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Unveiling the Relationship Dynamics Between Tradespeople and Clients

As a tradesperson, interacting with clients is an inevitable part of the job. From the moment you step into a client’s home or business to the time you pack up your tools, you’ll be immersed in a unique relationship dynamic.

But how do tradespeople and clients really feel about each other? What are the tensions bubbling under the surface? What steps can you take to improve the tradesperson-client relationship?

A recent report by Toolstation investigated these issues in detail, speaking to 2,000 UK citizens and 570 professional tradespeople about their experiences and views. Read on to discover the intriguing insights it revealed.

Friendly Conversations

When on a job, most tradespeople are happy to engage in light chat with clients. Research shows 71% don’t mind conversing as they work, with a further 22% actively enjoying the friendly interaction. Only 7% prefer silence.

For many tradespeople, chatting creates a positive, personable experience that can strengthen client relationships and lead to repeat business. As long as conversations don’t hamper productivity, they are welcomed.

That said, tradespeople need to gauge if a client wants to chat before striking up long discussions. While many welcome it, 17% of clients prefer minimal conversation during a job, whether because they feel chatting could be a distraction, they have work to do themselves, or they simply dislike small talk.

The solution? Remain observant of body language signals and let the client take the lead.

Refreshments and Facilities

Offering a drink to tradespeople is standard hospitality in the UK. Unsurprisingly, 74% of those interviewed voted a good brew as their top drink of choice on the job. However, tradespeople seem to feel that supplying food is going the extra mile: 36% don’t expect snacks or meals to be provided (though 62% said they wouldn’t mind a biscuit).

Clients seem to have mixed feelings about providing refreshments. 47% like making drinks for tradespeople as an act of common courtesy. However, 30% of clients dislike having to offer food. To avoid awkwardness, tradespeople shouldn’t rely on clients for sustenance – and if in doubt, ask politely.When it comes to tradespeople using the facilities, 51% of clients don’t mind it – but a huge 15% dislike it. To be on the safe side, always ask to use the bathroom before assuming it’s OK, and leave the facilities clean and tidy.

Bothersome Behaviours

Both sides are guilty of bothersome behaviours that could potentially damage their relationship. Clients not paying on time, trying to lower the agreed fee, or failing to clean the work area are particular irritants for tradespeople. Many also complain when clients request extra jobs on top of what was agreed, or “linger” over their shoulder all day.

On the other hand, the tradesperson faux pas that cause the most annoyance for clients include:

  • Leaving a mess and not cleaning up (33%)
  • Turning up late (26%)
  • Increasing the price after agreement (23%)
  • Making a mess of the facilities (20%)
  • Wasting time on the job (20%)

Avoiding these pitfalls will make for much smoother relationships between tradespeople and clients. Simple steps like tidying up after yourself, being punctual and sticking to quotes can go a long way. We all appreciate when someone respects our property and time.

Awkward Moments

It’s clear that the tradesperson-client relationship isn’t always perfect: entering a stranger’s home inevitably leads to some uncomfortable moments. 41% of tradespeople have endured occasional awkward exchanges with clients. 13% report regular uncomfortable situations.

Likewise, 28% of clients have had one or two awkward encounters with workers. In some cases, this may stem from a (real or perceived) breach of etiquette. For others, simply having someone unknown on your property might be a source of anxiety.

From both perspectives, it’s important not to take any uncomfortable moments personally. Often, it stems from the novelty of the situation rather than any intention to offend. A bit of understanding can go a long way.

Tradesman Talk

What do you think is the key to maintaining positive relationships with clients? How have you handled disagreements with customers? What advice would you give younger tradespeople starting out on how to interact with clients respectfully?

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments, and share this post on social media if you found it helpful.

Until next time, make sure it’s Tradesman Saver.

Stephanie Lowndes

Stephanie is a Digital Marketing Masters Graduate with extensive Customer Service experience gained in the retail and hospitality sectors. Stephanie is currently a Senior Marketing Executive at Tradesman Saver.

All articles by Stephanie Lowndes

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