Client Feedback Tool
  • “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” 3 Lessons you can learn from Don Corleone

    Posted on October 23rd, 2013 Sally Orcutt No comments

    It’s all about what you offer your clients.

    When Don Corleone made his offer, do you think he had his audience’s attention? Was it compelling to his listener?

    Here are 3 lessons you can learn from Don Corleone that will make your offer to your clients compelling enough to get their attention.Lessons from Don Corleone

    Treat people as individuals. The Don knew that people needed to be handled differently. He used fear to motivate some; respect, for others; and a swift kick in the pants for those like Johnny Fontaine. Do you treat all your clients the same? Have you developed project delivery systems that work well for your firm, and you continue to use the exact same system for all client project managers? Have you ever found yourself in a situation that required re-work or resulted in scope creep because your process did not meet some of those individuals’ expectations? When you treat each client project manager as an individual, and ask whether your process works for them, you build a bond with each one. The next time a project is coming up, this bond will ensure you get the chance to discuss the new work (and probably the inside scoop as well).

    Keep your word. The Don was no saint, but when he gave his word, everyone knew he could be counted on to keep it. Can your clients say the same? Have any of your project managers ever ‘over promised’ and ‘under delivered’? Has there ever been a different interpretation on what the final deliverable would be? Have you ever found out about this only after the project was complete and there was no opportunity to make a course correction? If you had asked at each milestone of the project whether your deliverables were ‘what they expected’, would that have made your client happier? Clients want solutions and they look to your firm to provide them. Knowing that your firm will ask them if their expectations are being met while there is still a chance to change course if needed, gives your clients the confidence that when you make an offer, they can count on you.

    Two ears and one mouth. The Don always listened carefully and didn’t do too much talking. He would sometimes ask for clarification, but he never interrupted. Are you listening to your clients? Are you giving them enough opportunities during the course of working with them to share their preferences so you can deliver on their expectations? Keeping open dialogue between you and your clients is essential to getting their attention (when you need it). You may feel that you are staying in touch with your client throughout their project because you give them regular updates. But is that dialogue? Are you sharing information with them? Or, are you asking them to share information with you?

    Our client feedback system is all about you – our client! It is process-based and integrates seamlessly into your existing project delivery system. We understand you don’t need ‘one more thing to do.’ And, we are committed to working with you to fit feedback into your culture to help you achieve your profitability goals. Contact us today. You can call us toll free at 866.433.7322, email us at answers@clientfeedbacktool.com or visit our website to see how are system works and get an overview of the process we’ll use when we help you create your plan!

    We look forward to having a dialogue with you!

  • Using Project Feedback to Increase Profitability

    Posted on October 9th, 2013 Ryan Suydam No comments

    Achieving consistent project profitability while maintaining strong client relationships is at the top of most firms’ goals and objectives. And, while there are certainly a number of variables that must be integrated to make this happen, asking your clients for feedback during the project plays a valuable role. I’ve identified two scenarios that are common in the A/E industry. Incorporating feedback into your project management process has been demonstrated to have a positive impact on both.financial growth

    Reduce (or eliminate) Re-work

    Streamlining the project delivery process is essential to creating project efficiencies that lead to increased profit on your job. But there are pitfalls to this approach unless you are getting regular project feedback from your clients. Let’s look at a scenario:

    You have done projects for one of your best clients for more than 10 years. You have developed a delivery process that seems to be working for them and it eliminates the need for your team to reinvent the wheel each time. Enter the new client project manager. This individual has their own set of expectations regarding how this project will proceed. And, although you all believe you were aligned when you left the kick-off meeting, suddenly there are 10 pages of comments to your first major submittal. They don’t like the format, they feel you have left out critical information, and generally they are looking for you to fix the problem which will require some significant re-work on your team’s part.

    How could project feedback have avoided this outcome? Firms that have integrated gathering feedback into their project management process understand the importance of requesting feedback after each milestone meeting or deliverable. In this scenario, a feedback request would have been sent after the initial meeting perhaps after the submission of the meeting minutes. This would give the project manager the opportunity to uncover gaps in expectations with this new project manager. Before his team began to move forward on the project, these gaps can be closed. In this scenario this would have meant deviating from the streamlined process at least a little, but that knowledge and flexibility would save many hours of re-work that kills a project budget.

    Avoid Scope Creep

    Scope creep is something most A/E firms understand all too well. You know what is needed to complete the project but the client is extremely cost conscious and asks you to remove several items to lower your fee. Depending upon the experience of the project manager involved, they may be able to complete the project to the client’s satisfaction. However, doing so will quite likely result in a lower profitability for your project. Let’s look at a scenario:

    You have been asked to design a renovation for a commercial building for a new client. This type of work is your specialty. You know all of the elements that will be needed to meet your client’s expectations for a successful project. However, when the client asks you to remove about 5% – 10% of the scope so that your fee will fit into their budget, you agree because this is a client that you really want to work with and your staff is a little light on work at the moment as well. As the project progresses, you run into problems because of the scope you removed and the client ‘forgets’ they asked you to remove these items and asks you to do what is needed to complete the project. Rather than ask your client for an increase in fee, you just finish the project with the fee you have been given. This involves both you and your team working extra hours and your profit still takes a hit.

    How could project feedback have avoided this outcome? Because this is a new client let’s assume that the opportunities to use feedback to avoid the fee reduction in the first place are limited. Requesting feedback from your client throughout the lifecycle of the project however, can play a significant role when the scope items you removed come back into play. Each time you send a feedback request to this client you are giving them the opportunity to let you know how well you efforts are matching their expectations. You are building the relationship with them that lets them know that you value your relationship with them and it is your goal to ensure the project outcome meets or exceeds their expectations. When the moment comes that the scope items you agreed to remove become essential to the project, this relationship will make the conversation to request additional fees more comfortable for both of you.

    Do either of these scenarios sound familiar to you? Visit our website or email us at answers@clientfeedbacktool.com to discuss how project feedback might increase your profitability metrics.