We all know clients are a tradie’s livelihood – without them, you wouldn’t have projects, and without projects and jobs, you wouldn’t be making money. Knowing this makes it all the more difficult when your clients are being right d*cks. So how do you make sure that both you and your clients are always happy?
Set expectations from the get-go
One of the main reasons that clients get stroppy is when they have higher expectations about the work and when it will be done. If you make it really clear from the outset what they can expect from you and how long the job will take, they can’t really get angry about it.
This is also a good time to underpromise and overdeliver – it sounds like a weird way to go about things, but if you think you can get the job done in 6 months, tell them it will take 9 months. That way, if you do finish everything up in 6, they’ll be pleasantly surprised, and if it does take longer because of any unexpected hurdles, they’ll be none the wiser.
If you can also give them a general indication of what will be done at each stage of the job, they’ll have something to refer to and will have a better idea of how the process works, without needing to constantly call you about what’s going on.
Communicate clearly and regularly
It might be annoying to have to keep communicating with the clients when the job is on track and going well, but it will definitely save you a lot of hassle later down the line. The client will appreciate the updates and will be more likely to be co-operative and friendly towards you.
The more you check that the client actually understands what you’re talking about, the better the result will be. Conflicts and complaints usually arise from misunderstandings too, so if you’re clear about what will happen and make sure the client is too, then you should hopefully avoid any heated arguments!
It’s a good idea to keep any communications noted down somewhere too – keeping records is a really great way of saving yourself trouble when the client says you didn’t tell them something important. If any changes are requested, note these down, and make sure you document your response so everyone knows what was promised and what needs to happen.
Have a contract
This one’s pretty obvious but sometimes if you’re just doing a job for a mate or a mate’s mate, you might not think it’s really necessary. No matter who you’re doing the job for, the best way to avoid any conflict or complaints is to have a contract and make sure the client understands it.
If at any time the client wants something different than what they’ve agreed to in the contract and gets sh*tty when you can’t do it, you can always bring them back to this document. There’s not really much they can do if they’ve signed something that says you’re only doing this and not that, and it protects you as well if things turn ugly.
Just make sure that all of the services you’re doing are clearly marked out in here and you can note that if they require extra services, there may be extra charges, extra time added, etc. etc.
Keep your professional cool
If a complaint is unavoidable, because let’s face it, some people just like to complain, you need to make sure you deal with it professionally. That means no name-calling (out loud) , fixing the problem as best you can, offering a refund or discounted service, and directing them to a higher authority to deal with if they want to escalate it further.
Often, once people realise you’re not going to take the bait and yell and scream back, they do tend to calm down and deal with it as professionally as you to avoid looking ridiculous.