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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry for the complaining fellas but that past 2 years things have gotten completely out of hand. I run a small painting and remodeling business. I employ 4 painters, a carpenter and sometimes an apprentice. Here is my issue.

On the carpentry end of things they expect instantaneous contact, prices, and updates on work that hasn't even been contracted or finalized. On the work that is finalized or in beginning stages of production, out conversations go pretty much ignored. As in "these windows will take about 4 weeks to get to our supplier. I ordered them last week, I will check back in a week or so with our supplier and let you know when they are due in". Usually within 10-12 days I will get a call or email asking about a start date an usually that it has been quite a while since they have ordered the windows and really wanted to get going on the project etc....

Same deal with decks and kitchens etc. Once I have the job and we begin discussing plans and honing in on scope for the project, we get the what is the schedule when can we get to permitting etc.

This may not be coming out right. The customers aren't asking from a standpoint of what do we do next or where do we go from here. I am getting the feeling almost constantly that people thing we can go from a nice to meet you to a completed 40,000 porch over a long weekend.

How do you guys both set and more importantly keep your customers expectations in check both before and during the project?

P.S. I do not promise over the moon type timelines. In fact I refuse to work on deadlines and tell customers constantly the things that are out of my hands and when we can do nothing but wait. I.E. Cabinet orders, permit approvals, inspections, custom orders and so on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's my point. My underselling and constant explanation of best case/worst case timelines falls on deaf ears with 30-50% of my customers. When I say the windows won't be in until at least May 9th their next question is "how are we looking for a May 12th completion?" This is after I have told them "I don't like to set firm dates until our supplier physically has the windows in the warehouse. Once they are here in Massachusetts I will set up a time with you to do the install. The install from start to finish will take 3 days."

I have noticed the past few years my spelled out timelines go in one ear and out the other and my customers appear to be shocked that things don't run like an episode of "Flip this house."
 

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That's my point. My underselling and constant explanation of best case/worst case timelines falls on deaf ears with 30-50% of my customers. When I say the windows won't be in until at least May 9th their next question is "how are we looking for a May 12th completion?" This is after I have told them "I don't like to set firm dates until our supplier physically has the windows in the warehouse. Once they are here in Massachusetts I will set up a time with you to do the install. The install from start to finish will take 3 days."

I have noticed the past few years my spelled out timelines go in one ear and out the other and my customers appear to be shocked that things don't run like an episode of "Flip this house."
Send them a gantt chart.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Send them a gantt chart.
Has this worked for you in the past? Does anyone give and go over with their customers from day one how the project is going to go? (This I already do) And how do you handle them when out of the blue their timeline expectations change drastically? Or am I just on a streak of odd situations right now?
 

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I think it depends on the customer.

Boston, Newton, Wellesley, those types of clients don't even
hear what we say. It's all about them.

Take the time to explain it again.

I've noticed it happens more and more also.

Maybe its because the BRUINS are playing.........
 

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1. setup a webpage that requires a login with schedule updates
2. email updates
3. text updates
4. mail updates
5. give them a handout that explains how your scheduling works
6. look close at your presentation to see if you are creating these issues
7. set expectations about how often you will provide project and special order updates
8. implement a once per ___days update of all outstanding project customer on time line
9. implement impatience as part of your qualifying process
10. adopt a new and improved attitude about it

I get it. but that is pretty much all you can do.
 

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Has this worked for you in the past? Does anyone give and go over with their customers from day one how the project is going to go? (This I already do) And how do you handle them when out of the blue their timeline expectations change drastically? Or am I just on a streak of odd situations right now?
I don't do it because it's not a problem for me. I put everything in writing, even if I call someone I send them an email synopsis. Communication is key.
 

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Send them a gantt chart.
I have gantt charts on all the projects I run and from that I can run an activity report that lists it all out for them if they want it.

Careful scheduling (takes lots of time), promises from your suppliers (sometimes flaky), and a schedule are important for both cash flow and collecting progress payments at milestones.

The items that are truly out of your control should be covered via a clause in your contract.

My paperwork is nutso perfect and even though the schedule might be sitting right there on their kitchen counter, they still ask since it's easier for them to do so.

Pretty typical issue on a remodel and there is no changing people.
 

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im getting this as a sub from GC's pretty much as standard practice now days

i used to get a contract signed, order fixtures and then start in 4 weeks..

now i get a contract signed and am expected to start in 7 days....i do it....over and over...i found a large fixture supplier that can deliver quickly most of the time....but when something is not in stock its a huge deal.....'what i have to wait 4 weeks for a tub?''

homeowners take 6 months to make a decision...then when they finally say yes they want you there next week.....it IS difficult to deal with, but i do

the way i deal with it is i am never booked more than 7 days out....when i get booked 8 or 9 days then i know i have to work 10-12 hour days or weekends to catch back up... its been working for me for 2 years now since i adopted the policy...all my builders know to give me at least 7 days notice....

still get some with 24 hour notice though...sometimes they work out, sometimes they dont
 

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I don't see this as bad problem to have....clients contacting you about their project. Each time they do this is an opportunity for you to continue to build a favorable relationship with them.

To be proactive, you may want to call or email each of your clients with a status report each week. Let's them know what is happening with their project.

Homeowners have heard all these scams and stories in the media about bad contractors, perhaps these clients are just looking for reassurance. Here is recent article to help protect homeowners from contractor scams http://www.cincinnati.com/story/new...spring-brings-home-improvement-scams/7659127/
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all the replies. I think I will take some time and try to put a basic process on paper and start walking the customer through the timeline both before and during the project. To be fair to myself, I do contact our customers weekly during the lead up to the project then I am in contact at least once daily while the project is. being produced.

Its not so much the communication that is bothering me, its more that all my efforts, estimating, and trying to stick to timelines and budgets goes south when someone changes their mind and is shocked that this could change, budget, time etc.

Thanks guys I will work on my process.
 

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its more that all my efforts, estimating, and trying to stick to timelines and budgets goes south when someone changes their mind and is shocked that this could change, budget, time etc.
This is part of our Change Order process that we do via our project management software. The CO spells out both the change in budget and the change in timeline. That way it is clearly in writing prior to the HO signing off on the CO electronically.
 

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'what i have to wait 4 weeks for a tub?''

homeowners take 6 months to make a decision...then when they finally say yes they want you there next week
That's the part of construction that really cracks me up sometimes. A HO will make a change, in the middle of a job, and order something handmade from Italy. They'll wait 6 months for it, and then expect (demand) you there 2 days later to install it. What about MY schedule?? Sometimes I just want to smack some people :laughing:
 

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I have a customer in a big hurry to finish construction after several changes but they have not made a final decision on half of the special orders but are too busy to meet for the next five days.

This thread is "impatient/unrealistic customers"

That's a bit off. It's more like "stupid/clueless/narcissistic/airhead customers that could't buy a phucking clue or two brain cells to rub together"
 

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No one gets my schedule, atleast in residential. Its operational, not the homeowners worry. I give the expected week of every draw and selection deadlines.
 

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No one gets my schedule, atleast in residential. Its operational, not the homeowners worry. I give the expected week of every draw and selection deadlines.
Same here. I don't need to add another layer of questions.
 

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Ive actually only had one guy who made a big deal about it. I fired him before we started. He kept saying his son (huge commercial PM) says I should use this not that, provide a copy of the schedule ect....


Go get your son to build it, pal.
 
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