The final walk-through of a home remodeling project is an exciting time for both the client and the contractor. It’s the moment when you can demonstrate the fruits of your labor and marvel at the transformation. For contractors, it’s also a key time to emphasize customer service and make sure that the project meets client expectations. At Gerety Building & Restoration, we’ve been providing final walk-throughs for more than 35 years. Here is a collection of Dos and Don’ts to help ensure the final walk-through is a success.
DO have a goal in mind
At Gerety, the goal of our final walk-through is to exceed the client’s expectations. We do this not only by talking about the specifics of the project, but also by listening. Good listening is one of the most important aspects of a final walk-through because it allows the contractor to address any concerns and offer solutions.
While we want to display our craftsmanship so the client knows the work was executed with the highest standard of quality, what’s important is how the client perceives the outcome of the job. If something feels off with the client, it’s important to ask the right questions to get to the root of the issue.
For example, in home additions with new windows, we’ll always ask if the client feels there’s too much natural light in the room or not enough. In either event, we’re prepared with solutions. It’s important to make sure that not only the look of the room but also the feel of the room aligns with the client’s vision.
Whatever principles or values drive your business—quality, affordability, sustainability—use them to create overall goals that will structure and guide the walk-through.
DO prepare in advance
The final walk-through should never sneak up on you. You should prepare well in advance to set yourself up for success. We begin with a “punch list” as soon as we reach 80 percent completion. This allows us to get the final details in order so we can deliver the project on time and on budget. Our punch list can include:
- Paint touch-ups on walls
- Polyurethane touch-ups on floors
- Dusting, cleaning, and shining
- Making sure all appliances, windows, and hardware are installed and working properly
- Final inspections and certificates
Paying attention to the smallest of details helps ensure a successful final walk-through.
DO emphasize dramatic changes
Remodeling projects can take a lot of time to complete, and the homeowner sees the project often during the construction phase, which can fade their memory of what the home used to look like. Bring it back in full force by collecting photographs of what the space looked like before construction began and show these to the client during the walk-through. The comparison will emphasize the dramatic changes that have been made and will fuel excitement and appreciation of your work.
DO talk about durability
Remodeling can be costly, and homeowners want to be reassured that they’ve made the right improvements with their investment. Reassure them that their choices will last for years to come by discussing the durability and quality of the materials used.
DO explain how to use technology and appliances
Some aspects of the project will likely be brand new to the homeowners. Today’s technology and appliances come with many advanced features that can be daunting. Help clients feel confident in owning and operating new technology and appliances by discussing unique features and showing how to use everything.
DON’T worry about payment
Remember: The goal is to satisfy beyond expectations, so let that—instead of a demand for payment—drive your walk-through. Usually final payment is handed over without issue when the walk-through ends, and if you’ve exceeded expectations, then this will never be a problem. If not, it’s time to address any issues brought up during the walk-through and worry about payment later.
DO move the relationship forward
A successful walk-through also moves the relationship forward. There are several ways to ensure that this happens. First, at the end of the walk-through, if you know that the client is completely satisfied, ask for an online review, which will help future clients find and select your company. Also explain any warranties or maintenance programs your company offers. Finally, we always emphasize that the client’s home is now part of our organization and that the client is now part of the Gerety family. This lets the client know they have chosen a trusted home improvement partner for life.
When we strive to exceed client expectations by listening and asking the right questions, we often meet with an equally positive reaction from clients. In fact, most clients will offer to write us a letter of recommendation.
The final walk-through is one of the most important points of contact with the client. Conduct it successfully, and you will gain repeat customers and valuable referrers of your business.
Keith Gerety is president of Gerety Building & Restoration, a full-service remodeling contractor serving the Westchester, N.Y., area.