Managing and Marrying Client Expectations

Maintaining healthy client relationships during the course of a project and beyond requires continual commitment and hard work. Well-defined goals and expectations must be established early on in the design process. An integrative planning process included as part of the initial design process fosters buy-in from all parties, which may include the owners, users (including students and teachers with educational projects), local agencies, etc. Developing a project schedule with clearly identified project milestone dates is essential. Meeting these project milestone dates and maintaining on-going communication throughout the project keeps owners informed with progress. A conceptual budget must be established and the client reassured of cost control measures throughout each phase of the design process.

As professionals, we are viewed as experts and must follow-up promptly on any issues that arise during the course of a project and serve as true problem solvers. We build client relations through reassurance of efficient and timely project delivery. Professionals wear many hats throughout the duration of a project, and clients must feel comfortable that the project is being managed at various levels – especially with regard to project budget and schedule.

Professionals must remain flexible and offer alternative solutions and approaches to the multitude of issues that can arise during design and construction phases. Ultimately, comprehensive, clear, regular communication and information exchange (weekly meetings or calls at a minimum) is the best approach for maintaining a positive working relationship with a client.  In the end, it is our professional responsibility to be timely and responsive to all of our client needs.  By effectively managing and marrying client expectations, we strengthen the relationship moving forward and achieve a win-win for both client and professional.

Written by Bruce Bachtle, Principal and Partner of SCHRADERGROUP