Nothing impresses a host, and makes them miss you when you’re gone, like leaving a space better than what you found it. But sometimes in the professional world, you just don’t think about it.
When you’re an overnight guest at a friend or family members’ home, you make the bed, throw all your trash away, ask where wet towels should be placed, and generally straighten up any thing that you’ve moved. Or at least you should. But when you’re making a house call, maybe you leave client facing documents scattered here and there on their coffee table, forget to clean up after a day of messy installations, and leave your empty Starbucks cup on their side table. Take the same care in your client’s home as you do in your mother in law’s home. Actually, more so. Your mother in law will forgive your mess (hopefully), your client may not.
So let’s talk about the things you can do to ensure that a client won’t be moving on and working with a new designer. Or if they do, they’ll sorely miss you, and then come crawling back.
7 Ways to Impress a Client with your Thoughtfulness
1.Ask about shoes – Some people like you to take your shoes off when you enter their home. In some cultures, this is an absolute necessity. So when you walk in the door, ask if you should take your shoes off. For contractors this might be a bit odd, so provide them with booties (like some cable guys do) to place over their shoes to ensure they’re not tracking in mud.
2.Clean up your plate – When someone treats you to a drink or some apps during your in-house meeting, make sure to clean up your space as much as possible. Dust any crumbs onto your plate, place your napkin on your plate, and ask where you should place your dirty dishes. No one will let you clean them of course, but you should ask.
And if you brought food or drinks in, certainly dispose of them yourself. Although I would certainly avoid bringing in a coffee, or anything, just for yourself. If you have something, you should always bring enough for the client as well.
3.Make sure you take all your stuff home – Before you leave, take a good look around to make sure you’ve collected your notes, samples, measuring tapes, etc. No client wants to hear this call “Yeah, hi, ummm….., you know all of those notes I wrote down on the changes you’d like to make? I forgot them. I hope you didn’t throw them away accidentally or the dog didn’t get a hold of them.” So take a good look around you before you leave. If you’re chronically forgetting, have a reminder list of stuff you need to take with you, so you can review it every time you leave a client’s home.
4. Remember to put everything back – When your client is gone for installation day, take pictures of the room before you start moving things around. Of course the idea is for you to move furniture in, out, and around, but some things will only need to be moved for the moment. So when it’s time to move them back, refer back to the photo you took and you’ll remember, oh yeah, this vase went there, that chair went there.
Some people are very particular about pieces, especially if they’re sentimental. Clients will expect you to move or remove the items that you’d already discussed, but they won’t expect you to move (and then not put back) the first piece of furniture they bought as a married couple, just because it was in the way of the movers. So at the end of your installation, make sure everything is where it’s supposed to be. Both the new items you brought in, and the old items that were only moved out of the way for the day.
5. Ask before you use – If you’re in someone’s home and are off by yourself measuring a room, taking pictures, etc. and need to use another room, like the restroom, ask before you use it. First, people don’t like semi-strangers waltzing around the house on their own and using things without being asked. And second, you could avoid a potential disaster. The last thing you want to happen is use a restroom with a non-working toilet. That’s just not something you want to happen in your professional, or personal, life. So, just avoid it and always ask before you use anything that’s outside of the rooms the client knows you’ll be in.
6. Tidy up before you leave – Whenever a contractor is visiting to do work, or it’s installation day, clean up all signs of work being done at the end of the day. If work is continually being done for weeks or months, ask your contractor to do their absolute best to organize their space at the close of each day.
No client wants it to look like they’ve had toddlers working on their house all day, as they notoriously just drop their junk wherever they feel like it. Because of course someone will no doubt step or trip on it and certainly break a toe. So have your contractors keep your client’s toes intact and organize their tools in the same spot, as much as possible, every day. And at the end of an installation, bring a vacuum or at least a dust buster to ensure that the tiny pieces of tape, styrofoam, bubble wrap, etc. aren’t left for your client to clean up when they get home.
Even go so far as to create a checklist. One, put items back where I found them. Check. Two, vacuum up any random junk that fell on the floor while we were unpacking items. Check. Three, take home all tools that were used for installation. Check. Four, throw away all boxes, paper, etc. that came about from unpacking. (Ideally, have the movers take them back). Check.
7. Add an element of surprise – To really go all out, go the extra mile for your client. When the work has been completed, hire a cleaning service to spiffy up any room that was worked on for that extra “wow” factor when the client returns. (Just remember to ensure at the beginning of your client relationship, you ok all possible contractors coming into their home).
Or, if you’re on a budget, do a quick cleaning yourself and then set out a bottle of sparkling wine and a treat or two. Or, gift them with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and inexpensive vase. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, just one last time to remind them (without of course actually saying it)”Ta Da! “Aren’t I awesome?! Now remember to tell all your friends!”
Manners Will Never Go Out of Style
Let’s be honest. We want to impress. We want our clients to be awe-struck with our designs, our talents, our creative genius. But, we also need to impress them with our professionalism, our thoughtfulness, and our manners. Because that’s when people realize, hey, this insanely creative designer doesn’t only deliver gorgeous designs, she’s also thinking about how I feel. And when they realize that, you have a grateful client. For life.
If you’d like even more help impressing your clients with just how amazing you are, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how!