Bob DuBree, owner of Creative Contracting, in North Wales, Pa., had nearly finished a $200,000 job when, due to the economy, he was forced to lower overhead and lay off several employees. “When you have two months with no leads, you know things won’t be good,” he says. But while he was preparing himself for the future, he now realizes that he wasn’t preparing his clients.
“We submitted a draw request and got an e-mail from the homeowner before receiving the check,” DuBree says. It turns out that the client had called the remodeler several times to speak with the staff members who they usually dealt with, only to find that those people had been laid off. “[The clients] wanted assurance that we would be around to finish their job, and I don’t blame them,” DuBree says.
DuBree was able to reestablish trust, and the job ended well with happy clients who have recommended Creative Contracting to others. But it was a rough, and avoidable, episode.
Yet how much should you disclose to clients? It’s important to have regular, scheduled meetings, says Victoria Downing, vice president of peer group organization Remodelers Advantage and a REMODELING columnist.
“In one such meeting, be up-front and tell clients what you’re planning [for your company], why, and the benefits to them — more experienced ‘A’ players staying on, a more productive and efficient team,” she says. “Let them know all the ways that you’re being nimble, creative, and proactive in the current economy.
“This communication can nip any concern in the bud and save the client from angst that could turn into something worse.”