“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan
Even the GOAT failed, and he attributed those failures to his undeniable success. It’s not about the shots you miss, it’s about how you follow up and about what you learn. It’s about the next shot. Now, as home industry professionals, we don’t have the luxury of 9,000 misses, because our clients depend on us for results, and we need to deliver with consistency. That said, we’re human and mistakes and missteps happen. How do we rebound from them – and turn failure into success?
Facing a Difficult Client Situation?
What does “failure” look like in the home construction and design industry? It could look like an estimate or projected budget that was not accurate. It could look like a delay that, to your client, is unreasonable. It could look like a mistake made in the wiring of a house that will cost more time and money or a plumbing project that is more complex than initially expected. It could look like an email or a phone call that was not returned promptly – or at all.
In other words, it could look like just about anything. Failure is likely to take the form of unintentional mistakes, miscommunications, or even misconceptions on the part of clients (ever have a client blame you for the weather, for example, or for having a 100 year old house with secrets, and bad wiring behind its walls?). Regardless, it is important to treat these situations seriously – and as the opportunities they can be.
5 Tips to Turn Failure into Success
You’re facing a difficult client situation; you may even lose them, and the income they could infuse into your business. What do you do?
- Acknowledge the Situation. Do not ignore difficult or negative situations; they won’t just go away. Listen to your client and their concerns. Acknowledge that there is a problem or challenge and emphasize that you are 100% committed to resolving it. Oftentimes, people in the midst of a home building or improvement project, they’re feeling stressed and strained. They may just need to talk; they may need your help. And yes, they may be angry. Whatever the case, give them your ear. It’s the first step to learning from failure and turning the situation around.
Make sure you fully understand the issue at hand and have a clear grasp of the facts. Is it a communication problem? A scheduling problem? A budget problem? What’s going on? Get the information you need to move ahead.
- Take Accountability. Is it your fault? Ultimately, it does not matter whether it is or isn’t. What matters is how you approach the situation from here on out. Yes, there’s an issue, and yes, you are taking responsibility for resolving the problem. Telling the homeowner “I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not my fault. It’s not my problem.”, won’t fix anything. What they need now is a way to get back on track.
- Find a Solution. Find a viable solution to address the issue. Let’s take a relatively common scenario: you didn’t return an email from a client who asked a question about the status of their project. It happens; maybe you were running around all day, maybe it slipped your mind; maybe you didn’t have time.
The solution? Prioritize client communications and allocate 30 minutes at the end of the day to answer queries; delegate this responsibility to a project manager; implement a solution like BuilderTrend so clients can access important information online, anytime they need. Whatever the solution, tell your client exactly how you will address the issue and keep it from reoccurring.
- Apologize – and Act. You cannot control the weather; you cannot always anticipate what secrets lie behind the walls of an older home. But when you do make a misstep that impacts the client’s project, apologize. It does not weaken your position. Rather, it emphasizes that you are a professional and that you are there to deliver. “I’m sorry; we are doing A, B, and C to correct the situation” goes a long way in building trust and reassuring clients that you will get the job done.
- Analyze, Learn, Change. What happened? Where did the project or communications go off track? What could you do differently in the future? Take the opportunity to look at the situation, learn from it, and implement key changes that move your business forward.
People fail; we’re only human after all. But we don’t have to repeat the same mistakes, and we can apply lessons learned to avoid other issues. When we learn from failure, we improve in the future.
Leveraging Failure to Build a Better Business
Failure is not the “F” word. It is not to be hidden from, denied, or ignored. Rather, think of these tough situations as opportunities to make meaningful changes and build stronger relationships with your clients. If you can address a problem proactively using the tips above, you will likely also find that you turn a client who is angry, dissatisfied, or frustrated into one of your strongest brand advocates.
Why not also learn from other artisan’s failures? Hey, if you don’t have to make a mistake yourself and still benefit, all the better! With Home Artisans of Indiana, you’ll be part of a community of like-minded home improvement professionals and have access to roundtable discussions, exclusive resources, and peer-to-peer conversations that can help you grow. Let’s build better businesses together – and use failure as an opportunity to learn. Contact Home Artisans of Indiana to learn more.