In the construction industry we focus on operations. The job site is king, and the quest is to dig a hole, stick a building in it, and make it look pretty on the outside. However, after the client moves into their brand spanking new facility, how long does it take for them to go about their business? Not long, and the contractor is forgotten about very quickly, unless an excellent relationship is forged and grown over time.
The problem is that we are on to the next project, digging a hole, etc. We are glad to be done with the darn thing and good riddance. That is the very attitude that the client senses. We are ready to move on. It is reinforced and confirmed when you don't show your face or call during the ensuing months. There are ways to change this, though.
The first homerun to hit is to finish the project well. Be tenacious with that punch list and make sure that there are no outstanding issues that your client is concerned about. One way to accomplish this is to have them fill out a project evaluation (contact me if you need one). This brings closure and communicates that you care how you end the work.
Celebrate with Them at Their Open House
If the client has any type of open house, ribbon cutting or community welcome to their facility, make sure that you are involved, visible, handing out prizes and a part of the team. This is not the time to fade into the woodwork. Bring your whole team out to demonstrate your pride in the job well done. You may very well receive a referral or enter into a long-term relationship as a result of that time.
Call and Visit Periodically
The first year is crucial to stay in touch, gather socially, see what challenges arise that you can help them solve and be available as a consultant, ally and friend. Your value as a supplier will soar through the roof, and you will receive future business for it. Mix up the reasons for your investment into the relationship social, professional, spiritual, etc.
Is there a way to enter into a service, maintenance or operations agreement to stay in front of your client, or to be on-call when needed? Many contractors fail to maintain that relationship, because they are so quick to move to the next project. They trust you now you've got them for life if you don't mess it up.
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