4 Ways to Educate Your Clients
One of the best ways to be sure your project rolls along smoothly is the work you do with your clients BEFORE you even start! It's important to educate your clients so they understand how everything is going to move forward. That's ESPECIALLY true if they have never worked with a designer before. But even if they have, they've never worked with YOU before, so they need to understand your processes and how you run your business. There are 4 ways that you can educate your clients right from the beginning to make everything work fabulously - let's take a look!
1. Talk About Processes
Every designer has a different way of running a project - and that's OK! As long as your systems are efficient and effective, you should do things your way. But your client should understand how things are going to progress, so there's no misunderstandings. For example, you DEFINITELY want to talk about that really boring part in the middle where we're all just waiting for things to be delivered and for the paint to dry. They're still going to be excited at this point, so you want them to know that you are still managing the process and keeping your eye on everything. You also want them to know who plays what role on the build team, when and how they can request changes, how you handle furniture orders and more. This is one of those times when MORE information is better!
2. Talk About Budgets
No one likes to talk about money - that's just a fact. But the more open and clear you are about what the budget will be for the project, the better things will go for you. Clients appreciate honesty, just like we ALL do! If you are hesitant or wishy-washy about what you're presenting, that's going to make them question your professionalism. Not good!! You want to have a clear budget process with easy-to-understand fees and pricing. It's okay if you need to give them a range for the furnishings, because that will tighten up as they make their selections, of course. But you've got to give them guidelines that they can understand! And if something changes, be sure they're in the know ASAP and that you have great solutions for them!
3. Talk About Communication
Can your clients text you 24/7? Will you update them weekly? What if they have an urgent question?? It's a great idea to talk about your communication plan at the VERY beginning so everyone is on the same page! And then, you need to stick to that plan. You can't say you're going to email them every Friday with an update and then occasionally forget to do that. Again, that gives your clients a chance to fill in the gaps with guesses about what is REALLY going on. And trust me, they won't be giving you the benefit of the doubt! Communicate a LOT with them so they have all the info they need. But also be sure to stick to your boundaries about when they can contact you (unless it's a true emergency).
4. Talk About Photography
Yes, I know this is probably in your contract or agreement, but do you actually TELL your client that you want to shoot their home after installation?? You want to be very very clear about that from the beginning, rather than waiting till the end to point out that you're going to upend their home life for 2-3 days. You want to be clear that those photos are VERY important to your marketing and future business, even if they don't want you to submit to a publication. Let them know how much information you'll provide about the project on your website, and be sure they understand that you will never give their family name or address to others unless you're scheduling a magazine shoot. Setting expectations at the beginning is the key to a happy client at the end!!
Speaking of that, download my FREE Guide to Setting Client Expectations here. That will really help you get everyone on the same page so you have a very smooth project and a satisfied customer. And scroll down for an important reminder about photography!!
PS - Don't forget to join me TODAY at 12p ET for Smartphone Photography for Interior Designers!! You can register right here! And if you miss it, no worries! You can catch the replay until 11:59pm on March 17. Uplevel your interiors photography with your own smartphone with these amazing tips and ideas!