Want a blueprint for success with your next client? From your initial meeting to ticking off the last item on your checklist — and every stage in between — here are the 10 most important things homeowners look for from their general contractor. Deliver on them, and you’ll have successful partnerships and projects every time.
Written by Elizabeth Brownfield
1. Solid References
Before you can get to work, you’ve got to win the business. So you always want to have a list of previous clients who can speak to your track record for completing projects on time, on budget, and to their satisfaction.
This may be the first time your client has ever remodeled their home or worked with a General Contractor. They may have questions or expectations they don’t even know how to ask you about. Or, they could feel intimidated because they don’t know the lingo.
Reassure them by sharing your experience and qualifications, including how long you’ve been in business, what licenses and insurance you hold, and how many projects similar to their own you’ve completed recently.
Let them know in advance what permits you will need to obtain, and fill them in on any inspections that will be required so they will feel assured that you’ve got every aspect of the project covered.
3. Good Communication
Like in any relationship, communication between you and the homeowner is key. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time together during the course of the remodel, and it’s personal spending so much time in someone’s home.
Before you start a job, ask your client what the best way to get in touch with them is. If they only respond to text or hardly ever check their email, it’s helpful to know from the start.
Miscommunications not only affect your relationship with a homeowner, but they can be costly too. Avoid them with clear, honest, and timely communication. It will help build the homeowner’s trust and confidence in your work, and will be a helpful foundation should issues arise.
Clients want to know that you can be counted on, and that you’re going to show up when you say you will – it’s as simple as that. So if your plans change and you can’t be on-site when expected, you’re going on vacation, or if you have a family emergency that calls you away unexpectedly, update the homeowner as soon as possible and let them know when you’ll be able to reschedule.
5. An Accurate Budget
No matter the size of the project, all homeowners want the job to be completed within their budget. Make sure that your project estimate includes a comprehensive and detailed accounting for the cost of all required materials, permits and work by subcontractors so the total price tag doesn’t balloon beyond the initial figure. And if changes come up, be clear about how much the work will tack on to the total bill.
6. A Realistic Timeline
Likewise, avoid problems down the line by creating a feasible timeline that takes into account potential delays like bad weather, delivery snafus, and any holidays when work will be put on pause.
7. Troubleshooting Skills
Problem solving is one of the most valuable tools you have in your GC toolbox. And as a seasoned professional, you probably have a good idea which aspects of a project have the biggest potential to go wrong. So avoid headaches and protect the best interests of your clients by putting contingency plans in place before common issues arise.
Homeowners have to understand that things may go wrong – that’s one of the main reasons your role as a GC is so essential. The most important thing is for your client to know that you have a plan of action when problems come up. Promptly address the issue, offer solutions, and get the fix in place so you can all move forward.
8. A Good Network of Subcontractors
Every electrician, plumber, flooring installer, and other subcontractor you hire for a project is a reflection of you. Have a solid Rolodex of talented and trustworthy subcontractors who will complete their work well and on time, and be respectful when they’re on-site, and you’ll always look good.
9. Quality Control
Be thorough in your examination of your individual subcontractors’ work as it kicks off, progresses, and is nearing completion. The devil is in the details, and you know the homeowner will be checking every square inch with eagle eyes. Get ahead of any complaints by inspecting the work in their home as if it were your own.
10. A Final Checklist
When work has wrapped, take some time and care to go through your checklist. Make sure that subcontractors haven’t left dust and debris, materials, or tools behind, and double-check that all paperwork is in order.
Closing the loop with final details will ensure a happy homeowner, prompt payment, and referrals for more work.