Qualified Remodeler Magazine

JUN 2017

Qualified Remodeler helps independent remodeling firms to survive, become more professional and more profitable by providing must-have business information, namely best business practices, new product information and timely design ideas.

Issue link: http://qualifiedremodeler.epubxp.com/i/835806

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Page 52 of 60

Now he or she is yelling at the project manag- er who has presented him/her with a change order form to sign and needs to collect a check. For the moment, the job stops. BACK OFF The first thing the process teaches is to step back and not respond in kind to whatever irri- tation or rage might be coming from the home- owner. That's not always easy because our brains are wired to instantly match the mood and tone of whomever it is we're conversing with. It's why, when these things happen, con- tractors get their backs to the wall and yell and get defensive. That won't solve anything. If you pause and step back, then you can remain calm while the homeowner vents. His/her frustration is real and needs an out- let. Listen, show concern and take notes. The fact you're not responding in kind has its own calming effect. If two people are in dispute and only one of them is yelling, the yelling soon seems pointless. Once you've let the homeowner have his/ her say, find out what's really wrong. In this A system does several things. For one, it gives you a blueprint for how to proceed when lots of stress and aggravation enter the pic- ture. You go from point A to point B, moving logically toward a conclusion that leaves the homeowner satisfied. In addition, because it's a system, anyone can be taught to use it. It's no longer always up to you, the owner, to step in and resolve these situations—doing that is a recipe for burnout. That's why we spend a whole day teach- ing dispute resolution at the Blue Collar Management boot camp. At Maggio Roofing, for instance, we have everyone learn the dis- pute resolution system, because everyone— sales, production and administrators—could encounter a dispute with a customer. And if not handled properly, that dispute might turn toxic. You don't want that. BE COOL, BE CLEAR Let's say your production people are trained in the dispute resolution process, meaning they're equipped to solve whatever problem occurs right there and then. You, the owner, may hear about it at some point, but it's their situation and their responsibility to handle it. Let's say, for instance, that a roofing tear- off starts and it's quickly discovered that there's rotted wood. Not just the sheathing but some of the framing has to be replaced. Let's say this happened because there was no attic access and the roof, when you walked it, seemed solid enough because there were so many layers of roofing material on it. Nevertheless, the job is now going to take a few extra days and cost several thousand dollars more. The homeowner's furious be- cause, he/she says, the salesperson should've known this would happen and should've in- cluded it in the price. "You're the experts!" SOMETIMES it seems like t he easiest thing to have happen is for a job to run into a snag. Suddenly the orderly flow of things is interrupted and the customer, previously ea- ger and amiable, is irritated or angry. It's the experience of many contractors that things can go almost anywhere from that point, including to court. Now you have a dispute. A dispute, in a way, is like an objection in the sales process. If you don't know what to say or how to move the conversation forward, you're thrown and left feeling helpless. On the other hand, if you have a procedure read- ily available, you can eventually defuse even a difficult situation. In the best-case scenar- io, your homeowner is even more impressed with your professionalism than he/she was when he/she first bought the job because managing a dispute puts your company to the test. And it's a test home improvement contractors often fail. CLEARLY COMMUNICATED Here's the first thing to know about disputes: It's fairly easy to avoid about 90 percent of them. You can do so by structuring your sales process, including your contract, a certain way. If you have policies that are clearly communicated verbally and in writ- ing, you can head off most disputes. Even if one arises, clear and written policies will serve you well because you can reference something communicated previously but which, for whatever reason, the homeowner chose to ignore. But you're not going to avoid all disputes. That's why CCN founder Richard Kaller cre- ated our 10-step dispute resolution system, specifically for members to use in defusing these situations. Dispute Resolution If you pause and step back, then you can remain calm while the homeowner vents. His/her frustration is real and needs an outlet. A problem on the job can cause homeowners to blow up. Use a proven process to help defuse and manage it. By Scott Siegal 54 SPECIAL SECTION: HOME IMPROVEMENT PRO | June 2017 QR QualifiedRemodeler.com

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