Communicating with Clients During a Crisis: 5 Things Your Contracting Business Can Do

Here in California, environmental crises happen on a regular basis. If it isn’t a pandemic, it’s a series of wildfires or mudslides. Throw in an avalanche or two and an occasional big earthquake, and you’ve covered the state. When these things happen, California contractors have to negotiate with their clients to ensure that they can still finish the job and get payment. Here are a few tips for communicating with clients during a crisis.

Keep Communication Lines Open
Your clients and employees may already be accustomed to finding you in places that aren’t an office. You may not even have a conventional office, preferring to work remotely so that you have everything you need on the job site. But you can’t expect your clients to have the same setup. The first thing that you should do is find out how they prefer to communicate during periods of shelter in place or quarantine. It may be a combination of:

This ensures that you can continue to provide information for them and get answers in a timely manner.

Confirm Details Before You Share Information
The last thing that you want is to be a source of false news. There’s a big problem with fake information concerning COVID-19. This is largely because a lot of people are concerned about it, and the details are changing almost on an hourly basis. If you hear a rumor that the state or your city may implement stricter guidelines for the construction industry, it is best to follow up on that information before you communicate it. This way, you don’t have to deal with the frustration of having to go back and correct your own statements.

Track Supply Chain Issues
Since this is a global pandemic, it’s likely that there will be significant effects in all parts of the economy, including as it relates to the construction industry. This can lead to issues with the supply chain. For example, if one of your regular suppliers shuts down temporarily, you may need to find a different one. Or if a regular source of materials and equipment is in a country that is particularly hard-hit by the virus, you may need to get it from somewhere else. Your best bet is to search for information about supplies related to your workflow at least a couple of times a week. This will give you the most notice and time to make adjustments or alert your clients about possible problems.

Be Ready to Communicate Price Increases or Delays
As soon as the supply chain for your particular field is affected, you will probably notice prices increasing. If you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. When one company stops manufacturing a particular raw material or product, then their competitors have less competition. If the demand remains the same, prices may go up dramatically. In addition, trying to secure the services of a company or subcontractor may become more costly and take longer to find availability. If you notice either of these things happening as they relate to current projects, you should be ready to do the math and propose a revised estimate as quickly as possible for your client. This gives them the opportunity to review information and ask questions.

Consider Online Options for Collaboration
There may be points in time when having a simple phone conversation or email isn’t going to be sufficient. Some people are much more adept at communicating their expectations when they have an opportunity to talk to a person face-to-face. Fortunately, there are already a wide variety of conferencing software options, like Zoom, that you can use for this purpose. This gives you an opportunity to show details about a revised estimate or get a sense for how the client is reacting to any changes.

You may have many times when you have to communicate with clients during a crisis about delays or interruptions in the workflow of a project. Knowing how to reach them can make all the difference. To start building your career in construction, contact CSLS today!