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It may sound like a cliché, but a culture of handshake deals and “my word is my bond” still prevails in construction. To succeed you must know how to build and maintain this kind of trust. For contractors, a successful project starts with earning the client's confidence. Here are ways to build trust and maintain the relationship with your customers.
Estimated read time: 4 minutes
There are two types of people: those you can trust and those you can’t … or who haven’t yet earned your trust. And when you think about the people you trust — whether they're family, friends or business partners — you know how much value there is in a trusting relationship. Building trust with customers is a huge part of success in any business.
People today are wary of scams, half-truths and people professing what they don’t know. How many online videos have you watched where it was obvious that the presenter didn’t know enough to claim to be an expert?
Your customers can waste a lot of time trying to find a reputable source for answers. If they don’t come to you first, they may accept an inferior solution when you could have offered them something better — and more profitable for both of you.
Trust boils down to simply this: a series of honest and positive impressions and responses to customer questions and requests over a long period of time. Consistency is the key. Few people will trust you completely at first, but you can build equity with every positive impression. A few things to keep in mind:
Don’t oversell your capabilities. If you don’t have the expertise or the machine or the time for the customer’s job, be upfront about that. That kind of honesty is rare, but it will likely pay big dividends in the future, and you never want to oversell and underdeliver.
Don’t sell the customer what they want if what they want isn’t right. If the drawings or plans are over-engineered help them find a less expensive solution. Conversely, if their plans are under-engineered and to do the job right is going to be more expensive, tell them. Be sure to bring plenty of numbers to validate your choice.
Follow up and ask for feedback during and after the job. A friendly “just checking in” call on a Friday afternoon will put your customer at ease and potentially ahead of problems. Find out how it’s going — and if it’s not going as planned, fix the problem and reestablish that trust.
Be honest, even when it means a difficult conversation. Mistakes can only be corrected by honesty, and if something does not get corrected in a timely manner, when the customer finds out they’re going to wonder why you didn’t tell them sooner.
Provide the highest quality service possible throughout your organization. It’s some people’s nature to talk negatively, but they usually don’t mean it. But to a customer this can raise red flags. Be sure everybody who interacts with the customer has some sales training and presents a positive, can-do, helpful attitude around customers. In front of a customer everyone should have their game face on. This includes mechanics, technicians, supervisors, administrators, estimators and drivers, even your subcontractors.
Construction equipment sales are more dependent on personal relationships than just about any other business. Good relationships with your customers and project owners can easily span decades if not whole careers. If your customers can trust your advice, then your efforts will invariably save them time and improve the efficiency of their operations.
If you’re that trusted adviser on all things construction, you take a big load off their shoulders and set them up to be more successful. If they trust you, they’ll come to you first and will likely give you preferential treatment on bids. If you help them succeed, they’ll help you succeed.
Building trust is only part of the path toward positive customer experience. You’ll also want to work on building rapport. See our tips.
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