A large part of acquiring new contracts in the construction business is knowing how to work with homeowners, both before they hire you and during the project. When meeting with people to discuss a potential job, the way that you talk with them and present yourself can make a huge impact on whether or not you get the job.
Jody Costello, consumer advocate and pre-renovation coach, guides homeowners through the renovation and building process and says that the main reason that someone chooses a contractor is the “like and trust” factor. “When a contractor demonstrates their knowledge of construction, takes the time to really understand the project, shows authentic interest in their project, listens to the client and is transparent in their business practices, you've got a home run,” Costello says.
Each time you speak with a homeowner, remember that you are actually selling yourself, as opposed to just your skills and product. “If they like you and can relate to you, then you are more likely to get the job,” says Eric VanWells, owner of True Power Electric Company in Wake Forest, N.C. Here are a few tips on how to make sure you make a good impression on your potential customers.
Be honest about scope and cost
Being forthcoming about the scope of the job and cost of the work can go a long way towards establishing trust with the homeowner. “I’m overly honest about things. I would rather not get the job, but know that I didn’t get myself or the homeowner into a bind by lying to get the job,” says Jonathan Gravell, president of Gravell & Company in San Antonio.
He was recently talking with a homeowner about a remodeling job that involved moving an air conditioning unit and told them that they would need to purchase a horizontal unit because their current vertical unit would not fit in the attic. “No one had told them about the additional cost and planned on it being a surprise,” says Gravell. The homeowners immediately hired Gravell for the job.
Homeowners are more likely to hire someone who they like and can relate to, so ask them about their interests and share some of your own. By getting to know each other and showing a genuine interest in their project and family, you can begin to establish a relationship. VanWells says that when he meets with homeowners, he asks about their family and pets and then follows up on how they're doing the next time he sees them. He also shares about himself in order to help his customers get to know him. “I go in there, and I make them feel like I am their neighbor. And that’s exactly how I feel about my clients,” says VanWells.
Costello cautions contractors to balance sharing about themselves and their experience with listening to the homeowner. “Constantly talking about themselves or their business and how great they are (and not listening to the client) is a red flag,” she said.
Follow through on your promises
Since many contractors will say one thing to a homeowner and then do another, you can often stand out from the others that your potential customer is interviewing by keeping your promises. This is especially important before they hire you. If you don’t do what you said you would, the homeowners could assume you won’t fulfill your obligations if they hire you. Contractors have found that showing up on time for appointments, calling when you say you will and providing timely estimates make a huge difference in gaining new customers.
Gravell has found that keeping his promises go a long way toward gaining new business and earning repeat business. “If I tell someone I am going to do it, then I do it. If I say I am going to call a homeowner at a certain time, then I call them,” Gravell says.
Each conversation that you have with a homeowner can be the reason that they either hire you or go with someone else. By working to create a relationship and establish trust each time you meet with a potential customer, you're bound to hear more yes's than no's.
Jennifer Gregory is a journalist with over 17 years professional writing experience. Jennifer blogs via Contently.com.
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