Five Tips for General Contractors on How to Deal with Impatient Clients

Here are five tips that can help your client relax a bit and encourage a positive testimonial at the end of the project.

1. Present a reasonable project schedule at the start.

The biggest mistake a contractor can make is giving in to a client’s demands for an unrealistic completion date. Making a promise that you likely can’t keep will end up hurting you more than losing a sale. Leave room in the schedule for the possibilities of delays. Better to finish ahead of schedule than to miss your deadline and have an angry customer.

2. Be proactive with communication about scheduling changes.

A well-informed client will be a happy client. If the countertops were cut wrong and have to be re-ordered, let your client know about the problem right away. Again, be realistic about how the problem is going to affect the rest of the schedule. Always try to give them answers to questions before they ask them.

3. Set due dates for product selections.

Give due dates for decisions when clients have to make selections on floor covering, light fixtures, or other items after the contract is signed. Explain the timeline from order to delivery on these items and how a delay or change in a selection can affect the completion date of their project.

4. Do written change orders for changes that affect the schedule.

Remember that your contract with the client includes a timeline as well as a dollar amount. When the client requests changes that don’t increase the costs but do affect the project’s completion date, have that timeline change approved in writing by the client before you proceed. Never assume that they understand how their decisions affect the schedule.

5. Maintain a professional attitude when clients are unreasonable.

Some clients will expect the impossible, regardless of how proactive you are with communication. If the client blows his stack about a delay, make sure you and your employees take the high road and stay calm. Train project managers and field foremen on how to handle impatient clients in a professional manner.


The Clausen Agency Inc., has learned a lot about the challenges of general contractors from our contractor clients. Having proper insurance coverage helps your customers understand that you have their best interests in mind. Give us a call when it’s time to review your general liability and worker’s comp coverage.

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