Your phone rings for the third time in an hour. It’s your client, asking for an update on their house renovation. They want to know what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and how much longer it’s going to take. While it’s tempting to throw your phone into a cement mixer to avoid the frustration, you’ll get better results by learning how to handle clients who like to micromanage your work.
Put It in The Contract
Head off any attempts at micromanaging by putting a clause in your client’s contract for how and when you’ll communicate progress updates. Having it written, signed and notarized means you’ll be able to remind pushy clients that you’ll get back to them when it’s appropriate – anything else you decide to offer above and beyond that is at your discretion. For example, you might give an update to a client who is staying in-home while you remodel their guest bedroom before you leave for the day. Or you might check in on them and let them know you’re popping out to the store, just so they know to expect the door opening.
Be Firm, But Respectful
Remind micromanaging clients that the more time you spend communicating progress to them, the less progress you’ll make. If you have nothing in your contract about how and when you’ll communicate progress, make a note to yourself to do so moving forward and try to handle your current client with grace and assertiveness.
For clients that stop by to check for themselves how it’s going rather than texting, e-mailing or calling you, remind your client that their presence on the job site is a liability. It’s a safety hazard for them and for your crew. Ask that they leave a message on your voicemail to be returned when you can safely do so to buy yourself some breathing room.
Decline Work When Necessary
Sometimes you’ll know right away when a client is a micromanaging, type A-personality. In those instances, it may be worth declining the job rather than agreeing to a job and locking yourself into a contract that obligates you to deal with constant check-ins and demands for progress. Be respectful and don’t offer excuses as to why you’re declining the job. Offer a referral to another contractor, thank them for their interest and move on. Do not let yourself be bullied into giving a reason or negotiating to take on a job you know you’ll hate.
You’re the Professional
Your clients hire you for your skill, yes, but also your professional experience and expertise. If you have a client who wants to control every aspect of the job right down to the type of nails you use, go ahead and remind them that this is what you do best and that’s why they trusted you with the improvement or integrity of their building. Some clients are over-eager to make their dream become a reality and forget that your knowledge, experience, and skill mean you really do know what you’re doing.
Dealing with Micromanaging Clients
Remind clients who the boss is – even though they might be signing the paycheck, you’re providing a valuable service and all the knowledge, experience and skill that entails. Agree to give progress reports at intervals and in ways that are agreeable to both of you – have something in place in the contract before you start, if possible. If you think the client might be unbearable before you start, it may be worth declining the job rather than trying to deal with it. No matter how you deal with micromanaging clients, it requires professionalism, tact, and assertiveness.