Avoid Disagreements by Going the Extra Mile to Achieve Clarity
As I stepped out of my comfort zone this week and prepared the proposal for VB Homes’ “construction proposal system”, I was reminded of the importance of communication.
As I worked on this proposal, I considered reasons for them needing this system and it reminded me of the importance of good communication. The consequences of poor communication are huge.
An excerpt of a previous post from August 2016
Over the last few days, I was reminded of how important good communication is.
Two separate instances have come to my attention confirming this.
One situation is of a customer who had been given a price for a project and then after the project was started (concrete was poured) found out the price for the project was more than they were told. This caused some real problems for both sides.
The second was someone who had a project done with no written agreement. Once the project was almost completed there were some quality issues. This left both the customer and the contractor in a place where they felt cheated. The contractor billed for work done but wasn’t getting paid. The customer felt that the work was below standard and couldn’t get the contractor to come back and fix it.
As is usually the case there were extenuating circumstances in both situations and both sides had legitimate viewpoints.
Both projects would have had less problems had there been clearer communication from the beginning.
It has been my experience that there are differing opinions on how much detail should be included in the communication between customer and contractor. The bottom line is that it needs to be enough so that all parties involved know what to expect.
Rarely have I known small to midsized contractors to spend the time and effort to include very many details.
I understand, it takes time. The question we should ask is this…
Is it better to spend the time communicating before the project starts or wait until there’s a problem and everybody’s upset?
On the other side there is the possibility of too much information and the customer being confused and feeling lost (I know, it’s hard to believe that I just wrote that).
Often large commercial contracting firms and architects do this. I recently was aware of a commercial project that the communication was overly complicated. There were forty-one pages of drawings and a spec book over 1” thick and it wasn’t that big of a project.
With all that information the customer was overwhelmed and unclear about the project. Don’t get me wrong I like details and information. I think it is essential to good communication. The problem is that if it’s too complicated the customer still is uniformed and lost. This is still poor communication.
Ultimately proposals should be about helping customers know what to expect and get their dream project done.
I have lost count of the number of times that I’ve heard customers say that a building project was the worst experience they ever had. How sad is this?
They were excited and looking forward to having some new project done and then they are left with feelings of regret. I think there’s a balance between the two extremes.
This is where the real challenge is, finding the sweet spot for all involved.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to good communication, but the first thing is, ask questions and listen to the answers. As a contractor, don’t go into a project with your preconceived ideas of what the customer wants.
Find out what THEY want and HELP THEM BUILD IT.
Hopefully the proposal sent to VB Homes was clear and understandable and gives them a clear picture of what to expect.