Managing Client Expectations Under the Current Supply Shortage

As most of us make our way back to somewhat normal business operations, there is no denying that the pandemic has changed much of what we do, and how we do it.  In addition to the demand for increased safety measures, contactless consultations, and interactive technology, the roofing and construction industries have experienced a massive hit to the supply chain.

Prices for lumber and other construction materials and supplies are rising, and there is no relief expected until at least 2022. According to a recent report, on May 21st the cash price per thousand board feet of lumber climbed to $1,514, reflecting a massive 323 percent increase from April 2020  (source: Fortune).  The accelerated and dramatic increase is considered to be the fastest gain in pricing since the post-World War II housing boom.

Additionally, just this month (June 2021), IHS Markit and the Procurement Executives Group (PEG) reported that engineering and construction costs rose for the eighth month in a row, with all materials and equipment categories reporting increases for six consecutive months. (Source: ForConstructionPros.com) With low supply and high demand, the price increase is not the only pain in the side of roofing and construction professionals – It’s the delay in starting projects due to the inability to secure the materials needed.

For many contractors, lead time on materials is pushing jobs back up to six months or more, and it can be a cause of both confusion and frustration for clients.  For this reason, it is critical that contractors clearly communicate with clients about the delay and effectively manage expectations.  Here are a few things to keep in mind as you inform clients of the current conditions:

  1. Plan Ahead – For existing clients, it is vital to inform them of the importance of planning ahead.  With the current rise in demand and cost of materials, delays in receiving materials are only getting lengthier; the longer they wait to make a decision, the greater the delay may be to begin and complete the job.  By planning projects earlier than expected, they may be able to decrease the wait time.
  2. Pay Now – While prices are high now, they are only going to get higher.  According to various industry projections, prices for materials are expected to increase over the next three quarters. Planning and paying in advance may save the customer up to 10 to 15 percent now for a project that will be started later.
  3. Make it Temporary – Some clients may have a need for immediate repairs that can’t wait for all materials to be available.  For this reason, it is important to offer a variety of temporary solutions until the project can commence.  Offer repairs and remedies that you can do now to keep their roof watertight for rainy season and protected until the full scope of services can be met.  Consumers will be looking for assurance that, despite the delays, any necessary repairs will be made now to ensure their safety and a successful job in the future.

While contractors cannot control the supply chain, they can control how they communicate with clients to manage expectations.  In uncertain times like these, developing security and trust with clients is more important than ever before. By being patient, providing open communication and encouraging clients to be proactive and to plan ahead, you will be able to build a relationship that will benefit you and your clients far beyond the life of the contract.

To learn about how Brauner Safety Services can provide security for your business in the form of safety training programs and equipment, job site assessments and consulting services, contact Brauner Safety Services.

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