There are plenty of online outlets for customers to praise and complain about vendors but no where for vendors to discuss customers. Vendors need to keep an eye on Yelp, Angie’s List, Google and the like for reviews fair and unfair. Sometimes the consumer can make anonymous statements and some have limited identifiers. Very infrequently do they have their name and location. Most times they write fair reviews but occasionally they have some gripe that isn’t fair and they use public media to get it off their chest. Vendors don’t have much recourse to dispute the allegation. We can post a reply sometimes but we have to be very careful in our wording as to not throw gas on an ember to start a fire.
What is not included in those reviews is our side of the story. Case in point we got a very bad review with a failing grade when all we did was not return one email, that we have no record of receiving in the first place. There was no 2nd email or follow-up call. Just a long scathing review about one missed email. Another was a slam because we gave a quote to replace concrete steps with wood (which we do) and not a mason quote to repair concrete (which we don’t do). No consideration to the fact that we aren’t a mason and would have no idea how much it would be to hire one to do repair. What these have in common is unreasonable expectations from potential customers.
Weekly we get calls from potential customers who really have no idea what goes into a job. We spend a fair amount of time educating them on how to move forward. We make referrals to who might be better suited to help them. We explain when you need an architect for design help. We recommend a handyman when they don’t really need a General Contractor. We try to call back everyone even if it’s just to let them know we can’t help them. We understand how frustrating it is to leave messages and not get them returned. Like after we have spent 20 hours preparing a free estimate only to not hear back. It’s up to us to follow up to see if they want us or went with a different contractor or our price was high or they just changed their mind. A quick email would be polite but most just leave us hanging until we reach out to them. Many times people just use us for a insurance estimate and never plan on using us. Do they tell us that? No they just waste our time.
Great customers have reasonable expectations. Great customers work with us in making materiel decisions. They listen to recommendations and do some of their own research. They make speedy decisions and get back to us quickly. Good customers do a lot of research and take a long time making decisions which add to the length of a job.Great customers have an idea of what they want already or are open to cost-effective choices. Good customers have pictures but no prices and are surprised by the costs.
Great customers share their realistic budget numbers with us so we can let them know exactly what they can get for that amount of money. Good customers give us a range to try and get a lower price. The reality is the price is what the price is. What changes is the scope of work and specific materials. When if we know the owner only has $20,000 we can tailor the job estimate to fit that otherwise we could give a estimate for $30,000 which includes different materials and would be amazing. This is where having an architect drawing comes into play. We can make a accurate estimate from the get go.
Great customers understand time frames and schedules. They understand that we are co-coordinating many different specialists and town inspections and that sometimes there are gaps in time. Great contractors limit them but they are unavoidable. Good customers don’t understand that they are not the only job in progress. Good customers see that no one is at their job site today and jump to the wrong conclusions.
Great customers are a joy to work for and will get more with cheerful attitudes and understanding will than a good customer will get with demands and grumpiness. Great customers will talk to the General Contractor before an issue becomes an ISSUE. A good customer will keep quiet or talk to others or the workers hoping it gets passed on. As in most things in life it comes down to good communication.
So here’s hoping that you all become great customers.