As a contractor - particularly those in construction, landscaping, roofing, and the like - it is generally considered common knowledge that work should never begin before certain information is obtained from the client.
What specific information should be obtain, however, is often a matter of debate. Garnering as much information as possible allows a contractor to gain a thorough understanding of the projects and its specific elements. Asking a client questions about a projects allows a contractor to determine if the client is a good fit and also give him or her the opportunity to properly prepare a bid and draft a contract.
Additionally, knowing as much detailed information about a client and the corresponding project allows a contractor to hit the ground running assuming the contract is acceptable to both parties.
The “Right” Questions
So what question are the “right” questions to ask a client before starting a job or even drafting a contract? Before making any attempt to hammer out the details of a project with a client, it is essential that a contractor have certain basic requirements and that he or she make the client aware of those requirements in order to determine whether or not they can be met.
Things like a minimum payment need to be discussed up front so that the client is aware of the minimum amount for which a contractor is willing to work. Also having a minimum or maximum period of time that a contractor is willing to work is essential so that it can be used in conjunction with the amount of time the client anticipates needing the contractor to work.
What to Ask the Client
The questions that should be asked of a client by a contractor are those that provide a broad overview of the work and should include the following:
- Who is the main point of contact throughout the duration of the work?
- What is the primary purpose of the project and how does the work being done by the contractor fit into the overall project?
- What is the main goal that the client is trying to accomplish with the project?
- How involved will the contractor be with the project?
- Will the contractor be working alone or with other contractors?
- What is the time frame for the project?
- What are some potential obstacles that could arise and cause delays for the contractor?
- If there are changes needed after the project is completed, is the contractor expected to be available to address them?
This is of course not an exhaustive list of questions but the questions listed here are important for just about any contractor to ask before entering into a binding contract with a client. If a client is unable to answer them or provides answers that the contractor finds unacceptable, it is up to the contractor to make a decision whether to help the client get organized or to turn down the project.