“How ‘m I Doin’?”
I grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York State at a time when IBM was the big employer in town. My father was among the few dads in my neighborhood who didn’t work for IBM, in fact.
The area was still pretty rural at that time, but were close enough to New York City that we got a lot of the happenings in the Big Apple on our local news.
One of the things I remember clearly is, when Ed Koch was mayor, he made it a habit of walking the streets and asking people, “How ‘m I Doin’?” in his classic New York accent.
He would get all kinds of answers from people, and there’s no doubt he learned a lot about what his constituency wanted and expected from him.
“How ‘m I Doin’?” It’s a darned good question to ask.
Trade professionals I’ve spoken to in virtually every category – whether painters, remodelers, roofers, landscapers, pool builders, window and siding, or others – have told me that, on bigger projects, there’s an emotional low that clients reach about two-thirds of the way through the job.
That’s a great time to ask them, “How ‘m I Doin’?”
Oftentimes clients just want to vent their frustration at how slowly the project seems to be moving. While you and I know that the project is actually progressing nicely, from the client’s perspective it just doesn’t seem to be. Understand that they’re living with the disruption, dust, noise, and inconvenience… and it’s wearing on them.
Take a few minutes with the client to tell them – and show them – that everything is moving along as planned, and that the finishing stages of the project are just around the corner. That’s really all they want to know.
This is also a great time to give them a mid-project gift to lift their spirits. Send them out to a nice dinner to get a break. If it’s a family with young kids, send them to a family-style restaurant.
(Just remember to build this expense into your proposal. The $200 dollars won’t sway them to another contractor, and your client will be so pleased with you that you’ll get another great testimonial for your marketing and sales binder, and more referrals to other great jobs.)
Listening to your clients and understanding their perspective is a critically important aspect of managing a project. A really great way to open them up is to ask “How ‘m I Doin’?”
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