People: The best investment

We tend to think of business investments as hiring the best person for the job, buying the best equipment, and educating ourselves and staff. We don't think about time spent with clients or people who may become clients as perhaps the most important investment. Without these people, the rest of the investments can't pay off.

How often have you been deep into a meeting with a potential client when you find out that they aren't building for one, three, or even five or more years? How often has an email or phone call indicated they were in urgent need of information only to discover that the urgency is based on their own timeline?

We are looking for the next project and they are researching their future ... sometimes a distant future ... dream home or renovation. So how do we handle this? We capitalize on it. We think of it as a long-term investment and give them all the time, information and resources we have available. We give them the same consideration that we'd give them if they were ready to sign a contract today. We are building a relationship that will develop into tomorrow's work.

This is often hard to do when you're trying to keep a crew busy. But, it will pay off. Our current clients are the ones who we spent time getting to know and help years ago. Our schedule is full for months ahead and not with people who are beginning their search today. Most of these clients came to us in the busy years. They were beginning to develop plans for their retirement or vacation homes and when the time was right, we were on their short list. When they returned to us we pulled up their information and didn’t have to start over. We were ready to help them move forward.  

Time may be something you have in excess today. Use it wisely by welcoming the potential clients who aren’t building today. Share them with your building partners. Take the time to help them get comfortable with products they may be using in their new project. A field trip to the local plumbing, lighting or kitchen center accomplishes two things. First, it shows the client you are willing to invest your time in them and second, it reinforces your relationships with suppliers.

Clients often share stories of builders who disengaged once they learned they weren't building immediately. Those builders didn’t look at the big picture. They didn’t take that opportunity to develop a relationship that would weather tough times and pay them back for time spent. Don’t be the builder that shut the door. Be the builder who made the connection. This is one investment that will pay dividends.