Ever wonder about the best way to present change orders to clients? Here are some helpful hints:

Be honest about your role. Even though your job is in the field, when you're working with a client, you become a salesperson for the company.

Set expectations. The lead carpenter should say, "We can do that, but it will cost money and take more time." If you state this up front, the client knows the change order will produce additional costs and an extended time frame. Otherwise, clients may assume the change is free or won't affect the schedule.

Ask if they want to continue with the process. It takes time to research a change order. Sometimes the client is just curious. You may avoid this waste of time by asking the client if they want to follow through.

Give clients a timely answer. Estimate how long it will take to gather the information and tell the client you will talk with them within a specific time period. Follow through on this commitment.

Don't assume anything. Don't look at the change order and automatically think it's too much for the clients' budget. Be prepared for a range of reactions. They may even tell you the salesperson said you could do the task while on site. Don't feel pressured to reduce the price or do the work without a change order.

Ask for the sale. If they want you to make the change, ask them to sign the order.

--Tim Faller, Field Training Services, www.leadcarpenter.com.