4 Ways to Work Effectively with Designers and Building Owners
1) Tired of Trying to Meet Unrealistic Expectations? Help Align Designer's Vision with Reality
When designers lack in-depth knowledge of your trade, it can lead to unrealistic expectations – and ultimately, disappointment. Designers might show building owners pictures and idea boards of concepts that wow the client aesthetically, but miss the boat with functionality and practicality. While it's nice to work with a designer who has faith in your abilities, the mantra "the installer will make it work" can lead to disgruntled designers, disappointed building owners and frustrated installers.
To make sure that you successfully achieve the visions of designers and building owners, encourage the building team to involve you in the planning process. As you review drawings and plans, be prepared to offer creative alternatives to any problem areas – before you begin installation. The earlier you address any discrepancies between the design vision and the potential outcome, the happier all parties involved will be. Moreover, offering insight on design details gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise – an additional value to the designer and building owner.
2) Putting in Hours as an Unpaid Consultant? Get Credit Where Credit Is Due
When designers, architects and general contractors increasingly rely on your insight, you may realize that you're spending more time on a project than you are billing. If you sense that the design-build team will ask for your advice often during the planning period, consider implementing a consultation and design contract. This ensures that you are properly compensated for the time you spend thinking about, discussing and working on a project. This type of contract also establishes your place on the building team, properly crediting you as an integral member.
You can also integrate consulting work into your overall business strategy and publicize that you offer this valuable service. Designers, architects and building owners will benefit from your expertise, and your business will grow as you get more face time with a variety of members of the design-build industry.
3) Ready to Avoid Callbacks? Explain the Value of Subfloor Prep and Quality Materials
When designers and building owners have a firm budget, they may be inclined to allocate funds to visible elements – rather than addressing what lies beneath the installation's surface. However, as you know, failure to properly prepare the substrate prior to installation can lead to callbacks that are frustrating and costly for both the installer and building owner.
Be prepared to explain the value of any necessary subfloor prep to designers, general contractors and building owners. For example, find statistics that show the costs of closing a building due to lack of proper moisture mitigation. Share pictures of flooring and tile problems that could have been prevented by substrate preparation – and explain what you do to avoid those issues. You don't want to scare your customers, but you do want them to understand what is required for a successful, long-lasting flooring or tile installation.
4) Sick of Getting Out-Bid? Reconsider How You Go After Jobs.
tile+installation+job+bid+adviceThe contractor who carefully examines the plan and addresses all necessary details – including surface preparation – may put in a higher bid than the contractor who only cares about getting the job. Know how to defend your bid, and have reliable references and a portfolio to explain the quality of your services.
To show your ability to stay within budget, consider submitting multiple bids. Bid to the spec, and submit an additional bid that reflects your opinion on the job and addresses concerns beyond the initial budget, like surface preparation or higher-quality setting materials. This strategy demonstrates that you understand the parameters of the job, but also allows you to be forthright about the best way to tackle the installation.
Customers that are familiar with your company will appreciate your work and understand its value. For that reason, maintaining and building relationships with repeat clients can be more effective and efficient than entering the competitive bid process. When planning your marketing efforts, keep previous designers and building owners in mind.
The key to working successfully as part of a project team is promoting communication and understanding. Open, honest communication between all members of the team, through all steps of the installation process, will help you avoid frustration, contribute to successful installations and build strong relationships that can lead to more business in the future.