Construction Monkey

Construction Monkey Blog

In my last installment I talked about performance in relation to holding people accountable for what they accomplish and not what they do.  Let's look at the bigger picture of who are boss really is, the client.  For all of us in construction, General Contractors, Subcontractors, Engineers, etc. and for all of the roles, Project Manager, Estimator, Preconstruction Team Leader, Superintendent, Journeyman, Apprentice, etc. we have one boss that makes our job possible, the client.  Without the client's ability to take their capital and put it to work into new construction, none of us would be employed.  At the lower levels of the company, there is not as clear an understanding about that reality, but make no mistake about it your real bosses are the clients of the company.

So what do they expect of us?  Simple to define in a sentence: Provide more value than it costs while making it a pleasurable experience.   It is a little more difficult to put down what that means in strict metrics.  The simpliest way to meet their expectations is to try and view your job through their eyes.  Most of the clients know very little about construction, design, codes, means and methods and the like.  Take something from your life that you may not know very well like the computer chip in your car or the cellular of your body.  When something goes wrong you have to go to someone else and get them to fix it.  You are trusting them with everything engaged in that activity, so hopefully they will treat you right.  When in these scenarios you are looking for information about what is going on, why it is happening, how it can be resolved, what it will cost, and what other options you have.  You are hoping that they are treating the issue as if it was their own, right?

Well that is how we need to treat our clients.  Always look at it from their perspective and with every activity treat what you are doing as if it is your own.  Be sure to answer these questions:
  • What is going on?
  • Why it is happening?
  • How it can be resolved?
  • What it will cost?
  • What other options they have?
If you do this, you will retain not only your client, but your job.  Let me put to you a couple of examples.  When you are roughing in a plumbing pipe in a unfinished area that needs to go to a finished area, what height should you put that pipe at?  If you are viewing from your client's perspective you should be placing it in such a place that will give them the most flexibility in the future.  If you are unsure about what the future plans are, have a conversation, maybe they are planning a future stairwell that you can avoid now.  That little bit of thought will go a long way.

As far as budgeting, we have all had to do the VE shuffle.  Cutting costs out of project is nothing new, but when you start this activity, find out what the client's goals are.  When putting potential cost saving items to them give them all of the information from the questions above.  If you had a medical issue, you would want your doctor to walk you through each of the options, the pros and cons of each, and the costs associated with them.  Don't assume that anyone else on the team understands all of the pros and cons.

Customer Service is the key to any service business and we are in the service business.  Most of our competition can build what we build, but do they add more value than it costs, while making it a pleasurable experience?  If you and your firm does, you will prosper!

About the Author

Craig Pierce

Craig Pierce has been working in the construction industry for the past 25 years helping subcontractors master their trade. Currently he is President of Atalanta Enterprises which provides consulting services to contractors And software solutions through