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How can contractors and builders make mistakes right?

No matter how conscientious a builder or contractor may be, everyone makes mistakes. But your reputation is on the line, so your response must be both timely and adequate to avoid losing business. How can you keep a mistake from turning into a deal-breaker?

One business coach and small business owner advises clients to respond with integrity and honesty, saying that "[t]he problem is rarely the error itself — it's how you handle it."

Contractors should contact their clients immediately upon noticing that something is awry. This is important even though the mistake might not yet have been detected. It's better to meet with him or her in person, but that might not be feasible in all cases.

Don't send a text or email. Call your client on the phone to make sure that the apology is clearly heard in your voice, and be sincere. Don't equivocate or try to pass the buck. People understand that mistakes happen, but they rarely get past attempts at subterfuge.

Make your apology genuine and clear. Then, have a solid plan about how it will be fixed or otherwise made right.

As long as you own it, it usually is unnecessary to spill all the details of the error. However, if a client asks, have a succinct answer prepared. It's generally best to focus on the solution as opposed to dwelling on the mistake itself.

If your client doesn't seem mollified, ask what you could do to make it right. This serves two distinct purposes. It allows them to specify what they expect or desire, which gives them a stake in the corrective action, and it may turn out to be less than you were willing to offer.

Sometimes, however, nothing you offer or are willing to do will be enough to appease an irate customer. Those type of cases may be headed for litigation, so learn what all of your legal options may be in order to protect your business and reputation.

Source: Allstate Insurance Company, "How to Recover from a Business Mistake With a Client," Nicole Markle, accessed Sep. 29, 2017

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