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The remodeling process throws the client's household into an uproar. Stress levels rise, tempers can shorten, and all the preconstruction conversation tends to fade into distant memory. Even for those who fully understand what turmoil awaits, they face anxious moments when it actually hits their home.
Remodelers have wrestled with this phenomenon for as long as projects have been performed. More and more, the in-home representative of the company has to be able to relate well with the client, holding hands and soothing frayed nerves.
For Terry Henderson of Terry's Quality Service Inc. in Spokane, Wash., this struggle is real, too.
"I let them know that they're going to hate me," he says. "You always get a lot of complaints throughout the process." He's made it a priority in his process to inform and prepare his clients as much as possible that the project will be disruptive. He's recently taken a more psychological approach, too. Henderson discovered a graphic that clearly shows how clients will react as their project progresses. He published the graphic, along with a Consumer Awareness Message, to inform readers--which include people who didn't use TQS, new homeowners and other non-clients--about the remodeling process in general.
The graphic is simply a timeline, showing the peaks and valleys of the remodeling process. After the "Euphoria" of a signed contract, clients' attitudes drop down while they wait for construction to begin. It peaks, then drops again through the rough-in phase. Then there's a substantial drop, "Discouragement," as the project seems to slow. That valley ends as the project ends, and the clients feel "Relief" followed by "Enjoyment."
"Few people understand the psychology of doing business," Henderson says. "[This graphic helps] someone understand the ups and downs of a project. One of my real goals is to inform consumers on how to choose a remodeler," he says. "This is another method of informing people on what's going to happen in their project."
In addition to the newsletter, Henderson continues to make clients aware of what awaits them. "When we visit, we try to let them know that there are certain things to expect besides dirt," he says. "Psychology has an impact on attitude." So far, Henderson's efforts have eased the overall level of anxiety during TQS projects, although it still doesn't sink in until it happens. "They listen to it," he says. "I still think they're basically unprepared. [Consumers] don't always know [what to expect]; you have to experience it.
"It's enough forewarning so that when it hits they'll be aware. It's just information to let them know certain aspects are good and some not so good."
Henderson's commitment to taking care of the client mentally continues as the job progresses. As with many remodelers, he's sold on the concept of keeping onsite notes so clients and leads can write questions and leave answers. "The sooner they say it, it doesn't have a chance to stew."
TQS, though, personalizes the process. "We're a big fan of keeping clients informed during the process," Henderson says. "We have a little book. Joe Smith's ''tell it like it is' book."
The book is labeled with the lead carpenter's name and is filled with blank pages. "It's a personal thing, tracking the history of the project," Henderson says.
Rod Sutton is the Editor-in-Chief for Professional Remodeler. Please email him with any comments or questions regarding his column.