If you’re in residential construction, one of the most challenging parts of the process can be interacting with displeased homeowners. It is easy for tensions to rise when your work is called into question. However, reacting to your frustration or defensiveness can make the situation worse than it needs to be. At the end of the day, we are all just people that want to be heard and understood. The same is true for homeowners who are having issues with their contractors. This blog is designed to give you some helpful tips for how to successfully resolve homeowner issues.
Are you listening?
The first step in successfully resolving issues with high-maintenance homeowners is to become an excellent listener. We will be honest with you; this is tricky to learn when dealing with clients’ various issues. Your work is personal, and you take pride in doing a good job. That is under attack when a customer has a problem. It’s easy to create a nasty habit of formulating a response on how you are right when a customer tells you about an issue they had with your work or company.
But the big problem with that is, if you are formulating a response, you are not genuinely listening, and your customer does not feel heard and understood. There is nothing more frustrating than having to try to address an issue that falls on deaf ears. This is the number one reason homeowners would end up hiring our firm, not because all of their problems are valid, but because no one would really listen and explain.
We are here to help
The Cromeens Law Firm is here to protect you and your business. Our hope is that you never get stuck in a legal battle because you were not adequately informed or prepared. Work with us to equip yourself with the knowledge you need to protect your business and your hard-earned money.
Take notes about the issues to resolve
Notebook. Check! Pen. Check! Now, take note! When your client brings an issue to your attention, the first thing you need to do is find a notepad and a pen. As they are explaining their problem, write down in your own words what the issue is. You don’t have to agree that it is an issue but write down everything they have to say without interrupting them. Doing this will be hard because they are likely criticizing your work, but you need to put your pride and anger aside and truly listen to what they are saying.
To help you successfully resolve homeowner issues, do this: when the homeowner finishes speaking, repeat back what you heard that their issues are. It would be best if you said, “What I understand the issues are…” and then proceed to read back your notes and take any additional notes needed to understand their problems. After clarifying what issues need to be addressed, you need to explain that you take all of their concerns very seriously and need some time to investigate and develop resolutions. It will go a long way toward successfully resolving issues with homeowners if you give them the expectation of getting back to them at a specific date and time. Our personal suggestion is to not make it longer than two days.
Follow up with homeowners to successfully resolve issues
Next, dedicate time to investigate the issues so. If you do not think that the issues are true problems, be prepared to clearly state why they are not. If there is a problem, validate it with the homeowner and move on with how you will fix it. Say something along the lines of, “We pride ourselves on customer service, and we really let you down, but here are the ways we are going to make it right.” Making it right at this stage is a lot cheaper than having to make it right after you have been sued.
We realize that no matter how hard you try, there will still be homeowners you cannot make happy. This is why you should follow the steps above to successfully resolve homeowner issues, keep all of your notes, and respond via email or some other way that provides a written record. The biggest thing that we need to prove if you get sued is that you acted reasonably. Following the process above is a reasonable way to attempt to resolve issues.
Working with homeowners can be a complicated endeavor. There is no catch-all solution for handling a displeased homeowner, so preventative measures are the best insurance for residential contractors. Call The Cromeens Law Firm and get connected with a skilled construction attorney to keep your business prepared and protected against the homeowners you just can’t please. Your business’s success is important, and you deserve representation and support that believes that as much as you do.