Taking on the role of a project manager can seem like a daunting task. Whether you are providing specialized services for a client or are part of a larger building construction team, at some point, you will be required to discuss and possibly manage a client’s project. It is important your team is providing the absolute best project management possible to ensure the client’s needs are met and that everyone is always on the same page. The following steps will help ease the communication process between you and the client and ensure their expectations are always being met.
1. Define the scope of services. Are you providing a specialized service? (i.e. electric work, plumbing work, etc.) Or are you a part of a larger construction project team? Be sure the client understands everything you are offering—nothing more, nothing less.
2. Set realistic goals. Yes, we understand the client wants his/her new building up and running as soon as possible. However, that can’t always happen. Take time to walk them through each milestone that must be met for the job to be completed.
3. Create a detailed plan. Every aspect of the job should be included in this plan. This way, the customer won’t feel blindsided if/when you start a new phase or if something goes awry. Including specified timelines are incredibly important in this step to be sure the entire team is following the timeline as accurately as possible.
4. Agree on a budget and stick to it. During the initial planning phase, a budget should be set in place that both the client and manager can easily work with. Be realistic with how much things will cost. Of course, you want to appeal to the client as much as possible. However, it’s just as important to be honest about anticipated expenses.
5. Explain common setbacks. This goes hand-in-hand with the budget communication. If you’ve been in the industry long enough, you will know what the most common setbacks are during a project. Though each project is different, it is important to let the client know what could happen throughout the project’s duration. This can help them understand what could go wrong, how it will be fixed, and how much it will cost.
6. Communicate as often as possible. The more informed the client, the better. Often, engineers and project managers don’t like to tell the client “too much” information, as the client will then be too involved and become too much of a problem. However, the more you include the client, the happier he/she will be. Is the client a poor communicator? A great way to compensate for this is to repeat what you have heard from the client and ask to confirm its accuracy. Remember, more communication means a more seamless project.
When a client has unrealistic expectations about your workforce, it is likely because they don’t understand how construction projects progress. It is up to you and your team to make sure the client is aware of all aspects of the project. Your client hired you to make his/her dream a reality. The biggest takeaway is to always remember to support their goals as a partner, not as a customer.