small business, entrepreneur, exit interview, final walkthrough, installation

4 Things You Must Do Before a Project Is Really Finished

Is there anything better than installation day?? It's when all your hard work pays off and you get to showcase the final reveal to your client. I LOVE surprising and delighting my clients with their gorgeous home-come-true. And then you hand over their maintenance binder and ride off into the sunset, right?! WRONG. There are 4 things that too many designers forget to do at the end of a project, and honestly you aren't finished until you check them off your list. What are they?? Read on!

1. Ask for a Referral

Really, you should even bring up referrals at the very beginning of the project, too. At my first meetings, I tell my clients that I want to deliver such a stunning project that they'll refer me to everyone they know! But here's where the rubber hits the road - you want to bring up referrals while they're feeling excited and thrilled with your work. And so they'll remember that this is how you make your living. Think about saying something like "I am so happy that you love your new home! It was such a pleasure to work on it with you. I love clients who are a dream to work with, like you are. So if you know of any friends or family who would like to work with me, please feel free to pass on my information!" You could even leave them with some cards or information that they can hand on to others. But don't forget this critical step!

2. Get the Photos

Again, you should have mentioned this at the very beginning of the project and it should be in your agreement/contract. If you can't show your work, it's that much harder for you to get new projects and clients. And there is NO better time to get photographs of your project than right after installation, when everything is gorgeous and brand new. If you wait, you could have to contend with wear-and-tear, particularly if your clients have kids, pets, or both! As you get close to installation day, start talking with your client about when you'll be scheduling photography. Help them understand that this is critical to your business, and that it's in your contract.

3. Do a Final Walkthrough

This is something that will ensure your clients are completely happy with the results. You want to walk through the entire project with them, pointing out where you listened to them and delivered on what they wanted or needed. But you also want them to sign off on each room - that it's complete and what you agreed to together earlier in the project. If there are any little things like paint nicks from the movers, you want to be sure that those are taken care of ASAP. There should not be any missing pieces or items when you do your final walkthrough. This is all about getting buy-in from your client - that you delivered above-and-beyond what you promised and that they are thrilled with it. This does two things - it allows you to showcase your skill and expertise, AND it helps avoid issues weeks after you've marked this project as complete.

4. Schedule an Exit Interview

This is NOT the same thing as a walkthrough, although you could schedule them for the same day. Instead of thinking about it as a formal process (even though it is for you!), think about it as an opportunity to learn more about your business and show your clients your dedication to improve your business. You can learn a LOT from exit interviews, which is why so many companies use them when employees leave for another job. In this type of exit interview, I ask things like:

  • What was it like doing business with us?
  • Was there anything we could have done differently?
  • What was your favorite part of our process?
  • Did the team communicate effectively?
  • Did we meet your expectations?

You aren't necessarily looking for just praise in these interviews - you might learn something that will really help you up your customer service game! Use them as a learning tool, not a compliment generator. But, it can be a perfect way to get a quote for your referrals!

Download my FREE Installation Day Timeline & Checklist Guide. It will also help you deliver the very best "big reveal" possible for your clients!




Check out more design business tips and tricks

Selling Your Design: The First Critical Touchpoints

Making the Most of Client Touchpoints

How Communication Can Solve Any Project Challenge

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