As a building business, the work you do with a customer isn’t just about completing one project and never seeing them again.
If you do a good job and grow a long term customer relationship, they’ll get you involved in any future work they do. More importantly for you, they’ll also recommend you to their friends.
This relationship is about more than just craftsmanship. So how do you build a long term relationship in business?
Building long term customer relationships in the construction industry is about communicating well during and after project work is completed. Social media is a fantastic tool to showcase your work and grow a community of engaged, loyal customers, and a CRM tool is best used to manage communications during a build.
What is business relationship management?
Business relationship management is your strategy to grow a relationship between yourself and your customers.
In the construction industry, it happens in two stages – during the initial project and after the work is completed.
While the initial stage often takes care of itself, many construction companies forget about the second stage and miss a crucial opportunity to continue to build good customer relationships.
Importance of maintaining good relationship in the building industry
The importance of customer relationship management for revenue can be seen in many different ways, including:
Good relationships can present new opportunities
Referrals and recommendations are highly effective in construction. People often go looking for recommendations before starting a new project, and having loyal advocates is a great way to acquire new customers.
Long-term relationships can be fruitful
By building long term relationships with customers, they won’t consider anyone but you for any future work.
Healthy relationships improve loyalty
Loyalty is the gold standard when talking about business relationships. Loyalty is about more than just satisfying customers – a loyal customer will decline the opportunity to work with your competitors because they know and trust you intimately.
Strong relationships helps increase customer satisfaction
When you have a long lasting business relationship, you get to know what your customers want – not just in their construction project, but in important peripheral aspects such as price, communication, style and the subcontractors they like.
Knowing what customers want means you have a much better chance of keeping them satisfied.
Good relationships help grow your business
Each relationship opens up a new network that you’re connected to. After yourself, the most critical person in that network is your customer. They have the ability to connect you with exponentially more people that you can work with.
Challenges of customer relationships in construction organisations
Growing a long term customer relationship isn’t always easy in the construction industry.
- Time is a factor that dictates a lot of what you’re able to do. Construction companies have constant deadlines to meet and are always racing the clock. Efforts to grow a relationship are often sidelined for trying to complete a construction project on time.
- Juggling multiple projects at once. With multiple customers and different jobs at different stages, it can be hard to keep up to date with where everything is at. As a business owner, this is valuable context when communicating with customers.
- Documenting progress and requirements. As construction projects progress, the requirements of the job can change. Communicating these changes in a standardised way is important, and keeping track of any change in plans is difficult if it’s not properly documented.
Ways to nurture long term profitable customers in the building industry
There are many different strategies to strengthen customer relationships – these are best suited to the construction industry and the challenges given above.
Establish your method of communication
Different customers will have different preferences for communication. Some will prefer a phone call, others a text message. Others will rather speak to you in person on the building site.
There’s no right or wrong way, but make the effort to find out which method your customer prefers and use it wherever possible.
Utilise technology to your advantage
Technology is a great way to showcase progress and keep customers informed. Take photos or send a quick video to show key milestones or other visual progress.
Social media has become a must-have for anyone in the building industry. It’s a great way to continue to engage with past customers and illustrate all the different types of work you can do.
Keep your customers in the loop always
Communication is key in building long term client relationships. The best communication is clear and constant, so there’s no ambiguity and customers know exactly what they need to know.
A mistake many building companies make is to go quiet when things are going to plan. However, customers will start to worry if they don’t hear from you when they think they should.
Not only that, but letting them know things are on track is also an opportunity to subtly let them know you’re doing a good job.
Recognise customer value
Customers often don’t understand the ins and outs of the construction industry, so it’s vital you provide a comprehensive customer service. They get immense value from being able to talk to you when they ring, and having progress updated in a way they actually understand.
Work on the principle of flexibility
Just like with relationships outside the workplace, what works for one person won’t always work for another. While you can have systems and processes that work best for you, it’s also important to have the flexibility and willingness to customise your approach when necessary.
Construction companies that can personalise their service to suit specific customer needs are much more likely to achieve a long lasting customer relationship.
Deploying Customer Relation Management (CRM) technology
The best way to deliver on these strategies to grow customer relationships, particularly with the specific challenges of the building industry in mind, is to use a CRM tool.
Read more: The ultimate customer relationship checklist
Software helps to establish long term relationships built on communication and clarity at all parts of the project. A CRM tool becomes the home for all customer interactions, giving both you and your customers the most up to date information at your fingertips.
Rather than leave things to chance, or worse, your memory, get a dedicated CRM tool to make it faster and easier than ever to build the relationships that will benefit your business.
Your workmanship is never an issue, but the way you deal with customers is the key to nurturing a positive long term relationship. The best construction company in the world will still struggle to build relationships without the right systems and processes in place.
Communication is at the heart of it all. Make an effort to communicate regularly, with clarity, and in a method that’s convenient for your customers, as much as possible.
Check out related articles & resources.