While I have spent most of my last 10 years as an author and advisor to remodeling business owners, I spent the prior 30 years creating joy in the life of homeowners through remodeling homes.
This column is a letter to your clients (and a guide to you) on how they can be better clients and, as a result, smile when their project is complete.
After all, what homeowner doesn’t want to be perceived as a great client? Who would not like to be the poster child client? Who would not like to have a remodeler for life because the experience of working together was wonderful?
Here are 10 ways to be a world-class client:
Nine times out of 10, issues in the remodeling experience come from miscommunication. Remodeling can be very confusing and counterintuitive. Ask a lot of questions (there are no stupid ones).
2. Try to get aligned with your partner or spouse on the priorities
The remodeler should be the remodeling expert and authority, not the marriage counselor.
3. If you are high-tech, then try to communicate/interact with technologies
Most remodelers like technology and appreciate that. If you are more high touch, ensure the remodeler understands that and finds a way to accommodate your wishes.
4. Allow the remodeler to control the process
You would not go to a doctor's visit and dictate the steps of the examination. Weekly meetings are a must (not optional). Make these meetings a priority (like going to church). There needs to be an agenda. Let the remodeler facilitate, but make sure you are proactive and engaged.
5. Do your homework
Homework is not punitive—it is essential to keeping the project on track. Make it a priority. Excuses don’t help the project be successful.
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6. Pay on time and when asked
Your remodeler needs to focus on the project and the experience, not cash flow or being a collection agency. The net profit margins in remodeling businesses are generally between 5 and 10%, so try not to nickel-and-dime them.
7. Try to be mutually transparent
When asked how much you would like to invest in something, you must answer honestly so the remodeler can be a better house doctor for you.
8. Say thank you
A personal handwritten note or a simple gift is very much appreciated and savored (but not expected). Feedback is also welcome (but don’t overdo it). It is your job to be a great client, not a business advisor to the remodeler. Ask the remodeler how they would like to get feedback and try to be respectful to their wishes.
9. Focus on the memories, not just the sticks and bricks
Many think remodeling is about the project, but it is really more about the experience. The remodeler is there to be your tour guide in this experience, not just the craftsman or project provider.
10. Don’t become strangers
Remodeling can be an exhausting process, and in the end, you may want some space from the interaction and relationship. It’s understandable, however, don’t become strangers. The dinner party you promised? Do it. The referrals you said you were going to make? Do it. And most importantly, just keep in touch. Put the remodeler on the Christmas card list too.
In closing, I have never met a client that went into the relationship dishonestly or did not want a good relationship. However, more than 50% of the BBB complaints are from remodeling experiences.
This is in large part based on everyone corrupting the above advice. In the homeowner’s defense, they are not remodeling experts. It is the remodeler's job to guide and counsel them on how to have a world-class experience and be a great client.