5 Secrets to Getting Change Order Requests Processed & Closed Faster

By: Cameron Page  |  September 15, 2020

Raise your hand if you have ever sent a Change Order Request to your General Contractor and felt like it disappeared into the internet ether. It could be that your customer is too busy managing a fast-moving construction project or it could be that your process is broken. In this blog post, we are going to highlight five basic things you can do to ensure your CORs make it to the top of your customer's stack of paperwork.

1. Be Clear

Use clear subject lines to get your emails opened.

Your customers have to sift through hundreds of emails a day. That means quick, easy-to-answer messages will always grab a customer’s time and attention. It’s one item they can check off their never-ending to-do list. Make concise, focused emails a best practice. Keep your subject lines clear, direct, and brief. Short subject lines stand out in cluttered inboxes; every word should make it simple for a customer to notice and search for your Change Order Request. When your customer has time to review your COR, they are going to search for it in their inbox. MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO FIND!


  • Here is my Change Order
  • Scan BizHub 4455333z5331
  •                           (empty)
  • Please approve


  • [Project Name] - [Your Company Name] - COR [Number] - [Short Description]

Follow the same guidelines with your email content. Each email should address one clear-cut topic: the info or action you’re requesting. No need for information overload. State the facts and your reason why it needs to be completed — in as few words as possible. To get what you need in a short amount of time, the goal of your email should be to minimize distractions and keep your customer focused.

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to be nice!

Take a second to ask yourself: How can I make my communication more succinct and more effective so my team can accomplish more, in less time?

Remember this equation: less customer effort = faster customer action.

2. Quality

Everything you submit to your customer represents the quality of your work.

When asking for a Change Order, make it clear you’ve earned it.

Here are three straightforward tips:

  1. Start with legible handwriting.  Make sure every Time & Material Tag is as easy to read as possible. Your paperwork shouldn’t look like you’re still in 3rd grade. Blaming your field personnel is not a valid excuse! Gain greater respect from your customers and a higher priority for your CORs by providing your customer with easy to read T&M Tags.
  1. Include photos that make it simple for customers to understand what work your T&M Tag represents. Decrease the amount of time and research your customer has to spend on your COR and you'll increase the speed to getting your COR approved.
  1. When you send a scanned PDF, make sure the quality of the image represents the quality of your company. Sloppy documentation might save a few minutes of your time up front, but it can be tough for customers to decipher what you need, which means your CORs get pushed to the side. If you're experiencing delays in payments, take a minute to review how you're submitting your CORs.

Are you slowing down your projects and frustrating your customers with unprofessional documentation?

Don’t have good handwriting? Go digital

3. Time 

Respect your deadlines.

We've all been there: heavy workloads that lead to missed deadlines. There's no doubt you’re working hard, but let's face it...when your Change Order is late, it becomes harder for a customer to remember what your COR is about, and that can hold up the approval process. Don’t forget, if you are working for a General Contractor, they have a customer they are reporting to that is also holding them accountable for deadlines. Make your GC’s life easier by submitting things on time.

The bottom line is: it’s typically inefficient processes and poor tracking that create delays in your COR deadlines. If you're always racing against the clock with your CORs, maybe it's time to take a look at your Change Order process.

If you are late submitting your CORs, why should your customer be on time getting them approved and paid?

4. Organization

Keep your Change Order Request logs up to date.

Poorly organized COR logs can hurt your customer relationships. If your Change Order Request log is incorrect, unclear, or out of date, it makes your Change Order Requests difficult to deal with, and it can even create an unnecessary loss in revenue for you or your customer. Never forget that this log is the most critical change order document you will send your customer. These logs confirm the customer has received and processed all of the change orders you submitted. Remember, Change Order Requests represent very little upside in profit to your customer, but entail a huge amount of risk. To get what you need, when you need it, make it simple for a customer to see what has to be done to keep your team (and the project) moving forward.

How can you make it easier for your customers to sort, review, and stay on top of your COR log?

5. Communication

Differentiate your company from your competitors.

Keep in mind that while they're speaking with you, your customer is in the middle of dozens of discussions with other contractors. If you streamline your COR processes, the efficiency and clarity you provide will separate your company from the competition. Respond to customers promptly and you’ll give them more reasons to stay focused on what you want—reviewing and approving your Change Order Requests ASAP.

Take a look at a few of your recent emails or handwritten tags you’ve sent to customers. How can you streamline and simplify your message in order to ensure your objectives become a higher priority with your customers?

Master the 5 Secrets With Clearstory

From our streamlined system that makes sure your emails never get lost to an app that keeps all your Change Order Requests in one place, Clearstory makes it easy for you to maintain great communication and come across as a trustworthy professional.

Clearstory is an all-in-one, simple solution that streamlines and manages Change Order Requests from the field to office. When your Change Order Request process is clear, concise, easy to understand and professionally done, your company will stand out from the crowd.

Your customers will be happier to work with you, your life will be less stressful, and your company will get paid sooner rather than later.

To get started, connect with one of our team members by requesting a live demo.

Cameron Page
Cameron Page

Cameron leads Clearstory as the founder and CEO. After 10 years as a Project Manager at Devcon, a leading design-build GC, he knew there should be a better way to track and communicate on Change Orders. He started Clearstory with a mission to help the entire construction industry get extra work processed and closed faster in order to reduce risk, waste less time, and strengthen relationships.

Ready to see a Demo?

Contact us to schedule a 30 min call to see if Clearstory is right for you and your team.