Tradie tips: How to manage your clients’ expectations

Between painting a perfect porch for Percy, redecorating Rhonda's living room and carving out a new kitchen space for Carla, trade jobs can quickly become overwhelming. 

There are only 24 hours in a day, and not all of these can be used to get the job done. You do need sleep and your downtime, after all!

However, if you're aware of a few tricks to manage your clients' expectations when completing renovations or interior design work, you may find that running a trade business is a lot more streamlined and manageable.

1. Set boundaries

The thought of taking on a massive job may be promising. If you nail the job, you may secure future work in a similar vein. Big, complex jobs may also be promising when it comes to payment, too.

However, if you dive in too deep, you could severely damage your brand. There's nothing worse than someone committing to something that they're simply not capable of doing.

Understand what your skill set is as well as your time availability. You'll be able to set boundaries accordingly to ensure you deliver on your promises.

2. Understand your niche

Whether you're doing minor repairs and renovations for multiple clients or prefer to work on a project-by-project basis will depend on your own circumstances and work ethic.

You might be known as the go-to tradesperson in your area for small jobs on an emergency basis. If you're the kind of person who likes plenty of variety and are skilled at an array of small tasks, such an approach could be a good for your trade business.

Alternatively, you might prefer to work with just one or two clients on significant building or trade projects. Being able to offer an end-to-end service (or at least having go-to contractors for other elements of home renovations) allows you to build close relationships with your clients.

If you're accustomed to completing lots of small jobs but over-commit yourself to big projects, you may struggle to meet clients' expectations. Big projects can be slow-burning, but that doesn't mean you can't be attentive.

Meanwhile, clients who need emergency repairs will rely on your availability – they'll be sorely disappointed if you're unable to attend to their homes for a fortnight, because you're busy laying foundations elsewhere.

Understand your niche and take on clients accordingly. Everyone will be a lot happier – you included!

3. Explain challenges

It's important to explain potential pitfalls to clients as early as possible, and in language they understand.

For instance, if you're having trouble sourcing materials from a supplier, don't cross your fingers and hope for the best. Call the client as soon as the issue arises, explain your predicament and offer a solution. In this example, you could either chase up the supplier and aim to re-commence the work within a week or you could opt to source materials from a totally new provider.

If you stick with your existing provider and hope for a positive outcome, you can be fairly confident that the materials will be of the standard you're accustomed to – if they arrive, of course. By contrast, you may be hesitant to deal with a new supplier, in case the materials aren't up to scratch – but such an option could save the day and ensure your client is happy. 

Challenges are bound to arise when working as a tradesperson. Tackle tricky issues head on – don't ignore them.

If a project is going to be delayed, your client's costs are going to increase or additional council consent is required, inform them straight away. By keeping clients involved throughout the process, you'll find it a lot easier to manage their expectations.

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