Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education

How Can Contractors Focus on Client Retention?

Image of many emoji faces with different expressions

By: Holly Welles, The Estate Update

Published: August 29, 2019

The construction industry is volatile and ever-changing. As a contracting company, you might find it challenging to retain clients when someone else can offer a new skill or talent for a fraction of what you're charging. How can you focus on client retention without compromising efficiency or productivity?

1. Anticipate your clients’ needs.

Most contractor/client relationships are reactive—you react to customer requests or problems that occur. Instead of being reactive, work on being proactive and anticipating the client's needs. You don't need to be a fortune-teller to figure out what your customers need.

Instead, you need clear and open lines of communication, as well as accurate and recent data on your competitors and the state of the local market. From there, you can figure out how to solve the next problem before it darkens someone's door for the first time.

2. Get to know your customers.

As a contractor, you know your clients are more than just names on a page or numbers in a file. However, if you're trying to fit as much work as possible into each day, it can be challenging to remember this. Keep in mind, 86 percent of clients will quit doing business with a company because of a single bad customer experience.

You don't need to make uncomfortable small talk every time you or a team member speaks with a customer, but taking the time to get to know them can ensure you provide a positive experience every time.

3. Focus on productivity.

All the client retention strategies in the world won't help you keep your customers if you fail to deliver on time. If you only take one thing away from this list, it's that you should be focusing on productivity. Does your team have the tools and equipment to respond to emergencies, reduce guesswork, and communicate obstacles before they derail a project?

In addition to retaining clients, working on improving your team's productivity will help you make more time to take on new clients or new projects. Rework can extend a project timeline by almost 10 percent, cutting into your ability to line up new work. Focusing on getting jobs done quickly and correctly is beneficial for all parties.

4. Strengthen client onboarding.

It's easier to retain clients once you have several, so work on strengthening your client onboarding techniques. Things like welcome snack baskets and branded swag can make your new clients feel valued. Make them feel like they're part of the family by inviting them to the office to meet you and your team before the project starts. Keep them apprised of any promotions you're offering they might be interested in. Keeping your clients happy starts with turning casual connections into valued customers first.

5. Practice good communication and feedback.

Nothing chases clients away faster than a lack of communication from their chosen contractor. Make it easy for your clients to reach you, and respond to any concerns as quickly and efficiently as possible. At the same time, set up a system to allow your clients to provide you with feedback on anything and everything.

They may want to rave about the results of their latest project, or they might have a suggestion for how you can improve your operations. Whatever the case is, give them the tools to provide you with feedback. As tempting as it might be, don't make this feedback anonymous. Make sure you leave the door open, figuratively speaking, to continue the conversation in case there's a problem you need to address or a suggestion you might like to adopt.

Build Your Client Base

All of these steps will help you retain your clients, but they won't do you much good unless you're taking steps to build your client base. Put yourself out there, study your competition and don't try to rely on word-of-mouth to bring customers to your door.

Once you've caught your clients' eyes, it’s crucial to create the best possible outcomes for your clients. Fortunately, these tips and tricks will help you build a relationship that will stand the test of time. Don't focus solely on bringing them in—customer retention will serve you in the long run.