We’ve all been there, you begin working with a customer and it seems like a match made in heaven. You understand their wants and needs, you both have the same design vision, and you even agree on a price. The thought, “This is the best customer I’ve had in a while!” comes to mind. And then the project begins. A common problem in the industry is keeping the customer’s initial feeling of excitement and happiness alive until the end of the project. Here are a few reminders as to how to keep that “honeymoon” feeling throughout the entire project.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
First, and foremost, make sure your design works before you make any promises to your customer. Check your measurements multiple times and make sure features will work with the layout of the kitchen. Sometimes, the customer isn’t always right (crazy, right?) and as a professional, you need to let them know when something can’t be done, as disappointed as it may make them. On the bright side, you now have the opportunity to let them know what will work, and why. Sure, this isn’t always an easy thing to do, but nothing it would be even harder to change everything after you’ve already raised their hopes and placed hours into a project that, “won’t work afterall.”
“Quality isn’t an accident; it’s a habit” –Aristotle
You can have the recipe to the world’s best chocolate cake, but if your chef has never used an oven, you’re out of luck. High quality work is something that can’t be faked, and your customer will know if it’s not right. It is also important that you hold yourself accountable, not just your installers, for the work that is being done. You can never forget that you’re on the chopping block if the customer is unhappy.
Honesty is the Best Policy.
In a perfect world, remodels would run smoothly…orders would be delivered in a timely manner, and everything on the truck would be the exact products specified. But, since we don’t live in a perfect world, things come up. When issues transpire that affect the project’s progress and timeline, it’s important to be open with the buyer. But, before you reveal this information, make sure you have all the details, and include any other setbacks that will affect their remodel. The worst thing you can do is present your buyer with an ambiguous issue and unrealistic solution plan. It will bite you in the *you know what* when you have to approach them again with yet more bad news. Be honest about problems that arise during the install, and follow-up with solutions so that they know you’ve got it under control and are doing your best.
Time is On Your Side.
What’s the proper amount of time allotment for a kitchen or bath remodel? Trick question – we all know that depends on everything from buyer decision timeframe to product availability to installation status. You may wait a little to get your customer their invoice; they may take some time to decide on a stain. It happens, we get it…and the outcome is sometimes an unhappy camper. Eliminate this issue by setting realistic time expectations for each phase of the project. Account for actual project time and allot extra time for unexpected errors. The customer will always be happy if work is finished before the date you gave, but won’t be upset if you finish on time.