We've dealt with many contractors over the years - including defending and prosecuting them in disputes and lawsuits around the country. Here are 7 tips to help avoid trouble and be more successful:
1. Put it in writing. Be it a formal contract, a summarizing letter agreement, or confirming email(s), make sure the essential terms of the relationship between you and your client/customer are memorialized in writing. At a minimum include start and completion dates (if its a best estimate, call it that), price and payment schedule, who pays costs and when, who to contact and how if there are questions or problems, and the procedure for making changes to the project. If it ain't in writing, it ain't.
2. Provide status reports. Periodically and routinely let the client know how work is going and things generally are progressing. Emails and phone calls are best. Give them the good, bad and ugly so as realistically to manage expectations. Consider providing in writing a midway "half-time report," summarizing what's been done, paid for, what remains, changes to completion dates, etc.
3. Lead from the front. Show up frequently and set a good example. Nothing beats enabling the client (and your own employees and workers) to see you - the main person, head honcho, owner etc. - on the job site, especially doing some of the physical work. Leave your phone in the truck.
4. Keep your promises and follow through. Everything you say to a client (or an employee) sounds like or will be viewed as a promise, so communicate and act accordingly. Things can derail fast when someone thinks you are not delivering. Follow through without having to be nagged about it.
5. Clean up. Leaving a mess means leaving the job unfinished. Clean up as you go and don't wait until the very end (or worse, to be told to clean up). This is a good step to combine with #3 above.
6. Accept responsibility. Fix problems, discussing up front who should pay for it or share in the cost if other than you. Make things right promptly. Don't blame your employees or workers.
7. Communicate. Keep the client informed, even if its just a quick text message. For example, if you need to reschedule a work day, an employee is sick, you are out getting materials, you received their installment check, etc. Silence breeds suspicion and "worst case scenarios." Frequent, timely communication is the single most important tip for helping ensure smooth relationships, repeat business, and referrals.
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If you need help, call us here at Sanderson Law, P.C. We've been helping people and businesses for nearly 30 years. 303-444-8846.