Once you’ve assessed and estimated a job and been invited into the home or onto the site, treat your new working arrangement like you would a new relationship. You and your ‘new partner’ don’t know each other particularly well, you will both have your own experiences and expectations, and it is entirely possible that you might not get along.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t or won’t. From the moment you begin working on a job, there are plenty of simple things you can do which will help the arrangement to run smoothly for both of you.
Again, just like when approaching any other relationship, be open and honest. Therefore, be transparent with your skills, qualifications and capabilities – and, wherever possible, try to honour your initial estimate. Particularly when it comes to private homeowners, they may be suspicious of your intentions if you are vague in certain aspects or not forthcoming with others.
If your customer needs certain details explaining, endeavour to deliver this as efficiently as you would the more practical elements of the job. Offer your credentials and insurance documents as well as any relevant references freely in order to alleviate concerns your customers may have about dealing with tradesmen for the first time.
Respect the project…
… and, of course, the people or person involved. Everyone has their own set of principles, priorities, and personal quirks, so if you’re in their home or on their property, respect them wherever possible. A big problem that many of us face is when we deal with someone who treats us as the service – not the job.
These people usually feel that they’re quite clued up on their consumer rights, and may even quote relevant legislation at us from time to time. Try to treat even the most insolent customers with the level of respect you’re already applying to the job, remember what you’re there for, and keep an open mind.
At the start of any relationship, we can’t possibly know what someone has been through before we met them, which may be impacting their behaviour today.
Ask, listen, understand
Unless you do, you’ll always be guessing. When it comes to working on someone’s property, you need to know exactly what they expect. This doesn’t just apply to the job itself, either – it also involves timekeeping, onsite movement and personal etiquette, as well as appearance and demeanour.
Some of the people you work for might well be as worried about what their neighbours think of them as they are about the finished job.
Just as you would on those important first few dates, be on time and dress to impress. If you establish these expectations early on, you’ll find that most people tend to relax a little as they get to know you and the way you work.
Just like in the rest of our lives, though, not all relationships progress quite like we planned, and accidents can happen even when we’ve done everything exactly as we’d planned to. Protect yourself and your business by taking out construction insurance, securing the peace of mind that will help you and your customers to work together with less worry about what happens next.