Tools designed for Contractors, By Contractors™

Every roofer out there is bound to work for unrealistic or impatient clients from time to time. That’s why it’s imperative to have methods for dealing with them in your repertoire, along with your diplomacy and the rest of your shingle roofing tools.

Dealing with problem clients might be very unpleasant,  but it’s still an integral part of your job.   Some clients become frustrated as the roofing process goes along, but others are equipped with short fuses and unrealistic expectations long before they hire you. Here are five tips for dealing with difficult clients.

1. Adopt and Maintain a Positive Attitude Toward Unreasonable Clients

Attitude is everything, even in the roofing business. You might think (or wish) that skill and integrity were the only things that really mattered, but that just isn’t the case. In short, everything about dealing with clients is easier if you’re patient, open, and accommodating.

More specifically, always take a solution-oriented approach to any problems a client presents. Engaging in a debate with them won’t accomplish anything and neither will a parade of excuses. Instead of arguing, listen carefully to their frustrations and immediately start presenting solutions.

This will quiet things down and let you get back to work that much more quickly.  It will also improve any other encounters you might have with this type of client.  As you can probably see, a positive attitude is fundamental to successfully dealing with difficult clients.

2. Turn Down Jobs From Clients Who Have Obviously Unrealistic Expectations

We get it– you want to get as many clients as you can. New clients are the lifeblood of your company and securing them is the only way you can stay in business. Unfortunately, however, some clients are simply more trouble than they’re worth, especially they’re inherently difficult to satisfy.

You have every right to turn down a job, especially if you know the client is going to cause excessive trouble for you and your crew members. You’ll recoup any losses by working for homeowners you might not have had room for if you’d taken on a client who simply can’t be satisfied.

Your reputation as a good roofer might also be at stake in these situations.  An unhappy client is much more likely to speak poorly of your work or post negative reviews online. This is yet another reason to steer clear of clients who demand the impossible.

3. Take Extra Time With Your Initial Estimate

It goes without saying that your initial estimate should always be as accurate as possible, but this accuracy is even more important when dealing with impatient clients. Put simply, go conservative in terms of cost, time, and homeowner inconvenience.

Let’s face it– unrealistic clients can be a major drain on your time, money, and peace of mind. That’s why it’s advisable to practice your due diligence and then some if you catch a whiff of impatience when you first talk with a client.

Of course, it’s often difficult to know that a client is going to be unreasonable. But once you’ve been in business a while, you tend to develop of sense of a client’s personality pretty quickly. Trust yourself in this regard and calculate your estimate accordingly.

4. Justify the Amount of Time Involved in Building the Roof

A fair amount of client complaints stem from what they feel is a slow-moving project.  This often holds true whether their perception is accurate or not.  While this is understandable to a certain extent– you are working on their home after all– sometimes it’s just not possible to work any faster.

A good way to avoid at least some of these complaints is by working to justify the time it will take to build a durable and attractive roof.  Go through your estimate line by line, pointing out areas that consume the most time and explaining why the quality of the end result is worth a bit of extra waiting.

You can reinforce this message in a number of effective ways.  First, you can bring before and after photos of roofs you’ve built in the past.  You might have to point out those part of the roof that took the most time, but the client is more likely to accept your terms once they see visual proof of what you’re proposing.

Another thing you can do is discuss the problems and extra costs that can arise when a roofer puts too much emphasis on speed. For instance, you can discuss the numerous mistakes a ‘speed roofer’ is most likely to make.   Then, you should explain just how the extra time your crew requires can avoid these often costly errors.

This technique is most effective if you use it right from the start and continue it as the job progresses.   That way, your explanations will be consistent and mutually reinforcing.

5. Use Communication as One of Your Shingle Roofing Tools

Communication skills are just as important as your shingle roofing tools and using durable materials. This is especially true with irritated or unreasonable clients. Clarity is the best way to convey what you can do and temper expectations.

But remember– any conversation with an unsatisfied client is much more about them than you, so listening should be your top priority. When clients know you’re listening to them, they feel that much more important and are more likely to cut you some slack.

Of course, you still have to take care of your end to keep the lines of communication open and productive. Here a few ways to ensure proper client communication:

  • Visit the job site frequently and allow the client to express any frustrations they have.
  • Create a pamphlet that explains your scheduling practices in very clear terms and distributes it to every client.
  • Establish a web page where clients can log in and find out about any schedule updates.
  • Use electronic means such as emails or text messages to deliver updates.

As you can see, these are guidelines you can (and should) follow with all of your clientele, but it’s probably wise to refine things a bit when you’re dealing with unrealistic expectations.

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