5 ways to be a great client and achieve project success

17th May 2017

In this article Jamie Barrett , Evolution5 Managing Director and Trustee of the CIOB, considers 5 ways to be a great Client and how that can help maximise project success.

Any construction project requires a team who work well together. This applies to every role within the team and most definitely includes the Client.

There is no such thing as a typical construction client. They are varied and wide, they may be hugely experienced, completely inexperienced or at any point in between. From within the construction industry or not, private or public sector, and on a sliding scale from good to bad!

Each client brings with them their own unique needs, wants, likes, dislikes, preconceptions, misconceptions and of course, idiosyncrasies.

For a supplier this makes for a challenging environment in which to operate and it becomes rather tricky to keep everyone happy. The Client/Supplier relationship is a fundamental, and therefore one of the most crucial, relationships in every project.

So, what makes a great client?

  • You, and they, know what they want from the get-go

Assertive clients are the best. They know what they want, when they want it and what it looks like. Project Managers love this kind of Clients. The Project Manager can accurately record the brief during the initial stages of a project and confidently disseminate the information to the wider team as it develops.

Construction projects can go ‘south’ when the brief is not clearly defined or is an ever-moving feast. Quantity surveyors find themselves struggling to provide a reliable cost estimate and designers are unsure where to start and finish. With clearly defined parameters from the outset, the Client has the best chance of receiving a product, and services, that meet their needs. And suppliers can deliver on their promises.

It’s a win – win.

  • They see value in what you’re offering

By virtue of the sheer diversification of construction clients there will always be those who value your service and those who consider it a necessary evil.

The latter generally tend to procure your services due to ‘internal policy’ or they prefer that the risk of delivery is not retained in-house. In other words they know how to do it, but choose not to. Generally, your advice is ignored, you are required follow a prescribed format and it is a difficult environment in which to really demonstrate value.

However, the great clients put together a team of suppliers in order to make their project goals and aspirations a reality. They fully appreciate that, without the professionalism, knowledge and experience of their team, they would not achieve their desired outcomes.

Speaking as a supplier it is extremely rewarding to work for clients with this attitude and approach. You can draw upon your knowledge and experience and apply it to their project to make cost, quality and time efficiencies, to manage risk and, not forgetting, to deliver a fantastic end product!

  • Treat the supply chain fairly

From a contractual perspective, Client/Supplier relationships will always be one of master and servant. However, in practice, there is no need for the relationship to work like this.

Great clients treat their suppliers fairly and with respect, which in most cases is reciprocated and facilitates both the Client and Supplier to form relationships and build trust. The Client creates an environment where they get the very best out of their suppliers and the Supplier works in an environment where they can give their very best.

  • Take responsibility for their actions

When clients don’t take responsibility for their actions, suppliers may hope the problem will go away or fix itself. This is usually because the relationship with the Client isn’t completely open meaning the Supplier doesn’t want to upset the apple-cart, make a fuss or embarrass their client. Who would?

In these circumstances, the impact can be detrimental to the clients’ project, the working environment and individual relationships.

Great clients realise their actions create reactions both positive and negative and that these choices shape the success of their project.

  • Pay on time

Late payments are endemic in the construction industry (despite changes in legislation, fair payment provisions and payment notices). And rather strangely, this is widely accepted as ‘all part of business’. There are few, if any, other industries where this would be acceptable practice.

Clients who make payments to suppliers on time have a positive impact on the financial planning, control and implementation of their project and their suppliers business. This affects all businesses but is especially pertinent for SME suppliers who comprise a significant part of the industry supply chain.

By making payments on time the Client can help to reduce undue stress and strain on members of the supply chain and prevent an adverse effect on the delivery of services and products to them.

More importantly, paying SME’s on time can be the difference between their success or failure!

At Evolution5 the team are experienced in working with a wide spectrum of clients and are skilled in coaching and supporting you to get the best out of your team and, subsequently, your project.

Let us help you be a great Client and exceed your project aspirations.

Call 023 8040 5073 for your free, no obligation consultation.