Some state and local governments are starting to lift restrictions on construction and other economic activity, but it’s going to be a long time before it’s business as usual. In the meantime, you have a business to run and customers to keep happy.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep those relationships running smoothly and reduce the chances of lost sales or project cancellations.
Communicate Early and Often
It’s more important than ever to keep lines of communication open with clients, vendors, workers, subcontractors, and any other involved party. Not only does COVID-19 come with a lot of uncertainty, the nature of the situation means information is changing often.
First, if you haven’t already done so, make sure you have alternate contact information and secondary contacts for anyone you might need to reach quickly. With so many people working remotely, the contact information you have may no longer be the best way to reach them.
How and how often you communicate will depend on the circumstances in your area. Factors to consider include:
- Are customers going to need reassurance that their project is still progressing?
- Do you need to ensure suppliers are ready to send materials?
- Is your workforce (and your subcontractors’ workforce) ready to start working when you get the ‘all clear’?
No matter when you’re reaching out, or which platform you use to do it, transparency is key. Customers will appreciate clear communication about where things stand – and if you don’t have solid answers to some questions, it’s fine to say so. The last thing you want to do is make promises you can’t keep.
Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
The economy and supply chain have seen a lot of upheaval. As suppliers, subcontractors, and customers pivot to deal with their own economic pressures, the fallout can impact your ability to complete projects.
Take time now to review your contracts and ensure you know exactly what your rights are if a customer wants or needs to delay or terminate a project. You’ll also want to review any risks or liabilities you might face if a supplier or subcontractor pulls out of a project or can’t meet their obligations. It’s a good idea to involve your lawyer, as there may be potential repercussions he or she is in a better place to foresee.
Start strategizing now about how you’ll deal with any of these complications if they crop up. Advanced gameplanning could save you time, stress, and money later. If you have certain projects that seem particularly vulnerable to cancellation, consider contacting those customers first. If you can proactively address their concerns and get up-to-date information about where they stand, you may be able to find a solution shy of cancellation that works well for both parties.
How to Handle Pending Projects
For any projects that were about to be finalized, pursue them if you can – but be sure to give yourself some extra protection. The economic impacts of COVID-19 will be with us for a while, and no one is sure what they might become. Any contracts you enter now should include language that specifically addresses additional COVID-19 impacts. Contact your lawyer for specific help in determining what possibilities this language should cover in your future contracts.
COVID-19 has created a challenging business environment for every building professional. Taking steps now to protect your company and reassure customers can make it easier to navigate these turbulent times.