Being a general contractor is rewarding, but it comes with plenty of challenges. One of the biggest challenges facing general contractors, or even those who specialize like kitchen cabinet contractors, is building trust with their clients. That trust, however, is vital for both your short-term and long-term sales and success.
Fortunately, you can do a few simple things to speed up the relationship- and trust-building process. From communication tactics to business strategies, these tips will help you start building the relationship before you even meet a potential client and reinforce the value of your offer to a client.
Simple Ways to Communicate to Build Trust
Talking with people may seem natural and you may find talking with potential clients is no problem. Yet, they don’t all agree to the work you propose. Or perhaps once you start work, problems arise. Avoid these situations by following these simple tips on client communication:
- Be honest. Don’t sugarcoat or underestimate the work or cost that’s needed to do the work. “Tell it like it is” and if it doesn’t work out, then you both may be sparing each other headaches.
- Follow up. A big client complaint of GCs is they didn’t follow up. You’re busy, sure, but getting back to potential clients in a timely manner goes a long way to building trust.
- Set realistic expectations. This includes the cost of the job, the time it will take to do it and establishing how and when you will communicate with each other during the project.
When you set these expectations with every client, you’ll find the next two steps on the business side of building trust become a lot easier!
Leveraging Client Reviews to Build Trust
In addition to these communication tips, remember that social proof is a big factor in client decision making. A 2017 BrightLocal survey reported:
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 49% of consumers want to see a 4-star rating to choose a business.
- Consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business.
Fortunately, the same survey noted that 68% of consumers left a business review when asked!
There’s a big opportunity here for contractors to build trust when they’re not even present. But it does take a little work. Here’s what to do.
Have a Portfolio Ready
When you’re proposing work, you want potential clients to see your best work. While a fine finish and a great looking kitchen, for example, may show the quality of your workmanship, positive comments from clients that say it was a good experience reassure your prospect that getting there won’t be a journey full of headaches.
To build a great portfolio, include at a minimum:
- Before and after pictures
- A client testimonial connected to those pictures
- A small description of the project
- Online resources (reviews) the prospect can check out to do further “homework”
Generate Positive Online Reviews
Sites like Angie’s List and Home Advisor can be great tools for general contractors, if they manage them. Plus, Google reviews influence search results. This means the more good reviews you have, the more likely you are to be found when someone local does a search for your services.
Here are four things you can do to increase the number of reviews you get and start building trust with potential clients before they even contact you:
- Build a process. Managing reviews can quickly become a low priority for a general contractor. To avoid this, you need a plan and a process. Decide when you will ask customers for a review and how (by phone, email, paper survey, etc.). If you have a sales team, make it a job responsibility and attach incentives—for example, set a time once a month to review results with your team.
- Know where customers go for reviews. According to the BrightLocal survey, Yelp and Facebook are the most trusted review sites. Google and BBB.org are also important. Having a presence on these sites is vital. A lot of local business websites also include places for reviews. Know where your customers go so you can be there.
- Ask. Having a process in place to reach out to every client is important, but it needs to be implemented. As the BrightLocal survey showed, the majority of your clients will be happy to provide a review.
- Save time by using software. An application like Reputation Stacker simplifies the asking and management of reviews, so you can get the best reviews posted and address customers who may have been less than satisfied.