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Builder Reputation Basics: One Make-or-Break Factor You Can't Miss

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Quality Matters

Builder Reputation Basics: One Make-or-Break Factor You Can't Miss

If you do nothing else, do this one thing to ensure you have a great relationship with the client right from the start. Your reputation depends on it

By Andrew Shipp December 4, 2022
Construction site supervisor on phone at jobsite communicating details about the home build
During construction, site supervisors need to be the “eyes and ears” of your homebuyers, providing updates, assurances, and specifics—good and bad—to maintain trust, alleviate frustration, and reduce stress. | Photo: seanlockephotography / stock.adobe.com
This article first appeared in the November/December 2022 issue of Pro Builder.

As a home builder, you control your reputation in the market, and valuable word of mouth depends on how well you execute a handful of items to foster positive customer perceptions and great reviews. The no-brainer basics are relatively easy but impactful, such as keeping your jobsites clean, delivering a completed product on time, and responding promptly to post-closing service requests. But, when it comes to your reputation, there’s one, less tangible, thing that can make or break everything else you do right: effective communication—specifically, the relationship between your jobsite supervisor and the homebuyers during their initial (or pre-) construction meeting.

That meeting is the first and best opportunity during the production phase to start building mutual trust between the customer and the person who will be overseeing their home’s construction. It effectively lays the groundwork for a great relationship throughout the build and after closing.


Doing it well isn’t difficult. As a former supervisor for a Denver-area production builder, I found that not all of my peers were blessed with the greatest of interpersonal skills, but if they followed a few simple guidelines, an initial customer meeting could be executed quite well and give the homeowners a positive feeling about you, your company, and the job ahead.

Why Getting to Know Your Client Is Essential

First, and most important, establish a baseline relationship by spending the first few minutes of the meeting getting to know the customer: what they do for a living, where they’re from. Ask about their family life, hobbies, and other interests. Listen for shared interests or backgrounds, and briefly tell them about yourself, too.

While this step may seem obvious (or maybe unnecessary or uncomfortable), I can’t overstate its importance. People trust people with whom they have a connection, and that only happens when you take the time to show a genuine interest beyond their wallet.

Step by Step: Set Expectations for Clients

From there, the super needs to set realistic expectations about each phase of the build. Consider the buyer who stops by to look at the house weeks before closing and is shocked to see drywall damage, then immediately seeks to get it repaired.

But if you educate buyers early on about your punch list and touch-up process, they’ll know that cosmetic damage is normal and will be fixed prior to close.

The initial construction meeting also is the time to set expectations for future communication. Like a passenger whose flight is delayed but gets no information from the airline, homebuyers can become irritated quickly (and rightfully so) if they are surprised by missed deadlines or vague excuses—no matter the cause.

Homeowners in the kitchen with the site supervisor for the project
The first meeting between your site supervisor and a homebuyer should focus on gaining mutual trust through listening and sharing experiences, as well as setting realistic expectations for the construction process and ongoing communication. | Photo: goodluz / stock.adobe.com

On the flip side, a delayed airline passenger who knows how long it will be until their flight takes off can adjust. And in these uncertain times of supply chain delays, it’s critical to be proactive about issues that may alarm or frustrate buyers.

With that, lay out the schedule for future meetings, such as pre-drywall, pre-close, and the closing walk-through. Buying a house is a huge commitment and it can be stressful, so make sure customers know when they will receive updates to help alleviate some of their uncertainty and worry.

How well this meeting goes is key to a buyer’s perception of your company as a quality home builder. Unfortunately, a lot of builders don’t think about how critical this early-stage rapport is to their reputations and referral business. But those that make it a priority to establish a meaningful relationship at the start are the same home builders whose customers love their work.

Andrew Shipp drives quality and performance in home building as a building performance specialist on the PERFORM Builder Solutions team at IBACOS.

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