Trust is essential in any line of business. For contractors, establishing a relationship as a trustworthy partner is essential if they are to regularly attract work. But how can you ensure current and future clients see you in this way? Read our top five tips to find out:
1. Always appear professional
Nothing damages trust like an unprofessional appearance. Everything from your email address to the clothes you wear can have an impact on how clients perceive you, so make sure you have every base covered when it comes to looking professional. It's particularly important to ensure your social media presence fits in with your professional image, as this information is easily accessible. It has become commonplace for businesses to check social media profiles before taking on contractors, so consider these networks an extension of your personal brand. Use privacy settings to control what people can and can't see and make sure any publicly-available information supports your professional image.
2. Under promise, over deliver
This is a simple concept that can work wonders for building trust and improving your relationship with clients. The premise is straightforward; if a client asks when they can expect to receive a piece of work, purposely give them a deadline that is a little longer than you actually need to complete the project. Deliver the work ahead of this deadline and the client will get the impression that you have overperformed, without you having to actually do anything extra.
Of course, you do need to be realistic with this principle, as drastically under promising could actually damage the client's trust. However, by subtly under promising and over delivering, you can easily make a positive impression, cementing client trust in the process.
3. Never miss a deadline
Obvious but true; if you miss deadlines, clients will be hesitant to trust you. Avoid this by ensuring expectations are always made clear at the start of the process and both you and the client are on the same page when it comes to the deadline. If anything should come up that means you are likely to miss a deadline, contact the client as soon as possible and let them know what the situation is. They are far more likely to accept a missed deadline if they have been forewarned and given a good reason why. Under promising and over delivering, as described above, can help to reduce the likelihood of deadlines being missed.
4. Set realistic expectations
Honesty counts for a lot in business relationships. When taking on work, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. If a client is asking for something that is outside of your capabilities or beyond their budget, don't be afraid to tell them. Likewise, if they expect the work to be completed in an unrealistic timeframe, make them aware of the situation.
It's much better to be honest from the outset, even if it means turning down work, than to knowingly take on a project that is beyond you and be faced with a disgruntled client later down the line. Raise your concerns at the beginning and there is a good chance a compromise could be reached. Take on too much and fail to meet expectations and your relationship could be irreversibly damaged.
5. Show willing to build a long-term professional relationship
Clients will find it much easier to trust you if they get the impression that you are looking to build a long-term relationship, rather than simply trying to make a quick buck. Take the time to get to know your clients and maintain regular contact with them even if you have no active projects. This way, you'll be at the front of their mind when work does come around and will be viewed as a trusted partner rather than an unknown entity.