Everybody has a little trouble sometimes. But doesn’t it seem like contractors deal with a whole heap of trouble? There are so many moving parts to being a general contractor that it seems like there’s always something happening. From managing client expectations to inventory issues, we’ve got some help coming your way. Here’s some useful information to address difficulties every general contractor deals with.
One of the most difficult aspects of being a general contractor is not managing a crew — it’s managing client expectations. Every client, especially difficult customers, will come in with a different set of biases and expectations for what will happen on their next home improvement project. Your job as a contractor is to manage those expectations and bring them into the realm of reality with an aim to meet or exceed them upon project completion. Make sure that you are listening to what your client is saying, so that you have a thorough understanding of their hopes and dreams for their project. Also be sure to communicate clearly and honestly about what you expect to be able to deliver. It’s absolutely possible to keep your clients, even the difficult customers, happy if you actively work to manage their expectations.
Another challenge for general contractors can be in finding and keeping good workers. Oftentimes, general contractors can initially hire enough workers only to find that they leave before a job is completed, or they aren’t as skilled as the job requires, particularly for seasonal help. There are some simple tips that you can try to remedy this difficulty for general contractors. Make sure your job description is detailed and specific. List required skills and experience to ensure that you’re attracting the right kind of applicant. Consider offering incentives like a completion bonus for the completion of building projects. Don’t hesitate to require (and check) references while also paying close attention to an applicant’s attitude during their interview. Set your expectations high so that you can find high-quality employees.
In terms of difficulties that every general contractor deals with plus difficult customers, the DIYers often rank in both categories. One of the challenges in taking on a client who is a DIYer lies in convincing them of your qualifications. Most general contractors have come in contact with these clients who start their own home improvement projects thinking they can do it all themselves. Then when they get in over their heads, they reach out to a professional for help. These clients usually need a little nudge to understand why hiring a professional is actually in their best interest. That’s where the challenging part comes in.
You’ll want to highlight your expertise and explain why your experience is a strong point, while also making them feel like they’ve made the right choice in hiring you. Encourage them by explaining all the ways they may actually save money because you are good at what you do. There’s less room for error because of your experience, and you’ve already found the best methods to complete the tasks. It’s also possible for the clients to avoid bureaucratic hold ups since the contractor will be the one who handles permits and inspections.
A general contractor with years of experience can anticipate problems and recognize and prevent safety hazards that a DIYer may not even know exists. Emphasize the importance of safety and how much more efficient their project will be with you as their professional. Make sure they know their money is well spent.
Continuing in the vein of difficult customers, another difficulty you may face as a general contractor is the picky customer. You’ve very likely experienced that client who wants to micro-manage every aspect of every job on their project, and it’s exhausting. We recommend leaning into your customer service skills on this one.
Consider your client and the experiences that he or she may have had in the past. It’s possible they’ve had a bad contractor before, and they don’t want to get burned again. So put their mind at ease, and make sure you consult with them clearly and often. Offer lines of communication that are always open, and let them know you want to satisfy their expectations. Make it your goal to get on their good side.
And, inevitably, when it all just becomes too much, take the space you need to see the situation clearly and remain calm and professional. You cannot please everyone, but you can always act with professionalism and integrity.
And, finally, you’ll encounter those pesky inventory issues. When you add more jobs to your docket, your inventory needs can become more complex, which can lead to an increase in inventory issues. This is one contractor difficulty you’d like to avoid, and one that you can at least manage well.
Consider using software management systems to keep your inventory lists up to date, so that you always know what you have and what you don’t. Also, consider creating a schedule that works for you to check in on your actual inventory. Implement a regular supply check time that works for your particular business set up. We’re thinking weekly or monthly checks are reasonable enough to keep you in the know, so you can avoid any unnecessary hiccups in your inventory availability.
You could also consider having more than one supplier. In the event that your regular supply source runs out or doesn’t have the particular supplies you need, it’s great to have a back up. Make sure you’re constantly networking with materials providers and subcontractors to have the best chance of getting what you need when you’re in a pinch. Reach out to others in your business, so you can help each other out. You never know when you’ll be able to return a favor.
General contracting is just one of those professions that has the potential for specific challenges to come up. These are difficulties every contractor deals with. You know what isn’t one of those difficulties, though? Providing exceptional financing to your clients. Offering customer financing through HFS Financial is actually incredibly simple with our 60-second loan application. You can give us a call today at 1-800-254-9560 to partner with us for the best financing available. At HFS Financial, “You Dream It, We Finance It.”