Getting to Know You….
Being a Designer is a Client based business. They are the foundation of what we do, without our Clients, we do not produce work. There are many ways to obtain new Clients. It can be from a referral from a colleague or former Client, from a publication or social media or from our own website with an email or telephone inquiry.
Interior Design, especially Residential, is a multi faceted and extremely personal business. Designing a home for a client is an experience that requires trust, knowledge and diplomacy, and also incredible amounts of patience especially when making important decisions with your client.
I believe that before that first face to face meeting with a new potential client, a good policy is to have an initial email exchange to understand what the Client’s needs are, so the designer can begin to make an assessment of the project and tasks.
In my firm ORA studio, I have developed a New Client Questionnaire that I send to every inquiry I receive. The questions are designed to allow this new client to really answer some questions that they themselves may have not thought of and also helps to me determine what their ultimate goal might be and also how our fit would be as Client and Designer.
It is a short questionnaire but ultimately extremely helpful to understand who the Client is, even before the first meeting or consultation. An important question is about budget. The client may have many ideas about what they want their home to be, but maybe have not fully thought out the cost. This question gets them in the mindset of their numbers and what they are willing to spend realistically.
Other questions ask what their design style is and also time frame. Time frame is another point that needs to be discussed, is it a full renovation and the Client only has six months? is there a broader time frame because the space is a new construction? These are important factors to understand before the meeting.
I ask if the potential client has ever worked with a designer before. Knowing how to work with a designer is crucial. There needs to be a rapport and a shared vision and concept that both sides feel strongly about.
For my business this survey has changed the way I meet with prospective clients, and it gives me as the designer a leg up on what to talk about and how to approach this prospective Client and address what is really important to them, it also saves me time by not doing many back and forth emails and with their answers to the questions posed I formulate a rough scope of work and tasks and bring that into our first meeting. My preparedness is also an indication that I take my work seriously and that I will not waste the Client’s time, which is very important to them. This template is indicative to the Client that a high level of professionalism is regarded as imperative and integral to good business and excellent results.