At some point or another, every builder faces this dilemma: a new job seems like a good one—but it comes with a high maintenance client. Do you take the job or run in the other direction? Pros say, go for it because in the long run you’ll likely net a valuable repeat client—but take proactive steps to ensure success.
Usually clients who are going to need a lot of attention send out signals from the very beginning. Nick Howell of T&N Asphalt Services offers these clues for identifying high-maintenance clients:
- They invite more than three people to bid.
- They have a scope of work that they created that is overly complex (and usually includes unnecessary items).
- They require pre-bid meetings, the type that are usually only seen in larger commercial projects.
- They make many calls or emails prior to the bid. (Nothing is wrong with a call or email or two, but too many can be a red flag.)
Though it can be tempting to avoid moving ahead with clients who check these boxes, doing so can stymie growth, as Howell points out: “ We are in business to make money, so don’t turn down a difficult client, just recognize what you are dealing with and plan (and price!) accordingly.” When you are in it to win it, enter into the relationship proactively planning to do more of everything, including: communications, touch-ups and go backs and documentation. Accordingly, Pros suggest, “bid right” and get paid well. Here are some specific tips to implement in steering to success in high-maintenance situations:
- Only bid projects that you are comfortable doing. These are not the clients to try to spread your wings.
- Realize the extra time, extra trips and aggravation that will be required, and charge for it. You must include this in your bid (but not as a line item!), otherwise it’s easy to lose money on these projects. This is what makes these jobs worth it. Sometimes the additional effort required is significant, so don’t be afraid to charge appropriately. Some jobs might be as much as 20% higher or more.
- Communicate clearly….Extra communication with more-than-normal information is hugely important and extremely beneficial in the long run. Send “what to expect” sheets, progress emails, pictures and certainly an email and final pictures when the job is finished. All this really reduces their anxiety.
As you build your capacity to take on demanding work, you’ll also find it helpful to up your financial intel and have a competitive edge on bidding—and that’s what you’ll get when you qualify for The Partnership Account® for Contractors. Once qualified, you’ll be more ready to win bids then ever, with:
- a surety line of credit—in writing;
- a private digital dashboard;
- a daily snapshot of single and aggregate limits
- the ability to update work on hand—and increase your aggregate.
All this, plus, we give you power of attorney to issue your own bid bonds. Get in on the action, now:
Good To Do
Experts at For Construction Pros encourage being proactive about client relationships, especially with those who are high maintenance. Specifically, for example: “schedule your own pre-construction meeting, even for a small job. Remember, it’s about making them feel comfortable (and you are charging for it).” Additional suggestions about winning over valuable clients who could end up on your side forever include:
- Be proactive and invite them to the job one day on a multi-day job. Obviously, pick a day that things will be easier. Walk with them and talk shop a bit, but keep it brief and send them on their way.
- Have an onsite meeting on the last day, while your equipment is still there. This is the time to address any issues. Get them to sign off on any fixes and sign off on the project in general.
- Schedule a follow-up in a week to have another walk-through with them.
Don’t forget: Colonial is here to help you grow your business too. Once qualified, The Partnership Account® gives builders a surety line of credit—in writing—and a private digital dashboard, providing daily snapshots of single and aggregate limits and bond capacity.
Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a leading direct seller and writer of surety bonds and insurance products across the USA. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company and U.S. Treasury listed.