Have It Your Way
Make it easy for your client to see things your way
So, you came up with a great idea that would save you a bunch of money or time on your project, and now you’re wondering what you can do with it. Is that about right? You figure if you ask your client about making this change, he’s going to ask you for some kind of a credit. What do you do? Maybe you should just implement the change, say nothing, and hope that he doesn’t notice.
Here’s the best way to make this happen. First off, we have to consider some reality: Your client believes that if you are the one who wants to make changes, then it is probably in your best interest, not his. So you need to help him see things the same way you do. He needs to believe that he is getting as much out of your request as you are.
Here’s an example. We had a paving project with multiple locations. The contract documents called for specific, large machinery to be used in the paving process. Now, this would have been OK if we had been able to pave the entire project all at once, but it wasn’t practical for this application. The best thing for the project and us was to complete a piece of it, get it covered up, protect it, and then work on other pieces of the project. But the specs were clear. What to do?
I wrote an RFI and advised the client that he had two choices: He could have the area paved now and placed under his control, ahead of schedule; or, he could wait, leave the area exposed to the elements, and pave it later, per the schedule.
Well, my client was presented with two options, both of them appearing to be about equal in cost to him, but just one of which gave him a finished product sooner. All he had to do in order to get this was just “OK” a small change to the specs. He’d get something he wanted for it, so he agreed to the request.
What did I get? I was able to sell an entire part of the project – fence it off and not have to touch it again. Complete!
It is amazing how often a client will be more supportive of you if he feels included in some of the decision-making. On the other hand, try making those decisions yourself, doing all of the layout, and then seeking approval of what you did on your own. Too often, there are criticisms of the choices you made in his absence. In other words, he doesn’t have any “skin in the game.” See the difference?
This year and next, as we are all trying to work our way through some difficult times, let’s maximize our opportunities. On any project, the mantra ought to be, “Get in, get out and get the money.” The longer you stay on a project, all things being equal, the less profit you will make. Do everything you can to keep the client on your side, particularly when it doesn’t cost any money. Get done, and get the money.
Make your client an “honorary” member of your team. A little involvement can go a long way. And, sometimes, clients actually have good ideas.
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About the Author
Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at FullContactTeam@gmail.com.
Copyright 2009 Gary Micheloni