While they're certainly not something anyone looks forward to, the reality is that crises or significant issues sometimes crop up in the world of contracting. Whether we're talking about material delays, project scheduling issues or any other potential problem, there's one key tenet that applies no matter what the issue: Communication with clients is vital.
At Contractors School, we help numerous contractors manage their businesses, from important back-end themes like license or business entity updates to day-to-day operational areas. When any kind of crisis arises, whether it's for a single client or impacts several at once, here are some basic tips on how to approach the situation and ensure everyone's happiness.
One of the single most frustrating things any client never wants to deal with if there's any kind of problem is a lack of communication. If there's any kind of issue, stay in contact with your client(s). Tell them what happened, how the situation is being addressed and when it's likely to be resolved. An occasional update along the way will help ensure good faith and ensure that everyone remains on the same page as much as possible
For instance, if a material order is delayed for some reason, let the client know as soon as you are aware of it. Explain why it's been held up and when the new expected delivery date will be. Provide them with any relevant contact information if they need to follow up with the supplier themselves.
When communicating with clients about a crisis situation, it's important to be as transparent and honest as possible. Don't try to sugarcoat an issue or make it sound less serious than it is. Provide clear details, explain the facts and provide any relevant information that will help them gain a better understanding of the situation.
If there's an issue in terms of costs, provide the client with a written overview of how much extra they need to pay and why. Be sure to explain any mitigating circumstances that may have caused the change in cost, if applicable.
In cases where a crisis may mean that a contract can't be fulfilled as planned, take the time to provide some alternative solutions. If costs need to be adjusted, come up with a new financial arrangement that works for both you and the client.
If possible, offer additional services or discounts on future projects if the issue has caused significant delays or inconvenience. Showing that you are willing to go the extra mile may help ensure a positive resolution and build goodwill with your client.
In many cases, today's modern technology allows us to communicate quickly and easily with clients, even when there's an issue. Utilizing any kind of digital communication tools or meeting platforms can be a great way to keep everyone up-to-date and ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
For instance, using a digital update format will allow you to post regular updates, provide visuals if necessary and keep the client in the loop without having to worry about any kind of confusion. Instead of constantly having to call one another back and forth, digital technology can help streamline the communication process.
If an issue that presents itself is significant enough to warrant a change to the original contract, ensure that you draw up new paperwork and have both parties sign off on it. This will help protect everyone involved and provide a formal document outlining any changes, as well as what all parties need to do going forward.
In some cases, existing contracts will allow for changes to be made without having to create a completely new agreement. If this is the case, simply outline the changes and have the client sign off on them in writing.
In certain situations, the issues that have arisen may have put your client in a spot where they have no realistic choice but to cancel the contract. It may be frustrating, but it's important to remain understanding and respectful in such a situation.
After all, no one wants a conflict to arise out of an already difficult circumstance. Provide any necessary refunds or reimbursements as soon as possible and work with your client to ensure that they are left satisfied despite the cancellation.
With the right attention to detail, open communication and the use of modern technology, contractors can navigate even the most difficult crisis situations in a positive way. By taking the time to address any issues that may arise promptly and efficiently, you can help ensure that your clients remain happy and satisfied with your services.
For more here, or to learn about any of our contractor licensure or business support services, speak to our team at Contractors School today.