Thursday, March 13, 2014

Managing Expectations

A call came in recently from an interior designer who is interviewing for a position on the Project Team with a new client of ours. We're big on Project Teams! Matter of fact, I've written a whole book on the subject. Time and again the most successful projects in which we have ever been involved all have had a Project Team. There's no substitute for hiring your professionals early in the process, charging them with responsibility and parameters, and managing their creativity. Saves all kinds of time (read: you don't have to "re-do"), and money - promise!

Anyway... before giving our new client a proposal for her services the interior designer wanted to understand how we like to administrate our projects. In other words, what are our expectations. Huh...imagine that. Someone willing to invest some time in the project BEFORE getting hired to better understand what our needs, desires, and expectations might be! If I get a vote - she's hired!

Every client that walks through our office door comes with a full set of expectations. They may not realize it at the time, but sure enough, once we get down to brass tacks those expectations are right there. 'Building our home shouldn't take more than 6 months, should it?' 'What does it cost per square foot to build our home - you can do it for $125psf can't you?' 'I'm going to live upstairs while you remodel the downstairs.' Some of the expectations are just as obvious as these while some are much more subtle. 'Once the project is under roof we don't expect you will have any weather delays.' 'Surely you won't mind if we provide all of the ceramic tile for our home...' Or even 'you'll have someone on-site managing our project at all times, won't you?'  Hundreds, maybe even thousands of expectations come with every project. Everyone paints pictures in their mind of how situations will turn out. Without sitting down and hashing it out, a formula for disaster has just been defined!

Builders should all do what our wives want us to do more of anyway - COMMUNICATE! A healthy dose of ANTICIPATION doesn't hurt either. We need to be about the business of trying to understand what our clients expect.

Homeowners also share in the responsibilities of communicating and anticipating, yet because they are not seasoned building professionals they often don't know what questions to ask. Not knowing what questions to ask speaks to the heart of building a Project Team. Though unclear about what information may be necessary, most people "know people," and that's precisely what makes up the Project Team. By selecting your architect, builder, interior designer, and landscape architect based on natural chemistry, an advantage will be gained by hiring advocates who will guide you through the oftentimes scenic journey of building or remodeling. These professionals will also help you define your expectations. And not only "define," but shape those expectations into realistic goals for your Project Team. 

I know, I know....slowing down to take the time to build a Project Team is like ripping the wrapping paper off a highly anticipated gift only to find out that you must fully assemble it before you truly know what it can do! We don't live in a world that likes to wait on ANYTHING!! So add one more thing to your contrarian list in life - the less project planning you do upfront, the more time energy and money you will spend on your overall project! 

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