At times, managing communication with a client can seem more difficult than managing the project itself. This is perhaps never more true than during the product selection process, when a delay on the client's part can wreak havoc on the production schedule.
By using Co-Construct (www.co-construct.com) — a Web-based service that manages the product selection process and facilitates and records communication between remodeler and client — you can create a master product selection sheet and upload product options. By logging in using a personalized user name and password, clients can see images and supplier invoices for all relevant selections. Each item is assigned a due date by which clients must make a decision, and Co-Construct automatically e-mails clients when a selection is upcoming, urgent, or past due.
TIMELY AND INFORMED Michael Bruno, of Stone Creek Builders, Shrewsbury, N.J., recently began using the service with clients. “The hardest part about building is managing all the information,” Bruno says. “Co-Construct takes [care of] that.”
In addition to promoting timeliness, Bruno says Co-Construct keeps clients informed about project budget. “Once a selection is made, the program tells you whether you are over or under the budget allowance in the original contract, so exceeding budget is never a shock to the client,” he says. And Bruno includes language in his contract so all selections made using Co-Construct are legally binding.
Co-Construct also provides avenues through which clients and contractors can ask questions of one another regarding particular products or construction elements. All questions and responses are permanently recorded in the program, and data backup is part of the service.
One feature Bruno is just beginning to use is the warranty module. “The client compiles a list of warranty items, which I can either accept or reject and provide an explanation for,” he says. Due dates can also be assigned for construction tasks to be completed by trade contractors, and Co-Construct e-mails trades reminders about upcoming or past-due tasks.
But according to Bruno, Co-Construct is most valuable for promoting mutual accountability. “Clients will call us and apologize for delaying — because they know it's their responsibility,” he notes. Bruno says clients have responded well to using the system, and problems with product selection have virtually disappeared. “My promise is to get clients into the house when I tell them I'm going to,” he says. “I'm being held accountable, and they understand that to execute the plan, this is the info we need.”