Building Rapport with Customers

No business survives long without repeat customers. Earn your customers’ respect and trust by building rapport, and they will stick with you through good and bad times. Your business will thrive, and your good reputation will bring more work and higher margin jobs.

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

What exactly is rapport? 

“A relationship characterized by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy.” — Merriam-Webster Dictionary 

The concept may be simple to understand, but building rapport with customers takes effort, intentionality and time to achieve. 

  • Relationship. Before a customer enters a business relationship with you, they have to know they can trust you. They expect you to stand by your word and even go above and beyond the minimal requirements of a bid. Be dependable, on time, face up to problems and seek solutions immediately. If the plans for a project call for unnecessary work, point it out to the customer. Show them where you can save them money. Be upfront about change orders, but don’t be stingy. 

  • Agreement. People like doing business with people they like. But don’t, as some business books suggest, mimic the style or personality of your customer (sometimes called behavior mirroring). That can come off as phony, if not a little creepy. If your customer is reserved and formal and you are more gregarious, don’t come on too strong, and vice versa. Be yourself, accept people for who they are. 

  • Mutual understanding. Some of the best teamwork comes from people with different personalities who understand and appreciate each other’s differences. As you get to know your customer, spend some time thinking about their point of view in the world, their experience, strengths and weaknesses, and how your strengths and weaknesses can mesh with theirs to the benefit of both of you. 

  • Easy communication. Some people are articulate and detailed in conversation. Others do better with email or written forms. Be aware of your customer’s style and preferences and make sure to ask for clarification any time there is doubt. At the end of discussions, it’s always a good idea to summarize the details to ensure the client understands you.


Construction has always had boom and bust cycles and always will. Most businesses can do well during boom times, but if you want to survive the busts, or if you want to increase your margins in the good times, you need loyal customers with whom you have a great rapport.

Good rapport can overcome some pain points, such as:

  • When hard times hit, loyal customers are more likely to work with you to overcome problems. 

  • If you do make a mistake, correcting a wrong is easier when you have a good rapport with the customer.

Some examples of growth opportunities good rapport brings:

  • Word of mouth advertising is the best marketing in the world. When one banker, one property developer, one municipal official or engineer says, “Hey, I really like this company, you should use them,” you can’t buy a better recommendation than that.

  • Having a sizeable group of satisfied and enthusiastic customers allows you to choose the best jobs. You can afford to turn down jobs where the margins are slim or the customers difficult. 

  • As your rapport with customers grows, so does your reputation. Employees hate to be put in the middle of disagreements between the supervisor and the customer. But if your client comes to the jobsite with praise for you, your people and your operation, that can be a huge boost to employee retention and a pipeline to new customers.

Building rapport is just the beginning. You’ll also want to work on building trust. See our tips.


Explore ways to protect your budgets, conserve fuel and stay current on industry trends.



Once You Own, You're In

Gain unlimited access to must-know information about your machine. Find ideas you can put to work on the job right away, including business insights.