Designer Mary (not her real name) went out on a new client call and became very enthusiastic about the possible new job. She had many good ideas that would transform this house into a showplace. Mary “hit it off” with the homeowner and shared many of her ideas thinking that his would be “her” job.
When, after a week Mary didn’t hear back from the homeowner, she followed up only to find that the happy homeowner and her friend, who she says is a “designer,” had been out shopping to complete all of Mary’s great ideas.
At one time or another, this situation has probably happened to all of us. Let’s take a closer look at what is going on here.
Mary has a reason to be upset, she feels that this client has stolen her ideas and taken advantage of her well-intentioned gift.
In some ways that is true, but the reality check is…
Mary gave away her valuable design ideas to a potential client who had no commitment to her.
- Mary never brought up the subject of money.
- Mary did not explain how she gets paid for her services or talk about the value of the services she provides.
- Mary did not talk about what the client’s expectations were or discuss a budget.
- Mary did not ask for a commitment (Letter of Agreement with a retainer check) before she started designing for this client.
These are all items that are critical to the Pre-Programming stage of interior design. Mary skipped over a large piece of her “fact finding” process because she was feeling fearful or uneasy over talking about money and commitment.
Hiding from money conversations will always come back to bite you.
Summoning the courage to deal with your own fear is the answer.
Money is simply one of the key elements you need to know about in order to make good design decisions. This is information that you must have in order to do your job.
Here are three simple tips to help you create ease and comfort in your new client money conversations.
Tip #1 – Write a script for your initial phone conversation. This should include what you intend do, and what the client should expect from an initial interview appointment.
Be clear about the length of time you will be there, what you will be discovering, and why or why not you will charge for it. Be clear about the difference between an initial interview to hire a designer and “I want to hear your ideas for my house.”
Practice the statement you wrote privately in front of a mirror until it comes out of your body with comfort
and ease. Keep on practicing until it is easy for you to say.
Then keep your script near the phone so that you will be ready for the next new client call.
Tip #2 – Write a Frequently Asked Questions page. Here is where you can create the questions that you wish the client would ask along with the answers you wish to give. Be sure to explain in the FAQ the value of your services and let them know that you will be asking them what their budget is for this project.
After setting the initial appointment, send the client a thank you letter confirming the appointment and include your FAQ page.
Many people do not understand how decorators and designers work and are worried about asking “dumb” questions. You will find that if you give some basic information clients will ask better and more important questions and perhaps even lead you into the money conversation.
Tip #3 – “Pull the elephant out of the closet and throw it on the floor.” Summon up your courage, step out and just do it.
Try this…“So, what kind of budget have you and your husband set for this project?” This is an easy way to begin the money conversation.
Throw the question out there out there and see what they say. You have already clearly asked them that they needed to be thinking and talking about their budget. This kind of open-ended question invites conversation and lets you know immediately if this is a real job or wishful thinking.
Talking about money early on in the client relationship fosters trust and respect for you as a professional.
To learn how to powerfully handle situations like this and turn these clients into paying customers join me at Designing For Dollars 3.0 LIVE! I will show you EXACTLY what to do, what to say and when to say it…
so that your offer for design services is irresistible.