An amazing thing happened in 2011. Twitter users in Washington, D.C., tweeted news of an earthquake as it was happening, warning folks in New York City 30 seconds before they even felt it.
It is a truly incredible age we live in thanks to technology. Never has information and communication traveled so fast, so feverishly, as it does in today’s world. This age of instant communication works in favor of decorative concrete professionals who comprehend the impact it has on their professional success. No longer will customers accept not knowing. No longer will decision-makers accept a nonverbal way of doing business.
The loss of revenue derived from poor communication is inestimable. It is imperative for you, as someone making a living in the decorative concrete community, to realize how communication has changed our way of doing business and then, more importantly, fully understand how to use it as a tool.
Let’s discuss how keeping in touch, or not, impacts every decorative project from start to finish. If you are reading this and wondering why your business is not making what you feel it should, then please pay very close attention.
Ten percent of each workday should be spent keeping in touch with your customers in some way. The proverbial daily fires that contractors dread fighting often stem from inadequate communication. Have you ever shown up on a job and it wasn’t ready for you and your crew? Have you ever arrived to start a project you believed was yours only to find someone else working on it? In an age of email, texting, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, instant messaging and smartphones, something like this should never, and I mean never, happen.
Has a product ever held up a project, costing you time, anxiety and profit? This, too, will no longer frequently happen when modern technology is implemented.
After nearly three decades in the decorative concrete profession, I can assure readers of one certainty: customers worry when they don’t hear from contractors. Their minds drift into the doubting abyss as they question their decision to use your services. They wonder if you still have them on the schedule or placed their material order. They wonder how much their latest change request will cost or if you realize their HOA won’t allow work commencement before 7 a.m. And they worry over a dozen other things, unnecessarily, and it’s all because of poor communication that is most often no one’s fault but ours as contractors. If you desire to be the best, not to mention most profitable, decorative concrete company in your city, stay in touch with your clients.
Customers love knowing what’s happening. That peace of mind makes a customer want to use your services again and, better yet, tell everyone they know about your professionalism. Daily updates build trust. Trust is the foundation of building a decorative empire. Trust is what makes your customer pay in a timely fashion, and trust is why you’re given the stage to showcase your artistic talent. Trust is why a customer will give you free rein to express what you know will make their project look stellar and worthy of a Concrete Decor cover.
My company will request all communication be transcribed instead of verbal. Verbal communication is easily forgotten or misinterpreted. Written communication is timeless and holds all parties accountable. If a customer calls my cell phone to confirm a color choice, I let her know our company policy will not allow order placement without an email confirmation. An email confirmation is insurance, and it’s also useful if the customer decides to add more matching decorative concrete in the future.
Written communication clears the air regarding project cost overruns and monetary extras that so often plague the construction industry. Show your client the extra cost before commencement and ask him or her to confirm acceptance. Disagreements at the end of the project over additional costs are the number one reason for customer dissatisfaction. All because of poor communication.
You must stay in touch internally as well. Each employee should be able to visually see schedule updates, inventory updates, delivery updates, weather updates, project changes and more. This information should move quickly and not be distracting. In other words, a schedule change made over a weekend could be nothing more than a shared email that employees check sometime before Monday morning.
All communication should be confirmed by the employee. A simple “got it” is all it takes.
Your material suppliers must also fall into lock step with this new policy of perpetual communication. This means material orders and updated correspondence is written, never verbal. If your supply person won’t follow this protocol, find one who will, immediately. The times they are a-changing, my friend, and we must embrace this wonderful opportunity we have to instantly and consistently communicate.
Nothing will impact the future of your business like technology. Sure, products and materials are constantly improving but even this advancement pales compared to the ability to quickly, accurately and consistently share information with your decorative concrete team and clients.