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4 ways contractors can develop better client relationships that pay off long term

Relationships are important in all aspects of life and shouldn’t be overlooked in working environments where deadlines and demands can easily escalate, leading to increased tension and stress if issues aren’t addressed.

For independent professionals having a strong contractor-client relationship is vital. Not only will it result in a successful project, but potentially repeat business, positive referrals or a glowing online review and further endorsements. All of which are key to an independent contractor’s future growth opportunities.

 

Good communication is a vital to making progress as a contractor

Working as an independent contractor means that you will be the sole person responsible for the contractor-client relationship. Clear, concise communication is a must from the first time you engage with the client.

From the outset you should both have clear expectations of what is required – from the application or tendering process right through to when the work starts. Moreover, if you specialise in a specific field of expertise it’s important to avoid overly complex terminology so that clients understand everything upfront and don’t have to ask for further clarify.

Approaching potentially awkward subjects, such how you are paid and when, should be established early on. These sticking points can cause issues for clients and independent contractors further down the line so agree payment terms and potential rate reviews in advance to avoid unwanted surprises.

Certain clients will have a preference over their ideal means of communication. Check at the start of your working relationship with a client whether they would prefer email , phone conversations or a face-to-face follow ups on the progress of the project.

 

Stay organised as a contractor

When you establish yourself as an independent contractor, good organisation is essential for your business – this is the same for your client relationships.

At the start of the contract a step-by-step breakdown of the project timeline can be prepared and agreed with the client. This will give them a clear view of all the work that goes on behind the scenes; something they might not necessarily see from their side.

Identify any KPIs and an agreed deadline for these targets then aim to provide regular updates to the client, whether daily or weekly. This will help keep everything on track and mean expectations can be managed appropriately if there are any delays.

 

Honesty is the best contractor policy

Along with being clear about timelines from the start, it’s always best to be honest with your clients.

If something seems undeliverable, especially when the deadline is fast approaching, it should be communicated to the client immediately. Likewise, working as a contractor will always carry risks, and clients will appreciate your honesty shared upfront.

 

Finally, remember your clients are people, not just numbers

The key to developing a strong client relationship as an independent contractor is to have excellent communication and organisation from the outset. This comes hand in hand with treating your clients the same way you wish to be treated – with respect and to a high standard of service.

Right from the moment you meet with and strike up a relationship with a client, take the opportunity to not only provide a clear pitch with timelines and expectations, but also remember individual details about them – not just their name. Seeing them as a person and not just a pay check will have a huge impact on building the relationship long term.

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