First impressions are everything!
Many contractors forget that it is necessary to be presentable the first time you meet your client; dress professionally and appropriately. Above this, show up on time! How can you expect your client to trust that you will complete their project in a timely manner if you could not show up for their estimate in a timely manner? Additionally, be prepared! Pack your measuring tools, bring some business cards and either a presentation folder or digital copies of previous work you have completed to show to the client. Clients are usually interested in seeing how much and what type of experience you have, so why make them wait until you get back to the office to show them what you’re capable of?
But the pressure is not only on the contractor; both parties should do some preparation before the meeting. The first time you and your potential client meet should honestly feel like an interview for both parties. Both parties should walk away from this meeting knowing if they will be working with the other by the end of the estimate.
From a homeowner’s perspective, it is important to ask the contractor questions that will help you gain knowledge about the contractor in hopes of making you feel comfortable enough to work with them. Ask them how long they have been doing renovations or projects similar to the one you are looking to have done. Ask them if they have any referrals. Referrals are always a good way to get a true sense of the contractor and their team. Apart from questions for the contractor, the homeowner should also do a little bit of homework. Have a rough idea of what your vision is so that the contractor can help fill in the blanks or enhance the vision.
The contractor should ask the homeowner questions that will help them understand more about the family and the needs and wants of the space that they are looking to renovate or supplement with additions. The contractor should try to get a sense of the clients’ style, design, scope of work and budget. Many contractors over promise but under deliver because of budget constraints so it’s best to just have an open honest conversation around this topic. Also, having that portfolio mentioned earlier is great for those clients who have no idea where to start or who are just flustered because they have gathered a million ideas from Pinterest and Houzz.
The key to a successful first meet is communication. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or provide your thoughts and expertise. Also, always remember to remain respectful of each other’s property and time. As a homeowner, if you are just fishing for ideas or quotes, that’s not cool! And contractors, always remember to respect the clients time and property. Be cognisant of any rituals they may have, the most obvious one is shoe removal!
Hope this helps both new contractors and homeowners out there looking for a contractor get some context into what to expect when considering a renovation or addition.