3 Ways to Set Expectations With Your Clients

Knowledge is a powerful thing. When you give your clients all the information they need, they feel more in control. And they build trust with you. All of which means your project will run more smoothly and efficiently. The key is to be sure your clients understand what a design project entails, right from the beginning. So here are 3 ways to set and manage your client's expectations!

1. Detail the Process

Most clients - even at the high-income level - have not worked with a designer before. So they're going to be a bit nervous about how all of this works. The best way to make them feel at ease is to go over your process in detail. Walk them through it step-by-step so they know what's expected of them, what you'll be doing, and how you're going to manage the project. All of that will give them confidence in your ability to make their dream home a reality. And it will avoid a lot of questions later. The worst thing you can do is leave your client hanging, wondering what's going on or when something will happen. That makes them frustrated and concerned - and that's the last thing you need! And part of that process discussion should include timelines and and billing cycles. You want them to have every single bit of information they need.

2. Meet the Team

One misstep that many designers make when onboarding a new client is that they forget to introduce team members. Then they are caught off guard when someone new shows up at their door to measure rooms, or when they receive an "urgent" email from an unfamiliar email address. Again, you want them to trust that you know what you're doing. So you need to introduce them, either physically or on paper, to who might be in touch with them during the process. Explain each person's role and how they will be involved in the project-especially if that person is a bookkeeper with another address! They hired YOU, but they do need to know who is on your team, too!

3. Start on the Right Foot

Another thing I've seen designers do is avoid the tough conversations until it's a BIG problem. For example, they don't set boundaries right away and end up getting texts all weekend from a client. Part of describing your process at the very beginning might include a discussion about communication channels that work best for you and your team. And that isn't texting. You also want to discuss the photo shoot at the very beginning, pointing out that it's part of your design agreement and is critical to your business. That way you aren't arguing about it at the end of the installation. You definitely want to talk about referrals, right from the start. I know some of you are saying WHAT?? But this is so important. I will say something like: "Just so you know, I'm going to ensure that you love this process so much that you're going to want to refer me to all of your friends." And then you remind them of the referrals at the end again, too. It shouldn't be awkward - it's part of your business!

To make your client onboarding process easier, check out my Client Communication Templates! They'll help set those all-important expectations right away and will help you keep your communications flowing easily!



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