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How Can Construction Businesses Improve Client Communication?

3 Ways to Improve Client Communication

In any professional relationship, communication will be a driving factor. For projects with good communication, positive attitudes will abound and work can continue at an efficient pace. For projects that are plagued with poor communication, mistakes will be made, work will be slowed or even halted and frustration will define the general attitude until it is over.

Set your project up for success by establishing good communication principles with your clients from the beginning and following through with them. Here are some guidelines you can use to help you improve your relationships with your clients and perhaps even earn a few new ones once your project gets off to a rousing success:

1. Simplify the Communication Chain

Anyone that’s ever worked a job has gotten tangled up in the dreaded game of “He Said, She Said.” The result is often a lot of miscommunication, mistakes and individuals who are angry after misunderstanding the situation as it truly was.

Forego these complex games of “Telephone” by establishing two individuals who have the final say in what gets communicated — one for the client and one for the contractors. These two individuals can prevent a lot of conflicting orders, changed minds and misunderstandings from bungling up the project instructions or tarnishing any important messages that need to be delivered.

While this strategy still means information will need to be passed along through other people, the fact that the client only talks to one person and the contractors only talk to one person helps reduce the amount of contradictory or inconsistent messages that get communicated.

improve client communication

2. Define Roles and the Scope of Your Project

Clients for nearly any industry often make huge conceptual mistakes when it comes to someone else’s job. They may ask for a project design that goes against everything modern engineering practices hold dear, for example, or they may ask for a “simple add-on” to the project that in reality would mean several weeks and thousands of dollars’ worth of extra work.

Protect yourself from potential lawsuits by establishing early on, in writing, what the scope of the project will entail. Also, feel free to assert your authority as an expert in your field from the first moment so that later you can firmly remind the client when they overstep their boundaries. Doing so may seem rude, but the truth is that they hired you for your expert knowledge and experience, so when they choose to ask you to brush these things aside, they are invalidating the service they originally wanted.

3. Explain As Much About Your Job as You Can in Plain Terms

Construction is a highly-technical industry full of jargon and complex concepts, which is why contractor bonds can often be beneficial. Clients who do not grasp these concepts may reflect this ignorance in their communication. From their perspective, they have done nothing wrong, so it is your duty to educate them and help them make decisions based on the way an expert would do so, not an outsider.

For example, a deadline for work may need to get pushed back because cold, wet weather did not allow the concrete to cure in time. Just saying this phrase to a client may cause them to fail to grasp the true nature of the problem. However, explaining how the “drying” process for concrete means more stability and a higher-quality of work built upon this foundation allows clients to see more clearly that they do not want to sacrifice the project’s viability just to have it done a few days sooner.

Likewise, providing timely project updates or perhaps even showing the client some videos about how certain tasks like wall demolition work will help build more trust and give yourself more autonomy when it comes to making important calls.

Improve Client Communication and Improve Your Business

When you improve client communication principles like these, not only will it help from project-to-project, it can help you build a brand for your construction company based on positive client experiences and trustworthy recommendations. Eventually, you should be able to win more bids not by being just the cheapest, but by being the best in the client’s eyes.

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What You Need to Know About Contractor Bonds

Contractor bonds, or surety bonds, are agreements where a surety company assures the owner of a company or project that a contractor will complete an arranged construction contract. These are an excellent solution for making sure that there is not only assurance, but financial security in place when it comes to the work in question and the pay owed to workers, suppliers and subcontractors involved in the job. Here are the things you need to know about contractor bonds.

 

Types of Contract Bonds

There are three general types of contract bonds. Each has its own use and purpose in a contract job.

 

  • Bid Bonds ensure that the bid is being entered into in good faith and offers assurance that the performance and payment bonds will be delivered.
  • Performance Bonds provide insurance against financial loss if the contractor does not perform up to the agreed upon standards.
  • Payment Bonds detail the labor force, subcontractors and suppliers that will be paid throughout the course of the job.

 

Surety and Insurance

In most cases, the surety company that engages the contract bond is a division or subsidiary of an insurance company. These agreements, like insurance policies, are a form of risk management that is under the authority of the state’s insurance department.

The main difference is that insurance exists to protect against things that may happen, where the surety company creates agreements regarding things that are supposed to happen. These protect project owners from loss, should contractors fail to deliver.

 

Required Agreements

Surety bonds have been required by the United States government since 1893 for all public works contracts. The same kind of legislation has been enacted at the state and local level for almost every state.

Assurances Offered

A surety company conducts a thorough check on the contractor so that they can offer assurance that the contractor can see the project through from start to finish. Some of the things the contractor checks include are:

 

  • Reputation and references;
  • Capability to meet all job requirements;
  • Experience and expertise;
  • Possession of equipment or the ability to get the equipment needed;
  • Financial viability to see the project through; and
  • Credit history, rating and relationship with a bank.

 

If the Contractor Defaults

Defaults happen, no matter how carefully a contractor is investigated. If this occurs, the project owner will declare the default and the surety company will investigate the situation before settling the claim. The contractor is required to obtain any bonds that are specified in the agreement, and the surety company will use these bonds to review their options to satisfy the claim. Among the possibilities are:

 

  • The job could be re-bid;
  • The contractor may be replaced;
  • Financial assistance may be offered to the existing contractor; and/or
  • The bond’s penal sum could be paid off.

 

In the end, contractor bonds protect against many risks through rigorous background evaluation and an ironclad agreement regarding the completion of responsibilities by the contractor. They are an important element of risk management in any major construction project. Do you have any experience with these sorts of agreements? Leave a comment and let us know!



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