“Data is vital.”
Jesse Dull may not work for a tech company, but he understands that data analysis is crucial in business today, no matter what the industry. As a project estimator for the Kansas City–based construction company McCownGordon, he deals with data all day: absorbing, organizing, and explaining it to others. And while the amount of information he has to handle can be massive—“We get anywhere from 50–100 bids on a project,” he says—managing that data properly is key in building client relationships.
“If [owners] don’t trust the data that we’re putting into this project, then they’re not trusting where the budget’s doing, where the project’s going, and then they question our ability. Data management is huge.”
In his five years with McCownGordon, Dull has cultivated these four tips for building a strong foundation of trust with a client using data analysis.
- Communicate openly.
“We have an open-book policy,” Dull says, “where we show the owner everything.” Clarity and transparency from the start helps clients to see their contractors as true partners that they can come to with questions or concerns.
- Make the data accessible.
“When it’s visual, they can see it and understand it quicker,” explains Dull. “Graphically, it’s quicker. Everybody understands percentages.” McCownGordon makes sure to communicate their budgets, materials, and timelines in ways that clients can easily comprehend.
- Tailor the experience for each client.
“It’s understanding that client and being able to speak their language,” says Dull. “If they’re a bank and wanna get into the nuts and bolts and details, we’re happy to show them. If it’s a building committee for a church that doesn’t understand the nuts and bolts, we can show them a summary on a high level.”
- Tie the data to concrete decisions.
“Our system allows us to show our clients where their money’s being spent,” Dull says, “and if it’s over budget, it allows us to take a step back, analyze options, and give them a roadmap to get the project back on track.” Breaking huge spreadsheets of numbers down into specific decisions and actions makes it easier for clients to understand the scope of a project, and to trust McCownGordon to keep a project moving in the right direction.
Establishing the right process for taking in data, organizing it, digesting it, and then sharing it with clients in customized visuals is key to building client trust, and it’s what sets McCownGordon apart.
“That trust ties back into who we are as a company,” Dull says. “Our core values of integrity, performance and relationships. Without building that trust and having an owner know we’ve got their back, we’ve got their best interest in mind, we won’t excel as a company. So, it’s vital.”