It’s easy to feel at the mercy of others as a contractor. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Clients owe you as much of their time as you owe them. Even if you came to them, you did so because they need a job done, and you are the best at it. But are they the best for you?
Before beginning a new project, clients will ask several questions regarding your expertise, cost, and previous work. You should not leave that first meeting without asking some questions yourself. Doing your due diligence can save you late or non-payments and the headache of working for noncommunicative people.
Ask for all the relevant details
We know you know this, but it’s always worth going over the basics. The following question can be modified to work for developers and private clients.
Time: When shall it start? How long is it predicted to take? When will it conclude? When are invoices paid?
Money: How much will you be paid (if the rate is preset by the developers)? When will you be paid? What about unforeseeable costs (damage to tools or supplies)? What does the insurance on-site look like?
Location: Where is the project exactly? How will you get there? Is travel paid for?
How to stay in contact
It is frustrating enough when clients don’t give all the above details, but then being unable to reach them is even worse. Double-check the phone number given to you and ask for an emergency contact number in case the first one doesn’t work. It is also important you clarify when the best hours to call are. You want to be courteous so know if you can call past 5 pm or early in the morning. Ask also for email details, both to send invoices to but also to keep a record of conversations and project plans.
Ask for references
Providing references for your own work is common practice, but you should feel confident asking for theirs as well. If you are about to work with a new developer you need to make sure you won’t be left stranded without being paid. Find out if they have undertaken a project like this before and how it went. How long did it take and how successful was it? This reference can either be required by asking directly or searching on publicly available databases for the record of companies you are considering working with.
One-off or long term
On the topic of private clients, it is always good to try turning them into loyal customers. Find out if this project is a one-off or if it could lead to long term projects. Do they have several properties? Are they planning future renovations? Be involved and show interest in helping with their plans for the future.
How certain is the project to go-ahead
Lastly, the worst thing that could happen second only to not being paid for a project, is having that project being ditched altogether. We all know that jobs can be hard to come by and if you depend on several one-off jobs during the month, having a job fall through can mean a hole in your budget plan. Make sure you get written confirmation that the job offered will be happening. Where possible ask for a type of insurance in case of cancellation. A deposit is the most common form and can be deducted from the final price once the job is completed.
Always remember that these people have contacted you because they need your skills and expertise. Asking the above questions is important to protect your business.
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