As a contractor you’re more often than not managing several projects all at once, making this a required skill to succeed in the business. A lot of the confidence and know-how comes from experience, but there are fundamental efforts you can make to ensure good project management, whether you’re new to the business or an experienced veteran.
These tips are pretty much universal, but some of them carry extra weight in face of the pandemic, since this event made it so project management happens mostly at a distance and some formalities must be enforced to ensure an organized routine. Keep reading to learn more!
Learn to set expectations
This is a textbook tip on how to manage a client’s project correctly, but it really is a big deal. It’s important to not overhype a client’s expectations, but also not undersell it – you want to be in that sweet spot.
If you overhype, there’s a very good chance your client will be disappointed in some way. This can mostly happen in larger projects that encompass more dramatic changes to a client’s home, for example. But you also don’t want to undersell it, otherwise the client might lose interest and not realize how this project will have a positive impact in their life.
The best way to handle this is to bring up these expectations often while communicating with the client. Talk frequently about how the results will look, what to expect, deadlines, etc. All of this to make sure you and your client are on the same page.
Set realistic deadlines
Setting realistic deadlines goes hand-in-hand with the previous topic. With experience you’ll get better at this to the point of always knowing how to provide a comfortable deadline for both sides, but the pandemic makes this even more important.
For many contractors, not only is the usual workflow slowed down considerably, but deliveries for certain types of materials from third-party providers need to be taken into account. If these are necessary for your project, be sure to have a realistic estimate and also warn the client of possible delays due to circumstances out of your control.
Use a management hub that works for you
The good-old stickers on the wall method sure works for some people and there’s nothing wrong with it, but nowadays we have more advanced digital alternatives that are better suited for managing several projects without occupying an entire wall.
Everyone’s process is different though. For example, maybe all you need to manage a project is one single document on Microsoft Word or Google Docs. You have access to simple sheets, bullet points, writing, images, so you can get organized from there.
But there are many apps made specifically for project management, and since they come with the tools you can expect for this kind of work, they’re certainly worth a shot – especially for free. Here are some suggestions for you to try:
If you want to know more about these apps and others, check out these 10 apps that will help your contractor business!
Work with trustworthy pros
Finding and keeping a team of trustworthy pros isn’t something you can shortcut your way to, but the effort will be more than worth it. Nothing can disrupt a project more than having one or more of your hired pros fail to deliver, and that’s enough to hurt your client’s trust in almost irreparable ways.
In time however you will find a reliable team and at that point, you should do your best to keep it. Treat these pros fairly so that they’re happy to work with you and your projects will flow much smoother.
Opt for emails and video calls instead of informal messages
There’s nothing wrong with short text messages – they’re practical, quick, and to the point. But text messaging can often become unfocused and confused. Answering a few doubts and inquiries is fine, but save your important project updates and information to either emails or video meetings.
This is a way to formalize the dialogue and prevent the most important information from getting buried inside a cluttered string of texts, where it’s very easy to lose focus and even give out the wrong impression by accident. Luckily, video meetings are perfect for these updates since they carry a lot more weight. If you’re new to video calls, we have a guide for you right here.
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