So – you may be a fantastic Interior designer. You have the experience you need, the contacts and the flare for design but you still need to win clients in order to succeed. Having the skills required to win work will be the make or break of your company.
BLANC. has been chatting with our favourite designers to get you the TOP 10 BEST TIPS for successful client meetings and proposals.
- Have faith – Go in to the inital meeting with confidence. Talk as though you WILL be working together. You offer a fantastic service so why wouldn’t the client choose you.
- Get to know the client – Dont rush in with opinions and ideas. The inital meeting should be about finding out what the clients priorities are and how you can best assist them. You don’t want to dive in with a comment about how ugly the fireplace is – only to find out that is their favourite part of the house!
- Take note – Make only brief notes in the meeting. You want the conversation to flow and the client to feel relaxed. Jot down the odd word if neccassary and then elaborate on your notes as soon as the meeting is over. At the end of a meeting it is quite acceptable to ask if you can whizz round and take a few photos. This will help to jog your memorary once you have left and help you detail the proposal adequately.
- Don’t promise the world – It can be tempting to over promise in inital meetings as you want to please the client. Be clear about what services you do and don’t provide. For example, the client may want you to manage the builder but if this isnt something you provide then you need to be firm from the outset where your services end.
- Don’t Guess – Clients often push for an indication of cost during an inital meeting. Dont be pushed in to guessing as – despite what the client says – that figure will stay in their head. Tell them you will need time to review the work involved before sending a proposal. Building work will need to be run by a builder with a full spec before an indication of costs can be given. Costs can vary greatly depending on the quality of finishes and the range of furniture and fabrics selected.
- Take Charge – Make it clear during your meeting when the client can expect to receive your proposal. It is always best to get a proposal sent as soon as possible but if you won’t be able to work on it until the week after, let the client know so you don’t appear complacent.
- Set boundaries – Some clients will text, email and even call, morning and night. If your working hours are 9am – 6pm, Monday – Friday, only respond within these hours. It can be tempting in the early days to respond whenever a client contacts you but this will set a precendent for you being available 24/7.
- Dont give it all away. It is important to give the client a taster of your skills to get them interested. Offer some useful insights and inital ideas but dont give everything away in your first meeting. You may find they take your ideas and advice and then proceed with someone else.
- Go in to detail – Your proposal needs to justify your fee. List exactly what you will provide for the fee you are suggesting. It is hard for someone who is not in the industry to understand what is involved in a project. A client can easily think your fee is too high if you dont give a thorough list of what they are gaining for the money.
- Stay Calm – Know that even seasoned designers don’t always win the client. There is inevitably going to be some clients you win and some clients you loose. Always be professional and put your best proposal forward but try to remain pragmatic. If you place too much importance on a meeting you can end up appearing nervous and pushy. Be relaxed and the client will feel relaxed too.
We hope you found the above tips as insightful as we did. Do you have any top tips or experiences you would like to share? If so comment below. We would love to hear them!