1. Talk and, more importantly, listen to customers before starting a project.
Communication takes time, but it’s necessary. Not only does it matter for learning what customers want from a design and functional standpoint, it also allows you to assess:
- Their overall demeanor (relaxed and easy-going or demanding and stressed)
- How they would like you to communicate with them (e.g., phone call, text, or email)
- How involved they want to be in the process (for instance, how often they want status updates)
2. Remember that it’s more than just “a job” to your customers.
Resist viewing a customer’s project as “just another job.” It may be one of many on your schedule, but to the homeowner, it’s a big deal. Their deck, patio, or fence is something that will affect their lifestyle.
When discussing a project, repeat the details back to the customer to make sure you’re on the same page about what they’re envisioning, when the work will begin, how long it will take to finish, and how much it will cost.
If there will be a delay in starting or finishing work for a customer, let them know as soon as possible. The customer may have taken time off work or made other sacrifices to be available based on when you said you would arrive. Communicating news that customers won’t be happy to hear is no fun, but it’s always better to be candid and straightforward. Proactive communication helps show customers that you care—and that can mean the difference between satisfaction and frustration.