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Avoiding Conflicts by Setting Clear Expectations

At GreenSky®, we’re all about helping contractors grow their businesses and delight their customers. In the real world, however, delighting your customers can be a challenge. Particularly when you come up against a customer who seems to be trying their best not to be delighted.

To avoid conflicts with customers during any project, set clear and realistic expectations at the beginning. Here are ways to limit surprises and help create a positive relationship with your customers:

Begin by listening. Have a conversation, not just a presentation. It’s the best way to fully understand your client’s needs and concerns, so you can act as a consultant, not a salesperson. Keep in mind the idea of under-promising and over-delivering, not the other way around.

Talk about the budget, payment terms and financing early in your initial meeting. Focus on affordability, not the total project cost. Stress the value of your work and your desire to ensure they are delighted with the outcome.

You can head off potential conflicts over the final invoice by providing a written estimate. Be sure it clearly describes the scope, length, and cost of the project and outlines how and when the customer is expected to make payments. Go over the document in detail and discuss any issues that appear to be causing concern. Above all, be honest.

As you begin the project, determine how – and how often – you and the client will communicate. Don’t hesitate to set limits on your availability and allow them to do the same. The goal is to create a high level of respect for each other’s preferences.

For longer projects, provide weekly updates and review new products as they are delivered. This not only keeps your customer informed, it also assures them you are closely monitoring the status of the project and doing your best to exceed their expectations.

To remind the customer about how your company works, create a leave-behind document that briefly covers items such as response times, preferred communication methods, payment terms, etc. Begin creating this document by thinking about the problems you’ve had with previous clients.

The key element in all these suggestions is honesty. You’ll find that an honest conversation early on in the relationship will limit surprises and arguments down the road.  It’s a bit of a cliché, but it can be useful to remember the following: “You can have your project cheap, fast or good - pick any two.”

Here are a couple of articles you might find interesting:

Managing Unhappy Home Remodeling Clients.” blog. Accessed 1/2/2020.

How to Handle Unrealistic Client Expectations.” Accessed 1/2/2020.

The views expressed on third party pages linked from this blog post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of GreenSky, LLC, its management, or subsidiary companies.