Tips for Building Contractors: A Guide to Effective Communication
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As a contractor, you know that your job is a complicated process that involves a wide range of tasks and dealing with people throughout the course of the job. Your knowledge of what materials to use, proper construction methods, safety, and how to dispose of, or recycle, construction waste, is an important asset to bring to the table. You know when it’s too cold to pour concrete, why a plumber should install a P-trap under the sink and how long caulk needs to cure before it’s painted. You’ve got a major advantage that the client doesn’t always have - you’ve done this before.
However, while your expertise and knowledge are key - the way that you communicate in business is just as important in helping you keep clients, improve sales and generally make your project more efficient. In light of this, it’s necessary to have good communication skills that will lead to a clear, mutual understanding between all parties. Here, we’ll equip you with some tools to help you up your communication game, handle conflict constructively and build relationships, not just “build a house”.
7 Keys to Effective Business Communication
1. Clarity. Communicating with clarity is extremely important when it comes to any interaction with your client. Convey what you need to, in the simplest way possible. Use common language instead of industry slang that your client may not easily understand.
Many business relationships operate under assumptions and, whilst this might work for a while, in the long run, it’s better for all sides to openly communicate your needs and expectations. This way there can be fewer misunderstandings, which can later lead to problems. Do you foresee a delay in the project? Don’t put off telling your client, and make sure you explain why their renovations or new roof might take longer than expected, for example.
2. Find the right time and place to talk. Communication doesn't work well when there are distractions or constant interruptions. Try to find a quiet place, slightly off-site, where you can easily hear one another. Set up regular weekly or monthly calls to discuss how on track you are with building plans and home design, and make time to talk if there's a problem that needs to be resolved.
3. Listen first. The biggest communication killer is the failure to listen, without interruption. Listening conveys the clear message that you’re all working to find a mutually acceptable solution. First, listen to your client, absorb what’s being communicated and formulate a solution that combines both of your interests. If there's a problem, simply describe it, its impact and then explain what can be done to best resolve the issue. Listen first, talk last.
4. Ask questions. Questions confirm understanding and help you gain feedback. They show that you're listening, and care. When you combine listening with asking relevant questions, you open up a powerful, two-way business communication between you and your client.
5. Listen to what’s not being said. Nonverbal signals/body language are part of communication - crossed arms, clenched jaw, avoiding eye contact - these are all indications that someone isn’t comfortable or happy about what’s being communicated, even if their words say otherwise. Also pay attention to your tone of voice. Maintain an open posture to show that you’re listening but, if you notice closed body language, it might be a better option to break first and talk later.
6. Consistency and trust. Effective communication is always active and you will need to keep the channels of communication open. Consistency is vital. If you make an appointment, keep it and be on time. If you say you’re going to complete a section of the project by a certain date, make sure you do or communicate timeously. People are unlikely to trust you if you’re consistently inconsistent with your words and actions, and trust is vital for getting your message across in any context.
7. Be patient. Communication is important and it’s also difficult at times. It allows for differences, but it doesn’t eliminate them. Ultimately, good business communication is about strengthening relationships. Being able to effectively communicate is the best way to engage with people in a way that accomplishes your business goals and enhances the quality of your relationships throughout the build.
With the tools of listening in your proverbial power belt, you can go further than the competition and enjoy better relationships with your clients. Want to add your name to the list of Binastore contractors? Click here to register now, or keep viewing our blog for more tips for building contractors.