For subcontractors, the best way to obtain new business is word of mouth; this often starts with your current customer’s satisfaction. From blinds sales representatives to tile repair specialists, simple business etiquette is a must when interacting with customers, especially within their own homes. The following guidelines will help you and your business become more reliable, professional, and praiseworthy.
To Call, or Not to Call
As a general rule, you should only contact your client between normal business hours (8 AM - 5 PM) when calling or texting them. Be sure that you have established a relationship with the client before texting them, as texting is a much less formal and professional way to contact a client. To maintain professionalism, refrain from using shortened words, such as ‘u’ instead of ‘you,’ and abbreviations, such as ‘brb,’ in your texts.
Time Is Money
You probably already know not to arrive to an appointment late and to reach out if you know you are going to be late. However, this works in reverse as well. If you’re going to arrive 20 minutes early, wait in your car until the appointment is supposed to start; arriving significantly early can stress your client out, as they are most likely not ready for you to be there. If you have an established and casual relationship with the client, you can text them and tell them you’ll be there 20 minutes early; however, make sure they know that you can still meet at the originally appointed time if they are not yet ready.
Home Sweet (Someone Else’s) Home
If you are going into a client’s home, be courteous and extra cautious. As soon as you walk in, offer to take off your shoes. If you’re bringing tools, a ladder, or other another piece of large equipment, be sure to carry them carefully so as to not scratch the walls or floors. Your first thought while inside should always be about making sure you are careful with their home. Concerning decency, always ask before you use their bathroom. However, if you are in the house for a small project that will take less than 2 hours, refrain from using their bathroom unless it is an emergency. As a general rule, try to refrain from needing to use the bathroom at client’s homes; chances are, you pass various grocery stores, gas stations, and fast food restaurants between houses, all of which are much better options when trying to be professional in a client’s home.
Just Do It
Honor your commitments by showing up when you say you will and calling back when you are supposed to. It’s a small and seemingly obvious task, but it is definitely noticed by the client when you do not do these things. Breaking commitments without reason shows that you are not responsible enough to do whatever project for which they are considering hiring you.
Don’t Leave Them Hanging
Sometimes a client emails you and you don’t have an answer - that’s alright. Sometimes you have to forward the question to someone else, and wait for them to respond, which you have no control over - that’s understandable. However, regardless of why you haven’t emailed the client back, follow up emails are key. If you don’t have an answer or if you’re waiting to hear from someone else, still follow up with your client to let them know you are working on it. Silence from your end does nothing to help the client, and it does everything to hurt your credibility.
Please and Thank You
Be polite. You learned this when you were young, and you learned it for a reason. Being polite shows respect, kindness, and consideration. If you are not polite to your client, that’s the first thing they’ll say when they are telling their friends not to use you. Even if you fail in another category, politeness will often make up for other mistakes.
Patience is a Virtue
Be patient with your clients. Recognize that even though you most likely know more than they do on the specific subject, they are the ones with the idea or problem in their head. Listen to their problem or concern, and try to sincerely help them understand how the problem can be fixed, or why it can’t be fixed. You’ve spent years mastering this skill - they have been busy mastering another skill, and need your help understanding.
By following these guidelines, you can improve your client experience and thereby build a better business.