The curtain has almost fallen, and the construction project is at the 99% completion mark. But for many contractors, that last one percent is the toughest. Leaving a job when it’s almost done and resisting the pull to go back is not only a common sentiment but often an emotional and financial drain. Why? Every job, it seems, faces this dilemma. Having to repeatedly do go-back work on a nearly finished project multiple times when you were hoping for a smooth exit can be deeply frustrating. Clients’ expectations, unplanned changes, overlooked details — all culminate into multiple revisits.
Three Different Endings to a Job
- The Cinderella Ending: It’s what everyone dreams of. You finish the job, the client appreciates the hard work, and you both bid adieu, anticipating future collaborations. While this ending is what every contractor yearns for, it is rare.
- The String-Along Ending: Here, trust issues come into play. The client doesn’t fully trust the contractor’s judgment and may feel like they’re getting shortchanged. As a result, the contractor might find themselves revisiting the site several times, often for minute concerns that can seem unreasonable. This can strain the contractor-client relationship, sometimes resulting in the contractor avoiding calls, only furthering the mistrust.
- The Burnt Bridge: This is the worst-case scenario where everything goes south. The client will never be satisfied, and the contractor decides never to return to that site.
A recurring theme among contractors is dealing with “crazy” clients. However, it’s vital to understand that most clients don’t start that way. Often, a lack of transparency and communication can turn a regular client “crazy”. If they feel taken advantage of, they’ll act out, which makes the contractor’s job harder. However, with a Client Engagement Agreement (CEA), contractors can set clear expectations right from the beginning. This agreement outlines what both parties expect from each other, ensuring there are no surprises down the line.
The trick is to keep checking in. With progressive invoicing, contractors can create a mini punch list throughout the job. This approach not only maintains a constant communication channel with the client but also ensures that there’s no significant backlog of issues towards the end.
Furthermore, progressive invoicing gives the client a sense of control. It’s a way to tell the client, “Look at what we’ve completed so far and let us know if everything is up to par”. This makes the client feel involved without making them feel overwhelmed.
New contractors sometimes try to hide issues, hoping the client won’t notice. This tactic may work sometimes, but it often backfires, leading to trust issues. Instead, regularly updating the client with a final walkthrough of what has been done and what’s left to do can make the process smoother.