By Matt Doyle, VP and co-founder of Excel Builders, a truly unique custom home builder, creating homes that make every day easier.
It can take a lot of practice to learn to handle long projects well. It’s possible to train your team to manage them well, but what about the clients who are on the other side? If this is the first time they’ve ever collaborated with a team on a long-term project, how do they learn what to expect?
This is something I often have to confront in the custom home building business. Your clients will not always have experience with the stresses involved with seeing a long project through to completion. Part of your job is helping them manage, and there are ways you can do it better.
Understand What They’re Experiencing
To make long projects more manageable for clients, start by thinking about where their stress might come from in a long project.
Is it part of a larger plan that they need to put in place? Are they investing a significant amount of their resources? A lot of things will be on their mind. Based on what you know about your clients, you should try to predict what’s going to cause them stress so that you can actively look for ways to manage it.
Solutions might involve segmenting the project into more manageable chunks, discussing insurance options for peace of mind or other options that fit the circumstances.
While the stressors will be different for every project, one that seems to affect everyone is the stress of waiting. I think you can manage that one easily if you start in the planning phase and build in helpful checkpoints.
Start In The Planning Phase And Build In Checkpoints
Starting when you first plan the project, build in checkpoints that allow your team to report results on a regular schedule. Every week (or month), prepare and send a short report that lets your client know what checkpoints have been accomplished.
This helps clients experience the long project as a series of weekly victories rather than long waits interrupted by long (perhaps intimidatingly long) descriptions of completed work.
While it’s important to note checkpoints on a weekly or monthly basis, you should also make time to highlight the major jumps forward that happen in the project. I call these milestones, and I think they’re a reason to celebrate
Highlight And Celebrate Major Milestones
One way you can make long projects easier to handle is by highlighting and celebrating the big milestones. You can punctuate these occasions with small gifts (depending on your budget), but sometimes even just a showcase of what’s ready can excite and reassure your clients.
For example, in my industry, it can be great to invite clients to the build site when we’ve finished major parts like the foundation, frame or exterior build. Just letting clients see that their vision is starting to take shape in reality can resolve a lot of doubts.
It goes without saying that not all clients will need or want this level of support. Some have a lot of experience with long projects and will lay out what kind of expectations they have for communication.
Make Long Projects More Manageable For Clients
By following a few helpful practices, you can help make projects a lot more manageable for clients who don’t have experience with them. Take a moment to consider possible sources of stress during the project, plan around providing checkpoints that can reassure your clients and celebrate the big milestones.
Use what you know to make your next project easier on your next big client.
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