effectively. However, if you're not used to doing this for a living, it becomes your entire life, because there's a lot more that goes into a remodel than just “this is what I want the kitchen to look like, I've hired everybody and it'll just get done”.

That's not the case. This client realized that if she had hired my company, not only to do the work but also to do the project management, she could have acted as the general contractor, paid all of the subs, put my company on payroll (as a project manager) and gotten the job that she wanted - without all of the nightmares and the delay in schedules that did occur.

I was talking to a friend who said that she really knew she could have done a better job had she had me and it would've been easier on her, so she wanted to refer me to friends and some of her clients. However, she wanted to be the project manager on the job if she did that.

I told our mutual friend that it would not work because she is referring someone to me and in doing so she must let go of that "lead". Her wanting to be the project manager is, in essence, wanting to make sure that my company does exactly what she feels it should do in relation to what our expertise is.

Said simply, she wanted to keep track of the lead and make sure that it went the way she wanted it to go for her referral. I told the mutual friend that this wouldn't work for me because I have a crew, I am the contractor and I am the project manager. Now, in the past, I have hired project managers, but they have worked with my company and managed the projects after having been trained by me.

The bottom-line is I told the mutual friend that, if she wanted to refer people to me, that would be great but she must let go of the need to control that referral. If she could not find a way to make herself do that than she needed to start her own business and that's fine too.

Stay tuned for more in my upcoming book: Remodel 411 – The Relationship of Remodeling.

Reva Kussmaul
CEO – Eye For Detail Inc.

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