There are few things more frustrating than thinking you've been doing great on a certain job, only to have it blow up in your face at the end. After that happened a couple of times to Bryan Soth and Dwight Sailer, owners of HighCraft Builders in Fort Collins, Colo., they set about devising a way to keep themselves from being ambushed by disgruntled homeowners.

Soth and Sailer came up with this weekly feedback form, which is e-mailed to each client on Friday afternoons. Clients are supposed to send the form back to the office within a couple of days.

“Now, if there's a problem, we find out about it right away,” Soth says, noting the surveys are reviewed immediately upon their arrival in the office. “And we make sure it gets addressed.”

In a preconstruction meeting roughly a week before the project begins, HighCraft emphasizes the importance of the feedback form. If by Monday of any given week the form hasn't been returned to HighCraft, the client receives a phone call from the office reminding them to complete it and send it in. Soth reports that homeowners see the value in the form and rarely, if ever, complain about filling it out.

Like all good surveys, this one uses a rating scale as opposed to calling for longer, more thought-out answers. “If you ask someone for [detailed] comments on 10 questions,” Soth says, “they probably aren't going to want to take the time to do it.”

Other questions call for “yes” or “no” answers, which also require little time to give.

Homeowners are more likely to note their concerns and frustrations in writing, rather than a face-to-face conversation, which can be intimidating.