Maybe the real question is: How does the client deal with the possibility that, soon after their project is done, it starts falling apart?

I'll answer this as a remodeling contractor - the role I fulfilled the majority of my life - but also as a client, who has had remodeling work on our current home done by others. It's important we stand in the shoes of our clients, as we all can.

Set Clear Expectations

The remodeling company must set clear expectations about what will happen after the project is completed. This can be a challenge, because it often is taking place at a time when the remodeling client is excited and apprehensive about the project starting and is overwhelmed with information.

When running our company, we would review how the completion list at the end of the project would be handled. The never-ending punch list was something we and the client wanted to avoid.

After the project was done, we wanted the client to call us first whenever anything needed attention. We would tell the client that if it was our responsibility, we would fix it at no charge. If it was their responsibility, we would give them a price to fix it.

Getting very clear before the project starts about what the client can expect from the contractor after the work is done gives the client a sense of security that the contractor won’t disappear.

Provide Instructions

As the project progresses, a lot of information is generated about the project and all that comprises it. The contractor must collect all installation, operating, and care instructions for all items that are installed in the building. These materials should be organized with tabs bearing names such as “Appliances” and “Installation Instructions” to help the client find needed information quickly.

Without this information, the client is left searching for it when it is needed. That is something your clients would find very frustrating.

Systemize Check-ins and Touches

When we were running our company, I would do a thank-you visit about one month after the project was 100% done. Part of the visit was to thank them for having our company do their project. Part the visit was to inspect the work. I would try to find a couple of items needing a bit of attention, things that the client hadn’t noticed. Our company would then arrange for the lead carpenter who ran the job to get the items tuned up.

That set a good tone for the client regarding our continuing relationship with them. After all, much of our work came from past clients and referrals by them.

Our administrative assistant would do a check-in call six months after the project was over, asking how things were going and how the client was enjoying the completed project.

We would call the client one year after the project was done to see if anything needed attention. If it did, I would go and check it out, since I was the salesperson for the job. Having the person who started the relationship with the client show up a year after the job is over gives the client a powerful story to tell their friends. The client feels like a made a smart decision to work with your company.

We included our past clients in our marketing efforts, making it difficult for them to forget us and reminding them that we still cared.

I would hand write thank-you notes to anybody, including past clients, who provided us with a referral. I did this whether or not that referral turned into a job for our company.

Aftercare is Essential

When a remodeling company does a project for a client, it is not the end of a transaction. Rather, it is the first step in a long relationship.

The client wants the company to be a resource. As a business, we thought that was good for our remodeling company. We wanted our past clients to call us with any concerns. Why? Because we wanted to be their go-to resource so they wouldn’t go to anyone else.

We could take a look at something that may or may not be our responsibility. If appropriate, we could direct them to the best provider for their need.

If a company does not do this, their clients start thinking that they should call other remodeling companies.

Continue Being Exceptional

Providing an exceptional experience for a client must continue after the project is done. One of the best reasons to do it is your good past clients will likely ask you to do their next project.

It takes planning on the part of the company to do this. And it will cost some money.

Build the cost into your budget. Build the time into your scheduling practices.

The first job a company does with a client is a learning experience for both. The second job goes even more smoothly. Why run your business doing only the first job?