Building relationships with your clients is a crucial—though often overlooked—part of being a flooring contractor. Contracting is more than just knowing your salt about floors and building. You need to sell your services, communicate with clients, handle disputes, deal with payment, lead employees, manage projects, and more.
So how do you balance all of these tasks and still deliver quality service to your clients?
Below we’ve outlined how the process of client communication should look when installing or repairing flooring. This will ensure that your client relationship and customer service remain strong as you go through the flooring project.
1. Create a pre-bid evaluation
Evaluations of the project are crucial to winning a bid and an overall successful project. The evaluation should look at each part of the project, from the smallest details to the overall big picture.
Some contractors use project management software to build their evaluations. This includes floor plan templates with dimensions, location of repairs, drains, variations, pattern layouts, dimension joints, materials, and more. If you can’t afford this software, you should make your own in-depth evaluation form that you use consistently for all of your clients.
Providing an evaluation before the bid helps establish communication with the client right off the bat. They will see the focus on theprojectrather than on the payment.
2. Discuss potential setbacks
When handing over the evaluation, it’s a good time to discuss potential “setbacks” in the plan. What are the areas of concern? Which parts will need the most repairing? What could go wrong? How much would it cost if something went wrong?
For example, if you’re ripping up tile, what would be needed if there was a broken plumbing line underneath? This discussion should outline exactly what would happen with regards to the budget and timeline in the case of this kind of incident.
Basically, this is where you expect the unexpected—and prep your clients ahead of time.
A number of contractors are afraid of talking about what could go wrong because they want to leave their evaluation conversation on a high note. However, it’s better to set clear expectations and be honest upfront. This helps avoid communication concerns and disputes if something goes wrong during the project.
The best way to approach this conversation is by talking about what could go wrong—followed by the steps you and your team will take to prevent these potential concerns. Your client will understand that problems occur, but they’ll appreciate you taking proactive steps to address these concerns ahead of time.
3. Provide a fair quote
After you’ve provided a clear evaluation, now you can talk about the cost. Starting with the evaluation will help your client better understand where the cost is coming from. What is the scope of work? What will each part of the project cost? If possible, itemize your bid with a rough estimate of the cost of materials, labor, etc.
This is especially important if you’re trying to win a bid against other contractors. If your bid is higher, you can use the evaluation and itemized “receipt” to show why your cost is higher. This builds a conversation around quality rather than cost.
Never underbid. People don’t want to be hit with “surprises.” Be honest about the expected cost and time that will go into the project. Remember to set your price based on your standards of quality and labor. Undercharging can be just as bad as overcharging.
4. Get progressive signoffs
When working on the project, you should have a cadence of client approvals. Create a sheet of milestones that your customer will “signoff” on as you go through. For example, you may want them to signoff after ripping up the floor, when choosing the new floor, when building the design, after laying a corner of the flooring down, after the first room is done, after sealing, and after buffing.
You want the client to see and approve every step of the process if possible. This can help spot concerns while they’re still small. This also ensures that there are no future disputes about your work. They have approved each step, giving you the formal “okay” to move forward.
Often, clients don’t want to have to be physically present for each step of the process. With technology, you can send them professional pictures and have them virtually sign off. You don’t want to make this process challenging for your client.
What matters is that you get their consent to continue moving forward so there are no surprises. If a client watches the progress, they’re more likely to be happy with the end result. This, in turn, eliminates any possibility for disputes about damages or incorrect installations.
5. Do a final walk through
When you’ve finished your services, walk through the project with the client. This will be a good opportunity to discuss an overview of the project. How did things go? Did anything go wrong? How did you fix problems? If your client sees that anything is wrong, this is the moment to discuss final adjustments.
Document everything. Ask your client to sign off on each part of the project. Take pictures as you walk. This helps to maintain security for both parties. You can keep it friendly while keeping it professional.
This is also the point at which you want to talk about finalizing any leftover payments.
6. Give them a care package
After approval of the walk-through, provide them with a packet of maintenance. Leave a professional instruction sheet that helps them take care of their new floors:
How often should they be cleaning?
What cleaning methods should they use?
What products and tools should they use?
We recommend leaving a starter kit of some of these products as well. This includes samples of soap, degreaser, polisher, and even a new set of brushes. This is a great way to market future sales of maintenance products. Your clients will appreciate that you’re taking the extra step to care for the project moving forward.
This package can ensure that the flooring lasts longer—which will make the client happier. You want them to come back to you for future projects, and offering ongoing maintenance is a strong way to add value and build a longer-term relationship.
7. Follow up
You want them to become a client. This means you need to continue to interact with them and provide value moving forward. We recommend following up after three months to see how the client is liking their new floors. This should be purely conversational without any sales.
Then, six months after that, you should follow up again. Ask how the floors are holding up and if they need more maintenance products. This can include light sales of products and maintenance. You should then follow up yearly to inquire about the floor and remind them of your contracting services if they have any upcoming projects.
The Bottom Line
Building a long-term relationship with your clients is the best way to ensure your contracting business endures and grows. This means building a basis of communication from the pre-bid evaluation through follow-up floor maintenance.
At Onfloor, we believe in the power of client relationships.
We want to build a relationship withyou, so you can go out and foster strong relationships with your clients.
Contact us today to discuss how to provide even higher quality contracting services and products to your clients.