How to Make the Best Impression at the Beginning of a New Project

Yeah! You have a new client who has contracted you for a design project. That means new possibilities and opportunities to flex your creative wings in new ways.

Since you never get a second chance to make a first impression, it’s important to start this relationship on the right foot. The way you launch a design project is crucial for setting the tone of the entire relationship.

I’m not trying to be overly dramatic here, because, yes, you can recover from a shaky project start. But, why add that additional strain to your life and give yourself extra work to overcome an obstacle that doesn’t need to be there?

Here are some recommendations for getting your project started on the right foot...and you guessed is all about organization! Yippee!

Organize yourself and give your clients confidence—in YOU!

When you are organized and buttoned down when you meet your clients for the first time, it helps build a foundation of confidence for your clients. I know how many projects we’re all juggling, but the only one your clients care about is theirs. Before you head to the meeting, organize yourself and your mind around the particular needs of THIS client. This includes updating your digital files to use for that client.

Organize your client with a binder

I always give my clients a project binder that they can use throughout the project to keep track of all the details including the contracts, schedule and decisions we make. I found that when my clients have something to hold it helps them feel more in control of the project and less anxious about things because they have most of the answers they need at their fingertips in their trusty binder. So, ahead of that first meeting where I hand over the binder, I get it ready. It includes these tabs:

  • Letter of agreement
  • Meeting notes
  • To-do lists
  • Floor plans
  • Invoices
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Client Care

And, here are some of the documents I may include in the binder for that first client meeting. The final selection depends on the project:

  • Copy of the signed letter of agreement
  • Agenda for the first meeting
  • Blank sheets for meeting notes
  • Client Care instructions, depending on the project
  • Due Diligence
  • How to Hire Professionals
  • How to Prepare Your Kitchen for a Remodel
  • Design Project-Flow Chart
  • Design-Project Phases
  • Preparing Your Home for a Remodel
  • Typical Bathroom Remodel Schedule
  • Typical Kitchen Remodel Schedule
  • Collaboration Tips

Gather your thoughts

Never head into a new client meeting without refreshing your mind on their details—their names, what you know so far about their project needs and even take a few minutes to prepare some thoughts about your overall vision for their project thus far (no details at this point).

I also set the table with cold water, healthy snacks in pretty bowls and put a pen and pad of paper with the binder at each place to sit. Then, my clients know that we are ready to get down to business! Of course, you’ll learn lots of essential info at the first client meeting that informs your design decisions, but the more off-the-cuff thoughts you can say at the project kick-off meeting, the more your clients will sense that you’re really INTO them. Always a good thing.

What are some of the things you do at the beginning of a new project?

Have a great week and don’t forget to my Guide to Organizing Clients document for FREE!


Check out more design business tips and tricks

Making the Most of Client Touchpoints

How Communication Can Solve Any Project Challenge

Navigating a Client Couple

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