Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gaining the trust of your clients

My wife and I had the good fortune of adopting a new cat this afternoon and it immediately struck me it might take some time to earn the trust of this new cat. We basically removed Benny from his nice comfortable home in Ipswich with 3 other cats and thrust him into our home which must be a tremendous shock to his system considering he lived there most of his life. Consider the fact that he’s only 9 months old but he had his family already established, he was the leader amongst all the other cats and he had his own space. After his previous owner left our home, Benny was very quiet and has been snuggled up in his new bed with what looks like a pout on his face. Let’s face it, he’s not happy right now and I’m sure he is feeling very vulnerable with the expectation that he will soon be back in his normal environment. “When is mommy coming to get me?”, he meowed.

I guess I just assumed that we would bring him in to our home, provide him with the things he needs to live and he would instantly bond with us. Wrong answer! I can’t recall how many times we’ve gone into someone’s home to do a remodeling project and we just assume everything will go well and that they will trust us as if we are part of their family. Most times it goes that way but every so often we encounter a cat (read as: client) who does not immediately trust us. It is hard not to take personally because deep down inside we know we are “trust worthy” and overall good people. How could anyone not trust us? I think the builder/client trust is something we just take for granted some times and it is something that has to be earned and not assumed. For the time we are working in their homes they are at the height of vulnerability with little privacy and few places to escape to. Having gone through a major renovation on our own home 3 years ago I can honestly say that I do know how stressful it can be and let's face it, it stinks.

Trust means being able to predict what other people will do and what situations will occur. If we can surround ourselves with people we trust, then we can create a safe present and an even better future. I can imagine Benny feels this way in his own little kitty way. Generally I find that a failure in trust may be forgiven more easily if it is interpreted as a failure of competence rather than a lack of honesty. Therefore honesty is one area I place the greatest importance on and I really like to show how much I care about my clients by my actions and not by how much I know. It is easy to get sucked into trying to “show off” in front of a client by blurting out all that I know and how great our crews are and what awesome subcontractors we have. I love the following quote - “People Don’t Care How Much You Know, Until They Know How Much You Care”


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