We each have a reaction to uncertainty. Some find it exhilarating. Some find it terrifying. In all cases there is an element of stress. If you are a custom builder, you are intimately involved with managing stress-your own as well as the effects of your customer’s stress upon you.
As the builder you come to the table with years of experience in a field your client usually knows little or nothing about. Without addressing this disparity in the way you communicate, you are setting yourself up for almost certain misunderstandings throughout the life of the project.
Consider wearing the hat of an “educator” when interacting with your customer. Educate them about how you do business. When it comes to the contract, create a summary sheet with bullet-points of the most critical pieces that you need to stress, and make sure to use stories from your experience as examples.
Educate them about why you prefer the subcontractors that you use. Educate them on the implications of delayed decision making on the project time-line, their budget and your business, especially if you have other jobs in the pipeline ready to start.
Continue to be an educator to minimize misunderstanding all the way through the project. The worst thing you can do is assume the customer knows your business! If you are stumped as to what topics to cover in this education effort, look no further than the communication breakdowns in your past and ask yourself, ‘What did I learn from that situation that will make a difference for me and this new client?”
This stance may seem elementary to some or bothersome to others. But the question remains the same. What are you doing to create mutual understanding and reduce uncertainty throughout your projects? Your reputation depends on it.