Sometimes the homeowner/contractor relationship can be a challenge to navigate. That doesn’t mean that a homeowner doesn’t know what they want nor that they don’t have respect for your time and effort.
It’s all a matter of finding a way for the communication lines to be open between homeowners and contractors. If you listen closely, you’ll hear their real concerns and needs.
Here are five things homeowners are trying to tell you that may shed some light on how to move forward.
1. They Want to Save Money
It may seem obvious. You probably want to save money too. But this mentality often comes out in unexpected ways. It might sound like, “my brother can do the electrical work” or “can we reuse the cabinets?”
Those aren’t what they seem. They aren’t trying to make more work for you or complicate the situation. At their base, they are about saving money
What You Can Do
Explain why reusing the cabinets, or having the brother do work can be a problem: “cabinets are harder to salvage if we have to remove them” or “having your brother do work may void the warranty I offer”. Then address the real problem.
Show your client the statement of work and look together for other possible ways to save some money. Be flexible without compromising your standards. Listening sometimes is enough to help the homeowner feel comfortable with the original agreement.
2. They Don’t Like Builder Basic
Homeowners are all about personalizing and customizing their spaces. They don’t want their home to look like everyone else’s. The basic building materials you use day in and day out may start to concern your homeowner as the days go by.
Homeowners sometimes get concerned because they can’t see the whole picture. When they see gray cabinets and gray paint on the walls, they may jump the gun and start to worry that it looks boring. They forget that the trims and finishes that are still coming make a big difference.
What You Can Do
Reassure your homeowner that they’ve made a great choice selecting neutral basics. They will increase resale value and allow for personalization in the details.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and that’s definitely the case here. Show them some stunning kitchens that have neutral basics and how the finishes were used to set the space apart.
Send them to visualizing tools that show the homeowner how their space might look with different materials. They’ll soon realize on their own that it’s easy to overdo it if there’s too much personalization on the big kitchen basics.
3. They Hold the Power of Social Media
Your business may be heavily reliant on word of mouth. Many people turn to the internet first for everything from buying toothpaste to finding a contractor. The equivalent of word of mouth online is reviews.
Your clients know they wield a lot of power online. They are used to giving reviews for just about every business transaction they are a part of. That also means that they watch closely so they can be prepared to write your review.
This may sometimes feel unfair, as you can’t give homeowners a bad review. You may feel that they are breathing down your neck and there’s a lot of pressure to impress.
What You Can Do
There’s enough pressure on the job site as it is. Diffuse the good review/bad review worry with a little knowledge about how your future clients think about reviews.
Potential clients are looking more for how you conduct business rather than if you have all good reviews. In fact, it’s a good thing to have a bad review now and then so you can show (publicly) how you handled the situation. Sometimes homeowners give a bad review in order to get problems solved, not simply to bad-mouth your work. Just keep doing great work and you won’t have to worry about reviews.
4. They Think You Have Superpowers
Though the homeowner/contractor relationship can be difficult at times, for the most part, your clients trust you. They respect your expertise and experience.
They probably also think you can do things you just can’t do. If “can you pull a few stings and get that inspector here sooner” sounds familiar, you’ve experienced this.
Because they value you as a professional, they may ask you to move up the completion date, change a material at the last minute, or get things done for less money. They don’t mean any harm; they just think you can do anything.
What You Can Do
Be clear about what you can and can’t do from the start. Write into the contract deadlines for materials selections and penalties for changes.
It also helps to communicate early if things are going to change from your end. Keeping the homeowner apprised of delays on the countertops will help them understand when the entire project isn’t completed on time.
5. They Worry about Getting In Your Way
It may not seem like it when they call you every other day to ask about a detail of the project, but your clients do worry about being too involved. They can’t help it. It’s their home; they have to live there and they want to love it. If anything goes wrong, it’s their pocketbook that takes the hit.
It’s not because they don’t trust you. It’s not because they think your crew is incompetent. They know they are a burden when they keep dropping by the site. But they do it because this is a huge personal investment and it’s their responsibility.
What You Can Do
Once again, communication is the answer. Keeping them in the loop goes a long way to making them feel comfortable. Some contractors even provide pictures or live cameras of the site so homeowners can check up anytime they want.
Instead of seeing their visits, questions, and comments as a burden, make them feel like an integral part of the process. That will engender trust and give them a part of the responsibility back that they feel they are losing when they turn it over to you.
The relationship between homeowner and contractor doesn’t have to be strained. With a little understanding, you can smooth things over. Listen closely and you’ll be able to determine what the real issues are and find a way to present solutions.