Even in the world of digital media, word of mouth can still be one of the best forms of advertising. According to a recent Nielson study, 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from other people, and 77 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product when learning about it from a friend or family member. As a result, the owner you are working for could be one of your greatest salespeople. Chances are, he or she is networking with other business owners in the community and, if you do a good job for the owner, others will hear about it.
An owner you just performed work for is also a great reference for future jobs and can help you build your portfolio. Here are 10 easy ways you can help build a solid relationship with an owner to generate new business for yourself.
This one seems so simple, yet may be the most important. Always remember to say “please” and “thank you.” Using phrases like “would you consider” or “I would recommend” helps develop a working relationship and removes the tone of demand. This is especially true for workers on a job site.
A key element to getting a raving recommendation is communication. Your communication must be clear, transmitted properly, received timely, and understood completely. Always review protocol with the owner and the architect prior to start. You may ask if they would like any additional steps taken above and beyond following the contract documents.
Keep the job schedule realistic, accurate, and updated. Accommodate the owner’s needs with the schedule whenever possible. Post the schedule on the job site for all to see.
Encourage the owner to the service of the architect to make weekly on-site inspections. This will eliminate a lot of problems and enhance communication tremendously. The architect should inspect the job site to ensure his or her work is being followed and conforms to the contract documents. It also gives the architect the ability to view the materials delivered (that he spec) to the site prior to installation. This puts responsibility in the architect’s hands and helps catch problems earlier.
During the course of a job, there are going to be disagreements on contract interpretation. One of the most important parts of negotiating is keeping people—and the emotional side of the relationship—separate from the issues that are being discussed. It is natural for someone to want control, have the upper hand, and seek discounts. Remember, in most cases a win-win solution for both parties is what we are trying to achieve.
Putting a well-defined contract in place upfront can help ensure you and the owner are on the same page. Questions regarding the contract should be addressed in the bidding process. It is importing for the owner and contractor to understand that construction documents are not perfect. Unforeseen conditions, revisions necessary by the owner, errors in the documents, and changes in the project scope commonly take place.
Putting in place general conditions, AIA form A201 or similar, helps to bring order to an otherwise imperfect process. It is important for the owner and contractor to fully understand clear general conditions for the success of the project.
If you happen to be using an AIA form A101 contract between owner and contractor, the A201 general conditions are already a part of your contract.
To minimize the impact of unexpected changes, provide a variety of solutions for consideration before any decisions are made.
The owner is making an investment in his or her business and is likely excited to see it come to fruition. Have the same energy level and stay excited about the project all the way through. If the project is a new building, have a “coming soon” sign made with the company’s name and place it in front of the business. You may want to include your name as well as the architect’s to show it is a team effort.
Keeping the job clean and safe not only shows professionalism, but displays how much you care about your work.
Attend the grand opening to make sure all is going well and to answer any questions. This can be a good time to network with the owner’s friends and family who may be looking for contractors for their own businesses.
Inviting the owner to one of your company’s social events may be a good way to stay in touch and get to know each other outside the job site.
You may want to offer a service or maintenance agreement to the owner after the project as a way to keep in contact.
The key to word-of-mouth marketing is to treat each job like an interview for your next job. It is an opportunity to show what your company can do. Building long-term relationships with your clients will benefit you and help build your business. A satisfied customer may end up being your best salesperson.