Can you say, “Would you like fries with that?” If you can't or if you don't think it's necessary to ask your client if there is more that you can do, you're missing an opportunity to expand your offerings. Customer service is the key to meeting the needs of your client. We should always ask about options they may not have considered. You have to admit, it's worked for Mickey D's.
Our clients come to us as professionals, experts in our fields, to help them make decisions and better understand how to design and build their homes. They may have done some homework, read books, spent time wandering around the Internet, and even sat down with one or more contractors, suppliers, or salespeople. But if they're spending time with you, they are looking for better solutions. They are waiting for you to ask the question that brings it all together.
It's easy to get into the mindset that we are there to answer clients’ questions. But in reality, they don't always know what to ask. This is where it's up to us to expand the conversation and become the expert they are looking for. Do you ask them if they have considered how many people will cook at one time when discussing a kitchen? Will a second dishwasher help out if they entertain often? If an outdoor living space is an option, do you ask them how they will use it? Will it be a family space, a party space, or a quite retreat? What can you add to their space to make it more livable? Have they thought about long-term maintenance when discussing exterior applications? Do looks trump ease of care? Can they have both?
The end result is a client who appreciates that you understand where he or she wants to go and for you ... a better bottom line. So expand their options. Ask them the design/build equivalent of “would you like fries with that?” and become the professional they want to help them with their project. They will thank you and you'll find that you are growing your business.
Residential construction is much more than products and services. Clients don't have a team making design and build decisions until you become their advocate. Our economy requires that we set ourselves apart from the rank and file. That's why customer service is the key to everything you offer. In the meantime, remember to be bold and ask questions.
Bonnie Pickartz is president of Goshen Timber Frames in Franklin, N.C. In her role as president, Pickartz focuses on building a company that is client centric. Her customer service background and commitment to client relationships are the keys in Goshen's continued success. Pickartz understood early on that the Internet would be important to showcasing Goshen's homes and that an expanding Web presence is critical in any business. Her goal is to help other builders use these tools to grow their own businesses.