August 17, 2022
8 Tips for Managing Client Expectations
Managing client expectations in the construction industry can be a massive challenge, even for the most experienced executive. After all, developing and constructing a new building from scratch is complex, dynamic, and time-consuming. It entails a lot of planning, designing, feasibility studies, and scheduling.
Most development projects require a substantial amount of funding even before the actual construction work begins. With clients having invested heavily in their projects, it is understandable that their expectations can sometimes become unrealistic.
Knowing how to manage these expectations can help your construction company to build and improve business relations, avoid misunderstandings, and enhance client satisfaction.
1. Set Realistic Goals
Given the competitive nature of the construction industry, many companies fall into the trap of overpromising only to under-deliver when it matters. No doubt, exaggerating your capabilities in your proposal can win you a contract, but it can eventually dent your reputation if you fail to deliver.
Always set realistic goals and be truthful about what you can do to help clients complete their construction projects successfully. Establishing realistic goals from the onset relieves the pressure on your field team to deliver and prepares clients on what to expect from your construction company.
You don’t have to lie to win a construction project. Many clients will be willing to work with your company if they find out you are credible. An honest bid can go a long way to building and maintaining strong client relationships.
2. Draft Detailed Estimates
Drafting estimates can be tricky, especially if you don’t have historical data on similar construction projects. Fortunately, conducting a feasibility study can help you accurately estimate project costs and expected timelines.
While at it, ensure you include the small details in the draft and final estimates. A detailed breakdown might seem overwhelming to clients, but it can make the difference in preventing misunderstandings, disputes, and other common issues.
You will also be able to establish realistic deadlines when planning the different project phases, effectively setting you up for success. Your keen eye for detail will give your team the confidence they need to undertake the project and help manage your client’s expectations.
Ideally, you should have a one-on-one meeting with the client to discuss the estimates and allow them to ask questions to make everything clear from the get-go.
3. Maintain Effective Communication
Communication is vital to the success of any construction project as it ensures you are on the same page with the client. With that in mind, you should maintain effective communication with the customer even after the project commences.
The ideal way to go about it is to provide consistent status updates before, during, and after each stage.
4. Produce Progress Reports Regularly
Keeping your clients engaged through periodic progress reports can help manage their expectations and prevent them from becoming frustrated. In any case, they don’t have to seek information if you provide regular status updates. The progress reports allow them to track and feel like part of the project.
Ensure the reports are clean and professional with visual aids such as charts, photographs, and graphs for easy interpretation. You can also create short video clips and slideshows that explain the project’s progress.
5. Schedule Changes
Construction work can be unpredictable, with unforeseen events such as bad weather or supply shortages impacting your schedules. You may have to adjust your timelines to accommodate these changes.
Providing evidence can help avoid possible disputes or conflicts. Nonetheless, most clients never expect schedule changes, with some feeling shortchanged. For this reason, you must promptly inform your clients about these eventualities and back them up with data showing why the changes are necessary or inevitable.
Ensure your client has a say in the rescheduling and provide practical options on how you plan to get back on track.
6. Changes in Budget
While budget changes may arise from poor planning, inaccurate estimates, and design errors, they may also come because of inevitable circumstances such as environmental damage and unexpected price increase.
Similar to timeline changes, you should promptly inform the client about budget issues as soon as you realize the initial cost estimate is unachievable. Trying to meet an unrealistic budget can increase the project’s expenses, making it unaffordable for the client or eventually leading to costly disputes.
Ensure you involve the client in the budget adjustments, so they can know how much more they have to spend for the entire project.
Also, keep the client informed by documenting and sharing risk updates in real-time, particularly if these risks might cause schedule and budget changes. Doing so will ensure they have realistic expectations about the construction project.
7. Request for Feedback
Always request feedback from clients so you can learn more about their expectations and gather first-hand information on what they feel about the project’s progress. The insights you obtain from clients can help improve your service delivery, eventually increasing customer satisfaction.
Embracing an open-door policy with clients makes them more comfortable asking questions and engaging with you. A two-way communication channel prevents misunderstandings and poor communication, allowing you to correct mistakes before they become disputes.
8. Build and Maintain Strong Client Relations
Building and maintaining strong client relations based on trust can help construction companies manage the expectations of their customers. Your clients will likely be more understanding and realistic if you’ve developed a solid relationship with them over the years.
With that in mind, you should engage and communicate with your clients frequently throughout the construction process to ensure you are on the same page and the project meets their expectations.