In this final installment of our four part series we will cover how it is a REALTOR can make their contractor want to keep working with them and ensure the contractor is providing not only the product they need, but also in the style and timeframe the REALTOR needs.
In [Part 1 of 4] we went over some of the absolute wrong and right things to say to a contactor. In [Part 2 of 4] we talked about ways to build rapport and communication with the contractor. In [Part 3 of 4] we covered ways to refine and hone the relationship with the contractor in order to build trust and loyalty. All of these topics have been geared to our key goal: how to make increasing ethical profits. In this these series-ending installment we go over ideas for project management and workflow between the realtor and the contractor that will help the almighty after tax net profit we all so enthusiastically chase.
After building trust, refine communication systems.
Now that the trusting relationship has been built and there is a process to
refine the professional interaction for efficiency it’s time to assess: How has the current model been going? Having ‘Gone to Dinner’, what was found to need improvement? Because you ‘Went to coffee’ and ‘Went to lunch’ you, as the REALTOR, have an understanding of the contractors words and actions in order to make productive suggestions.
Now is the time to work out systems and procedures to streamline those projects. A strategy that I find very useful is to follow up with emails and
group texts. As an example, I have several construction projects going as General Contractor and a couple going where I am a Sub-Contractor. As you can imagine, this requires a large amount of communication. In addition, I have legal and expert witness cases going at all times too. All of these balls in the air require a strategy for information management and a way to catalog it all. I find three strategies work well for me.
- Using iMessage to ‘loop in’ people on group texts to make sure there is no miscommunication of the original instruction.
- Following up via email and cc’ing relevant parties.
- Using the iCal or Google calendar to send invites to people for meetings or deadlines.
As you can imagine, when you are in many group texts or long chains of emails it is very hard to make use of the information. It is the present problem that intelligent agencies are having in Washington and on Downing Street in England, there is so much information that it is hard to keep track of. My strategies for this include only looping in the needed parties to the message or email. What I mean by this is that I always take moment to think. This may sound like an obvious thing to say, but, I can’t tell you how many times I get an off the cuff answer from a lawyer or professional that makes little to no sense or I get cc’ed on an email where I am not even sure why I was included. Before sending a group email I think, do I need to loop someone in and, while they may not need to know now, will they need this information for a future decision?
I always remember I can forward an email chain if later someone needs to be
looped in. What I can’t undo is plugging up someone’s time with imprecise and superfluous emails and texts that kill efficiency and will to work. My general guidelines in communication between REALTORS and Contractors are this:
- If they need to know now, group text with all the parties that need to know.
- If they need to know by tomorrow, or if email is the way we have been communicating, email with need to know parties cc’ed.
- If I need to stop a fire or someone’s life is in danger, I make a phone call, then follow up with an email.
- When there is a conversation onsite or at a meeting with Contractor always follow up with an email saying something like:
- “Per our conversation” or “To follow up on our conversation” or “My understanding of our conversation is”.
This may seem like a problem and a lot of work. Think of it this way though: By having a written record of the conversation that led up to the disagreement, you can avoid disputes and litigation. After employing these strategies and the communication refinement from [Parts 1 of 4] and [Parts 3 of 4] these written communications will have context and meaning, and if there is ever a dispute you will be able to look back at the usage in prior dealings discussed in [Part 3 of 4] for how the courts will interpret the words used in prior dealings.
Staying on the Same Page about the Market with Contractor
This may seem redundant and unnecessary. I mean, after all, we are Brokers and Agents, right? That is our job, to keep our fingers on the pulse of the market. You’d be surprised though how much information a contractor can glean and take to heart when given updates about the market and the reasons behind your decisions and suggestions about needed updates and modernizations.
Again, we must take a minute to think. In our fast paced world that is constantly asking for time and stretching us ever thinner, analysis of who needs to be looped in is a very good idea. Here, telling a contractor your rationale for the decision or modernization, based on what the market will support, will enable the contractor to bring you more and more options of what is possible, and an estimate of the costs and the timelines for each. According to the California Association of Realtors, the Median Detached Home Price in February of 2017 was $478,790. What this screams to me as a contactor is that there is room to add upgrades to a home in order to help my REALTOR client make a home more saleable and able to draw in potential buyers. As can be seen from the graph above, the market changes from month to month and my suggestions to REALTORS would change to adapt to the changing market. But, I am an anomaly in the construction world as I am a Real Estate Broker and Attorney in addition to a Contractor so I spend a large amount of time monitoring the markets. Monitoring real estate markets is not something the average contractor would do. That is where you as the REALTOR come in and inform your Contractor.
By educating your contractor you are letting them know the style and methods and quality that the project will support and what suggestions to bring to. You, as the REALTOR, are able to weed out about 951 different suggestions by your contractor that could be done, but may not necessarily be appropriate for your project. Instead, the contractor, with the knowledge of the budget and timelines, can give you options of what would fit your project. Having these defined and clear is a huge time saver. In addition, if you are employing the communication refinement strategies from earlier in the article your contract won’t bog you, the REALTOR, down with superfluous emails. By having brief or long market chats with your contractor you are able to have the parameters of ‘need to know’ defined so you get communications that are more relevant and on point.
There are other benefits to market updates I have experienced. I have updated contractors about the market and they, in turn, have forwarded the information to their friends and family and then I received referrals because of their confidence that I am knowledgeable of market conditions. The goal as in [Part 2 of 4] in this series is to make money and have a two-way professional relationship with your contractor.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
The point of this closing article to the series is to remember a few things that truly help the REALTOR and Contractor form a symbiotic and fruitful relationship. I have learned many of these lessons the hard way being a Real Estate Broker and Contractor on both sides of the equation:
- Find out how your contractor works and the technology they use.
- Employ the technology and work out an agreement with the contractor about how communication will be sent.
- Work up your own ‘rules of engagement’ as above in who should get the text or email, who needs to know, etc…
- Follow up after a conversation with an email
- THINK about who you are cc’ing or looping into a text.
- Too much communication is worse than not enough.
- In this day and age of written communication there is no excuse for ever saying “Remember in our conversation you promised”
If you follow these or develop your own communication practices you relationship with your Contractor will blossom and be more fruitful and cross-pollinate each other’s business.
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DISCLAIMER: Let me stop here to give you the boilerplate disclaimer. Every situation in law, real estate and building is different. Do not rely on this article to make decisions on your specific situation. Every matter is different and requires that you talk to a professional. If you want to talk to me about your matter see my contact below. Nothing in this article shall be construed to create an attorney client relationship or partnership.
Dan Knight is principle at Dan Knight Construction & Plumbing and The Law Office of Daniel J. Knight. He is a third generation building contractor, attorney, real estate broker, Construction Management lecturer at Cal Poly State University, Lead Instructor at Cuesta Community College Construction Tech. Program in San Luis Obispo and a former San Luis Obispo City Planning Commissioner.
His practice focuses on construction defect expert witness engagements, construction defect representation, land use and zoning, public interest real property matters, and private real property matters.
Phone 805-316-1180 | Email: Dan@NerdContractor.com
Twitter: @Nerd_Contracor | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/danieljackknight.com
Office Location: 1103 Johnson Ave #H, San Luis Obispo CA 93401