Contractors must lull clients into “comfort zone”

Establishing open and honest relationships is key to construction, says Oger general manager

Securing early buy in from clients and maintaining a close relationship throughout design and construction phases of a project is crucial to its success, according to Oger Abu Dhabi general manager Richard Chammas.

Speaking at The Big 5 seminar, ‘Client Leadership: Ensuring Clients Are Part of the Team’, Chammas said contractors all too often treat clients as adversaries rather than partners, which typically leaves client concerns and contractor objectives unaddressed.

He outlined client concerns as safety, whether the project will meet expectations in terms of design and quality, costs, capital value and delays, while contractors also seek a safe site, profitability, delivery on time and budget, and wish to earn repeat clients.

“Securing early buy in from clients is easier said than done. We need to establish their expectations, understand their business and the project goals and value. It is also important to attain the client’s trust,” explained Chammas.

To achieve alignment, he said both parties needed to get involved in the project process and there must be visibility and good communication on both sides.

“First and foremost, parties should agree on common goals, establish processes and understand the risks. Clients must set achievable targets and potential project changes must be considered. While the client wants value, the contractor is looking for financial motivation.”

Meanwhile, Chammas said a contractor’s role was to provide clients with a “comfort zone”, which involved demonstrating expertise, reliability through surety of delivery, assurance of fair value, clarity on business culture, commitment to work as a team, provide innovative contributions to the project and surety of financial returns for the client.

“This will generate repeat clients,” he asserted, adding that establishing a comfort zone was only possible with the client’s willingness to participate and engage in the process.

“The client must play an integral role and be fully engaged. This is essential to the success of the project”.

Chammas also called for a reduction of “red tape” set by client, saying a typical contract in Saudi Arabia could be as little as one page, whereas the same contract in the UAE could reach eight volumes.

Furthermore, in order to maintain continuity of alignment, he said a “regular, high-level interface” was essential.


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