Tell me if this sounds familiar. You are working hard every day, managing every intricate detail of your client’s project according to the standards they set, but the client still seems to be irritated with you. Chances are their frustration has very little to do with the actual project, but more with the communication regarding the project.
It is time consuming to manage every aspect of the project and inspect every aspect for quality. As a result, clear and effective communication with your client can seem more of a hassle than a requirement. To help, here are five easy ways to keep your client up to date.
1. Obtain expectations
Before any project communication with your client occurs, it is important to understand how your client receives and processes information. Questions to consider:
– Does your client prefer visual communication?
– Does your client prefer bullet point lists?
– What are the most important aspects of this project to your client?
The answers will dictate how you communicate the project status. If your client is more interested in the framing rather than the electrical aspect of the project, then you will communicate project status from the basis of framed walls and readiness for drywall, rather than when electrical boxes are set and wire pulled.
2. Create Milestones
In case you are unfamiliar, milestones are the important aspects of the project. These are often important task completion items that effect what is called your critical path. For instance, pouring the concrete pad for a home is a critical path item in building the home.
Creating these milestones, discussing their importance with your client, and giving them specific dates will allow your client to understand the projects progression without confusion.
3. Daily Reports
Creating a daily report and sending it to your client, whether through a phone application or by email, will allow your client to see the projects progression from day-to-day. It is a great method because it alleviates concerns that often arise from a lack of knowledge.
You will utilize, in your daily report, what you have learned about your client’s preferences for receiving information. If your client prefers visual rather than written communication, then your daily reports will emphasize pictures of the project. If your client, however, prefers verbal communication, then your bullet point lists will be much more detailed.
Be sure to update your client, in these daily reports, on the status of milestone completion.
4. Keep an updated schedule
Your client is going to want to know both the projected finish date and what will be completed in the upcoming weeks. For this, you will want to keep two updated schedules: One, a master schedule and, two, a two-week look-ahead schedule.
The master schedule is your overall schedule. It will have broad task items listed that are driving toward completion of the overall project.
A two-week look-ahead schedule is exactly what it sounds like; it is a schedule that details work to be completed within the next two weeks. It is much more detailed than the master schedule, but task items are driven toward the milestones for effective communication.
5. Bi-Weekly Site Visits
Set up regular, bi-weekly, site visits with your client. I suggest bi-weekly because there will be enough progression on the project within two week periods of time for your client to have a real sense of the progression of the project.
Site visits are a good time to discuss potential schedule delays, change orders, or missing details for the project. With the potential issue literally in front of your client, the conversation will be less confusing and more productive then if attempted through email, text message, or phone.
It is important to keep your client up to date on the progression of their project. Neglecting this task, even if for seemingly good reasons, will result in a dissatisfied client and frustrating project. Following these five items will ensure your client is sufficiently up to date.