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As an electrical contractor, you’re probably used to dealing with danger. Usually, that danger comes from dealing with high voltage or grounding issues. Sometimes though, the danger comes in the form of a human being, aka a client. Although they realize your services are needed – after all, they contacted you – your presence might make them nervous for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, there are ways to try and appease your nervous clients so you can get the job done.
Lay the Groundwork
The most important thing you can do is let your customer know your game plan. If the electrical work requires turning off one or several appliances, let the customer know in advance so they can prepare. That’s only fair; how would you feel if you stocked your deep freezer on Monday and then you found out it has to be unplugged for two days?
Map out the job so the customer knows what to expect. If you have to run wiring behind an antique bookcase, let the client know in advance so the case can be moved or the expensive bric-a-brac can be stored for safe keeping. If the client knows what to expect, he’s less likely to be touchy.
Keep to the Plan
Once you’ve told the client the plan, stick to it as closely as possible. If you’re ahead of schedule or running behind, let the client know so they can adjust as needed. If you need to get into a space on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, alert the client ASAP so they can alter their plans. In most cases, this will be good news because you’ll be done sooner, but just in case the client has to prepare, they can. Again, keeping the client in the loop is vital to keep conflicts to a minimum.
Be Prepared to Provide Progress Reports
So some clients hire you, walk away and tell you to call them when you’re done, while others prefer to get updates. Hope for the former, prepare for the latter. As annoying as progress reports may seem, it helps to remember that a person’s home is their oasis. They’re worried about it and want to know it’s okay and that you’re taking good care of it.
Review the Plan
Go over the equipment being installed to make sure everything is correct. You don’t want to raise the hackles of a homeowner, by installing the wrong lighting fixtures or putting an outlet in the wrong place. This step goes hand-in-hand with laying the groundwork, but it’s worth mentioning by itself. Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the job being done and the materials being used and installed.
Ask for Feedback
At the end of the job, ask the client how they feel it went. Most clients are willing to let you know what they thought about the job. You can keep it simple and ask if they would use your services again if needed, or you could present them with a more thorough survey. If the answer to the simple question is “no,” request the client provide a reason or some sort of feedback.
This information could help you with future clients, provided you are open to constructive criticism. The key word here is constructive. If the client’s feedback actually applies, consider it. But if they didn’t like you because your work truck took up too much of their driveway, well feel free to file that where it belongs.
In case it’s not clear, the best tool for conflict resolution is communication. If you keep your customers in the loop, there’s less chance for a conflict.