Calming Homeowner Fears and Gaining Client Trust
By Jacquelyn Nause
Remodeling a home is a stressful and expensive undertaking, and for many homeowners this creates a lot of anxiety. Understanding homeowner fears and being proactive about communication is key to establishing a trusting relationship.
Changes as small as painting a room or as large as a full remodel can be equally as stressful depending on the client. The very fact that they are hiring a professional indicates that there is some level of concern about the scale of the project. Placing strangers in their home to disrupt their space for days or weeks only amplifies that anxiety. Most homeowners have heard stories about unreliable contractors or poor workmanship. Going the extra mile to alleviate client fears will not only help the process go more smoothly, but can also grow your business through referrals from happy clients.
Take the time to ask a lot of questions and listen to the needs and concerns of your client before you get started. Speak honestly about their fears, addressing each one with as much detail as you can provide regarding budgets, timelines and expectations.
Provide recommendations and testimonials from previous clients, highlighting the professionalism and cleanliness of your team and showing that you are able to be trusted in their space. Allow the client to meet any subcontractors ahead of time. Provide the homeowner with your credentials, licensing and insurance information at the start.
Before a contract is signed and project begins, walk the homeowner through any potential obstacles or issues. Be honest and forthcoming with all information up front, so that there are no surprises mid-project. Things like dry rot, poor foundations, termite damage and mold can mean additional time and money, so it’s important to prepare your client for any issues that may arise.
Write out a clear contract, including a detailed timeline, description of the work and payment schedule. Be sure to have it signed by all parties and make copies for everyone’s records before the project begins.
Oftentimes, homeowners underestimate the true cost of a remodel. As the construction professional, you need to help homeowners understand cost and quality, and provide them with options throughout the decision-making process. Prepare an exhaustive estimate at the onset of conversations that includes labor, materials and incidentals. It’s also a good idea to prepare your client for the cost of any potential issues that may arise, so they are not caught off guard down the road.
Poor workmanship is a fear for every homeowner. Go above and beyond to provide references and examples of your work. Be sure to show clients your portfolio and reviews to set expectations and to set their mind at ease that you are worth the cost.
Disruption to Home Life
Even the most well-prepared clients can express concern about the timeline and level of disruption to their home. Contractors coming and going, construction dust and disrupted routines can make a homeowner feel out of control and emotional. Experienced contractors know how to reduce those fears, skillfully avoid potential mishaps and work with empathy.
Explain to your clients all the details of the project, including how long the project will take, how the work will impact the functionality of their home, who will be in the home, and what the noise and dust levels will be throughout the process.
During renovations, communicate any changes or issues immediately to the homeowner. Be very specific regarding progress and give regular reports. Be sure to keep good boundaries regarding working hours, clean up at the end of each day, and provide clear timelines and expectations.
Do Your Best
Always be honest, consistent, communicative and reassuring to your clients. At the end of the day, it’s also important to remember that not every client is for you. If there are issues with communication or disagreements on style or timeline, perhaps you can recommend a contractor that better aligns with their vision. Taking on a project for a customer that isn’t a good fit for your business will only leave them frustrated and upset.
Do the extra work to establish a positive relationship up front and do everything you can to maintain trust throughout the process. Regular communication helps keep clients updated and helps them feel confident that you are working to meet their needs.
Jacquelyn Nause is a contributing writer with specialties in real estate, parenting and wellness. She enjoys traveling with her husband, being a doting mother to her two incredible kids and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest playground.