Effective communication is your single best means of getting referrals and repeat business. These five common courtesies are easy and will gain you priceless good will:

  • Return calls promptly. No one likes to feel they're being ignored. Design Construction Concepts (DCC), Northbrook, Ill., returns all calls within 24 hours. “We're firm believers that no client is any less or more important than another,” says DCC partner Andy Poticha.
  • Address the client's concerns directly. “You can't avoid issues, and it's better to address them immediately,” says Poticha. You're the professional, and you set the expectations. Don't equivocate, and don't make excuses. “We're big boys and have no problem taking the blame on issues that are our own,” Poticha adds. “Clients respect that.”
  • Make explanations easy to understand. Even if it takes a few extra minutes to explain a process or reasoning, take the time. An informed client is easier to deal with.
  • When the client wants something outside the contract, don't immediately say, “It's not in the contract,” or, “Sure, but it'll cost you extra.” First consider whether it can be done with extra materials on hand and how long it will take. If the change is possible, then explain your change order process and ask if they'd like you to prepare an estimate.
  • Leave the cell phone in your pocket when talking to the client. To answer the cell says you have little regard for him or her. —Stephen Wilson ([email protected]) is a partner in Biz-comm Inc., a marketing/communications firm specializing in the needs of remodelers. To download complimentary marketing tools, go to http://biz-comm.com/downloads.