Being a good construction client should be a pretty easy job, right? You ask for what you need, send a check, and show up when the work is complete, right?

Not exactly. As a buyer of construction management services, there are certain ingredients that contribute to a successful and efficient building process.

So what can you do to be an awesome client? Let’s find out.

Fantastic Clients Have These Characteristics:

Find the Right Partner from the Get-Go – The first part of being a great client is identifying a partner that fits your needs. If you’re about to build a restaurant and you hire a general contractor that has never built a restaurant before, you’re starting off on the wrong foot. Do your research to determine the right match upfront- ask around to determine who is qualified to build what you need, and make sure they’re known for having a great reputation and being easy to work with. And if a restaurant happens to be what you are building, check out our blog on how to work with a general contractor to build a restaurant.

Get Organized – It’s always helpful when clients have their house in order prior to bringing on a general contractor – there’s a lot you can do to set the project up for success. Here are a few examples.

  • Get your paperwork ready to go – do you plan to use specific bid forms? What about contracts? Where are you on permits? Make sure your paperwork is ready for your general contractor so the project can get started right away.
  • Get your finances in place – understand how far your budget can realistically stretch and know how you’ll handle changes. Set yourself up to pay bills on time.
  • Start with great plans – a detailed set of plans with the specifics a general contractor will need, down to the specs of the light switches, will help provide clear direction for the team.

Know Your Stuff or Know that You Don’t. An entrepreneur building their first shop is going to have a different set of construction management skills than an in-house construction manager who’s been building with the same company for 20 years. Our in-house construction clients know their plans really, really, well and that’s helpful to us in a lot of respects. They pull us in on brainstorming at the new space and need our help executing the build and problem solving on site. Our independent franchise or business owners often recognize that they aren’t construction experts and lean on us to guide them. Either way works, but it’s helpful when clients know what category they’re in.

Be Available. Be Decisive. When clients can make themselves available for questions, and they’re able make decisions quickly, the projects always run more smoothly. Communication goes both ways. We are always available to our clients, and we also really appreciate it when our clients are available to us. During the construction process, we often find ourselves at a fork in the road and the faster clients can be available to make decisions – and stick with those decisions – the better.

Get Involved & Get Out of the Way – While those two tips might sound like opposites, hear us out. First, visit the job site often so if you don’t like something you can fix it before a change becomes too costly. But, at the same time, choose a great general contractor and then trust them to manage your project. Ask them for their opinion when you’re not sure. If you’ve chosen a reputable GC then they’ve been down this road before and can help with every aspect of the construction process; that often spills over into business consulting… especially when it comes how you’re going to run your operations in your space.

Be a Team Player, and Know You’re a Big Part of the Team – You’re a big part of making sure this construction project runs smoothly. What can you do to drive the process in a positive way? If you only do one thing, be a team player – there are so many ways you can help, but here are a few ways to start:

  • – Be reasonable with your requests and respect your team’s time.
  • – Make decisions quickly to keep momentum going on the jobsite.
  • – Maintain a great attitude on the jobsite to keep the atmosphere positive.
  • – Talk budget with your project manager, not the tradesmen on the jobsite.
  • – If you’re making purchases separately, ensure your materials or equipment arrives on time.
  • – Be flexible with materials, especially during these times of unprecedented supply chain issues, and if your GC says you need to make a change to hit your deadline then consider it.
  • – Say thanks – Some pizza or just a quick thank you to your team goes a long way.

We’ve written other blog posts that might help you be a great client – everything from how to bid out your commercial construction project to how to keep momentum on your project to considerations around hiring a general contractor versus doing it yourself.

Bottom line, there’s a lot you can do to contribute to a smooth running commercial construction project. At the end of the day, it’s your money, it’s your project, and you and your team will be using the space. As a general contractor, we’re here to help you get the best return on your construction dollar. It’s all about the teamwork. Reach out if we can be of assistance in getting you started.