How to Manage Customer Pain Points on Either Side of Remodeling’s Great Divide


Treat First-Timers Differently From Clients Who've Had Past Remodeling Experiences

By: Brian Paich

When it comes to remodeling, there’s a big difference between first-timers and more experienced homeowners. First-timers often have a starry-eyed view of what will happen, while homeowners who’ve been through a remodel job knows what it’s like–with either positive or negative results–and are a bit more hard-edged about the process.

In both cases, they care about the same things but weigh their concerns differently. Research conducted for ITW by MMR Research Associates shows that homeowners who have previously completed a remodeling project are most concerned with how they are going to live through a remodeling project again. Homeowners beginning their first renovation project are most concerned with how it is going to look. This information is important to understand because the professional remodeler has to have a different conversation with each type of client.

Shaping Customer Expectations
Showing before-and-after pictures to first-project homeowners can be an effective tactic. But for the seasoned homeowner, you have to manage their expectations about the “during,” not the “after.” If you run into multiple conflicts and misunderstandings during the several weeks–or months–of the project, you’re going to end up with an upset client.

Here are some ways to make sure your approach is tailored for customers’ expectations:

  • Talk about Inconveniences Before the Contract is Signed. Discuss the timeline, temporary living spaces, scheduling, logistics, and the dirt and dust. Explain how you manage all of these construction issues. Being upfront will set you apart from others, and it will leave your potential clients wondering why the “other guy” didn’t discuss these points. Lack of transparency, or the perception thereof, about costs and timelines can be frustrating for homeowners. While you can’t predict every obstacle that will arise on a jobsite, you can help homeowners be prepared for setbacks. Having this conversation will also help you understand the needs and attitude of the potential client.
  • Make it Livable. Work with each customer to develop a livable remodeling strategy that works for that customer’s lifestyle. Dust is one of those things that first-time home remodelers typically don’t think about, but more experienced homeowners who have gone through living in a dust bowl for months on end will know to ask you about your dust control procedure. According to MMR Research Associates, 68% of homeowners who experienced a remodeling project were displeased with how dust was managed. Avoid customer dissatisfaction by following best practices: isolate the work area, close and seal vents and the HVAC system, and capture airborne dust using a HEPA air scrubber.
  • Communicate the Way Clients Want. While Baby Boomers have long been the primary home improvement spenders, Generation X homeowners and Millennials are going to become the majority of your customers soon, if they’re not already. While you’ve built a successful business doing things a certain way, the home improvement audience is starting to shift. Younger generations demand digital communications, including invoices and status reports, in almost real time. To provide all customers with the best possible experience, be flexible in your communications approach.

Financial success, doing it right, and your firm’s reputation are all things you care about; providing complete customer satisfaction helps you gain repeat business and good referrals. In fact, a recent study by The Farnsworth Group showed that word of mouth is the most frequent way homeowners are connected to contractors. Manage expectations for both experienced and inexperienced home remodeling customers, control what you can, and don’t let a minor setback lead to an overall negative experience for your customers and your business.

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