Modular home builders are polygamists. For 6 months to a year you are married to several home buyers at a time and just like married couples it is not always smooth sailing. Finding each other’s ‘Hot’ button is almost a requirement that should be added to every contract and agreed that neither will every push it while you are building their new home.
Since builders rarely know what a buyer’s hot button is before you sign the contract you must be ready for your first argument with them. Hopefully you will only have one but sometimes if can escalate to the point of going to court.
An argument with a customer will almost always destroy the experience – that is unless you handle it so the buyer doesn’t even realize you are arguing.
A modular home builder almost never wakes up thinking he or she will call, visit or email their home buyer looking for fight. The old saying that the customer is always right stays with entrepreneurs for as long as they are in business. It may stick in your throat like a big hunk of bread but eventually you will get over it.
However, that is not the case with your buyers, particularly after they have signed your contract and money has changed hands. That’s when the customer’s gloves tend to come off and the argument ensues.
When a customer is hell-bent on arguing, here are the keys to handling the situation so it ends well:
Find a middle ground. Find one thing to agree on to stop the butting of heads immediately. It can be a statement of fact, such as a date, time or place that something happened. Example - Say, “We agree that this began when the electrician didn't ……….”
Stay Calm. No matter how rough the buyer gets, it’s important to be polite and stay polite throughout the conversation. Being cordial helps you gain respect, and angry customers often end up mirroring the behavior. Example - Say, “Can you give me a minute to recall what has happened since we last met?”
Don’t escalate it. Avoid getting louder — even as customers raise their voices. A calm, even tone often gets more attention than a raised one. Try repeating your point with slightly different wording to get it across rather than trying to be the loudest speaker. Example - Say, “I understand your concern. Let’s look at this again from a different angle’”
Don’t push the HOT button.. You likely know what you can say that will put a customer in his or her place, or cause the person to erupt more. Avoid the temptation to make “I know I’m right and you’re wrong” statements. On the flip side, don’t take customers’ bait. Ignore crappy statements directed at you personally, and keep referring back to the issue.
Don’t expect an apology. It doesn’t matter who was wrong or right, or whose point was best. Even if customers were wrong, don’t ask them or expect them to apologize. Instead, move forward so the relationship is on stable ground again.
Being a negotiator rather than a debater will defuse the argument quicker and is likely to have a positive effect on all future problems.