Nurture and appreciate the relationships that make a difference in your business
As a business owner, building relationships is not optional. It is imperative for construction companies to build good relationships with their clients. Unfortunately, many construction projects end in an adversarial position. It becomes ‘them and us’. Contractors view the client as out to get them, and customers often view contractors as a bunch of crooks. Yet, ANP Atelier & Associates had many long successful relationships with its clients, repercussions of which was in most cases the construction projects finished well, issues were sorted amicably, and seldom did one party feel aggrieved. In fact in many cases, we constructed further projects for the same customer – sometimes, even becoming their contractor of choice.
Why Have Good Work Relationships?
The services that engineer provide are often not judged until the end of a project or even for some time after. If you are looking to improve plant efficiency by integrating automation technologies or design and build a new high voltage distribution network, the success of the project may not be immediately measurable. However, the client’s experience in ‘Word of mouth’ is very powerful in the industrial world, as it can both lead to new project wins or result in the loss of potential contracts. A client’s experience will shape how they publicly talk about a project, even if the results are not yet available.
Having a good relationship with customers often means the customer favours the contractor for their next project, sometimes even directly negotiating new projects with them, or even awarding projects to the contractor when their price is not the lowest. The customer is prepared to pay a premium to work with a contractor that they know they can trust and rely on to deliver their construction project on time and with good quality. Having a good relationship with a client often means the contractor can obtain the inside track on forthcoming construction projects, enabling them to be one step ahead of competitors. Knowing what the customer is really looking for has enabled us to strategically position our price presentation, ensuring that we answered the customers concerns, that we could demonstrate that we understood what was important to the customer, and we could portray our company as the best for the project. Construction projects are built with a team effort. A team that is striving for one common goal to complete the project successfully. Projects are built on trust, with the client and the contractor helping each other and not out to trip each other up.Having a good relationship means the contractor understand the customer’s needs and focuses on delivering a project that fulfils these needs. Having a good relationship also means that the contractor and the customer can talk through problems, present their concerns, and develop solutions. Issues can be resolved without resorting to lawyers because there is already empathy and respect for the other party. A good relationship means that there’s open and honest dialogue. Good relationships reduce conflict. Good relations help resolve problems. While it does take time to build and maintain a strong working relationship, it is a cost-effective exercise that can improve productivity and efficiency. Equally, if not managed appropriately complaints and misunderstandings can have a detrimental effect on the relationship, costing both time and money.
How do we develop relationships with our clients in construction?
Building good relationships depends on individuals, yet it is also a team effort. Good relationships are built by talking, by working through problems, and most importantly by being sensitive to customers and their needs. Of course, good relationships are a two-way street, and both the customer and the contractor have to build the relationship. Good relationships are built on trust and honesty. They survive on delivering quality projects on time. Even the best working relationships have to be worked on, so contractors should stay in contact with their past customers. Today many have a frenetic and busy life and past good relationships can be forgotten at the end of the project. It is important to keep contact with customers, give a call, or even pop in for a coffee.
Successful projects are built on good relationships between all parties.
As contractors we should be sensitive to our customer’s needs. We must put energy and effort into building sound relationships, taking the time to talk to our customers. Indeed, we must have empathy with our customers and understand the problems that they must deal with. However, this empathy does not have to come with doling out freebies, rather it is about helping the customer and talking through problems and issues. We must know our customer’s expectations and ensure that we can meet their expectations. Successful projects are built on good relationships between all parties on the project. Successful contractors build solid and sound relationships with their customers – relationships that are strong enough to weather the rigours that construction projects face, relationships that are not destroyed when the parties play according to the project’s contract rules, relationships that are not easily broken by errors that are quickly fixed.
Building and maintaining good working relationships will make you more engaged with your work, improve your career potential, and elevate the whole team. Some work relationships will be more difficult than others. But with thought, time and effort these can become mutually beneficial, too. Good work relationships also give you freedom. Instead of spending time and energy dealing with negative relationships, you can, instead, focus on opportunities – from winning new business to focusing on personal development. And having a strong professional circle will also help you to develop your career, opening up opportunities that otherwise might pass you by.