Managing Client Expectations

By | 05/18/2015


Managing client expectations is an important part of business. Over-promising and under-delivering are a fast track to dissatisfaction. The truth is that many clients expect to be disappointed when dealing with any type of contractor. As an MSCA GreenSTAR leader, managing client expectations is your opportunity to break the mold and not only meet your client’s expectations, but go beyond anything they were expecting.

We all know that exceeding, and not just meeting, client expectations will earn repeat business and quality referrals—but how do you get there?

We asked Stan Butts, vice president of business development at Indoor Environmental Services (IES), about his perspective on how to manage and exceed client expectations. As the majority of IES’ business is generated from word-of-mouth and Stan’s 25 years of experience in the HVAC, lighting and performance contracting industry, the tips and tricks he shares below can be applied to all aspects of your business and, of course, to the benefit of your customers.

Never sell, always listen

No two clients are the same, and their expectations are unique 100 percent of the time. Take the time to sit down with your client and listen to what they are trying to accomplish. Don’t focus on what you are trying to sell them; focus on what they need. Delivering a fantastic project is a team approach, and your client is part of your team. Listen to them; their voice and opinion are just as valuable—if not more so—than yours.

Have an established process

Conduct your audit before you sit down with your client, and create an initial priority list based on your team’s professional assessment. Then, sit down with your client and listen to their priorities. Go back with your team, review your initial priority list and adjust according to your client’s perspective. Then, deliver a priority list that encompasses both your audit recommendations and your client’s voiced concerns—your client will feel like a partner in the project.

Maintain cost integrity

We have all started a project with a concrete plan and then encountered a “hiccup” along the way. Don’t blindside your client with additional fees for unexpected challenges; instead fix the problem without changing the scope of work. As the expert, it is your responsibility to conduct a thorough audit to ensure that you get it right the first time. Remember: providing a service “gratis” will go a long way with your client and have a positive impact on your reputation and subsequent referrals.

Be a night owl

Shock and awe your client by beating deadlines and facilitating their comfort. Ask your team if they are willing to work after hours when tenants have left the building. While night-shift scheduling can increase your staffing costs, your team will be able to work more efficiently because they do not have to be concerned with being disruptive to occupants. Bonus: Your client will appreciate your respect for the work environment and for completing the project ahead of schedule. 


*Attributed to Stan Butts, VP of Business Development at IES.



The GreenSTAR program was established in 2007 by the Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA), the nation's leading trade association for HVACR contractors, providing education, marketing and labor/management services to assure its members deliver quality performance, value and expertise for all building system needs.