Impressing clients is about how you present yourself and your work, explain. Jonathan Hazell. Here he outlines the steps you need to take to be client ready
In the February issue of Pro Arb I wrote about the three key steps to successful project management: define, design, deliver. Another of my mantras is also a three-word phrase – client ready product. This summarises a broad concept and is not restricted to a package of information to be transferred in return for a payment of some sort. So how does it apply in the real world?
1)For service delivery teams it’s about:
● Being fully compliant with all the applicable environmental, health and safety, planning and traffic legislation and regulation as well as any local conditions that your client may impose.
● The team looking presentable in a relatively clean vehicle (I was in a car wash on a Friday afternoon and was amazed to see the Highways Agency reflective stickers emerge from under the grime on the back of the van in front), and not necessarily in uniform but at the very least wearing sober work clothing rather than ragged SlipKnot T-shirts.
● The team leader being confident enough to converse with the client, and anyone else.
● The team being where they said, when they said. I learnt early on in my career that tree officers are not that high up the greasy pole of local authority hierarchy. The tree officer may have invested considerable emotional energy agreeing a mutually convenient date and time for a piece of work to be carried out. If the team does not appear at the right time the tree officer’s reputation may be undermined, which could lead to a loss of opportunity for you as the contractor. Similarly with commercial and domestic clients – behind the scenes elaborate arrangements may have been put in place to allow you one-time access to a particular site, blow it by not appearing and you may not work for those people again.
● The final consideration for the team is to do what the client expects. Sophisticated clients will look for work to be carried out in accordance with BS 3998 or a written specification. Others may simply want the place to be left neat and tidy.
2) For the technician
● Technicians need to be where they said and when for the reasons stated above, but additionally for operator safety when lone working.
● They also need to present outputs in a form that the client can use straight away. For some that may be an updated spreadsheet, for others that’s a file exported from a hand-held data logger with more computing power than Apollo 11.
3) For the consultant
● It’s about all of the above and about helping your client to meet their objectives, not so much what you know, but what they need. Again, the outputs should be presented in a form that can be understood immediately and used in a professional context. A report prepared under 5837 may require an Arboricultural Impact Statement or an Arboricultural Method Statement – help your customer by using those terms. Spend a long time to write a short report that is free from jargon. Define, design and deliver client ready product!
Jonathan Hazell’s career began on the tools with the Ealing tree gang in 1980. Senior roles in the public, charity and commercial sectors followed and in October 2011 Jonathan established his own arboricultural consultancy practice. www.jhazell.com