I first wanted to thank you all for entering the ticket giveaway for LuAnn Nigara’s Live Event & VIP Breakfast. I’m so happy to announce that Lauren R. is our lucky winner and she’s so excited to attend, and has already booked her room! So a huge congratulations to Lauren, and I can’t wait to meet you there!
Now one more thing before we find out if you can ever pamper clients too much, I wanted to share some exciting new resources that we’ve added to the site. If you remember the last post of 2018, I mentioned how we’re planning to bring more value this year. Well, we’re already on our way and are planning to bring even more value later this year. So stay tuned for that. But for now, I’ll share what has already been released!
First, the opportunity for me to create a survey just for you and your clients. Constant feedback from clients is the lifeblood of any great company, and design is no different. So we now offer the opportunity for you to have a survey completely built around your firm, its needs, and its concerns. You can learn more about that here. Second, we also now offer personal coaching either through video or email.Whether you need some help for great gift ideas for a VIP client’s birthday, ideas on how to pamper your clients at a client appreciation party, or guidance on tougher subjects like how to handle difficult client conversations, I’m here for you. You can learn more about that service here. Last, we now offer a 15 minute complementary call to answer any questions you have about the client service consultation before you purchase it. You can learn more about that service here.
There is Such a Thing as Too Much Pampering
Pampering your clients and letting them luxuriate in the services that you offer can be an amazing thing. It can be what really pushes your business from profitable, to highly profitable. But, is there a point in which it’s too much? I say, yes.
The saying goes that you can never have too much of a good thing. But, that’s not really true is it? You can get tired of almost anything. Because over time, it loses a bit of its appeal. I mean, I love chocolate more than just about anyone, but if I eat it all day everyday, I want a break. I love international travel so much that I would be happy to spend most of our disposable income traveling the world, but, if I did it every day of the year, I would want to stop. At least for awhile. Life has a natural ebb and flow to it. And so should the pampering that you shower on your clients.
Let Your Clients Be Surprised
First, there’s the element of surprise. People love to be surprised. To be fascinated by how you pull things off, by how you knew what their favorite drink was, or what their favorite travel destination was. But, if you surprise a client with something every single time you see them, the surprise loses its effect. And really becomes a bit boring and expected. We all become desensitized to things, no matter if they’re good or bad. So don’t pamper your clients so much that they stop being surprised by how amazing you are. Let there be a balance between everyday meetings where there’s nothing over the top other than drinks being provided and you being well prepared, and birthday lunches where you pull out all the stops. Let your surprises be, well, a surprise!
Don’t Let Luxury Overshadow the Relationship
Second, there’s the element of it being a bit superficial if it’s constant. It’s like a boyfriend. If he gives you gifts constantly you start to wonder, why’s he doing this? Does he think he’s not good enough for me and he needs to give me gifts constantly to make up for it? Does he think our relationship is just about stuff we give rather than the time we share? You begin to want depth to the relationship, not just gifts.
Clients are the same. They want a genuine, trusting relationship with you. One where the best part of working with you is that everyday you dedicate 100% of your talent, expertise, and business sense to making sure their project turns out right. And of course, they appreciate gifts and pampering when it’s thoughtful and meaningful, but if they’re given constantly it can start to seem a bit shallow or off putting.
It’s also really time consuming to give gifts that are constantly personalized so at some point they would have to become more generic. And that isn’t good either. When you give gifts, tickets, experiences, make them personalized as much as possible. It’s better to have fewer gifts or services that are personalized, than a lot of generic stuff.
Clients Like a Bit of Space
Third, sometimes it’s just a bit over the top to constantly lavish someone in attention, gifts, and luxury services. People want a bit of space. To think, to enjoy, and to just be. It’s better to leave people wanting a bit more of you and sad that your time together has to come to an end, rather than to feel, “Sheesh lady, thanks for all of the presents but it’s a bit much. Can you lay off for awhile and give me a moment to breathe? “
Luxury Adds Up
Fourth, it really adds up. Lots of gifts, spa days, special events, taking them out to lunch, etc. really, really adds up. It could end up taking a huge portion out of your profits if you let it. Make sure this doesn’t happen. You should definitely be spending less than 5% of your project’s profits on pampering. If not closer to 2 or 3%.
A lot of businesses that work with high end clients can literally go under because they feel pressured to spend gobs and gobs of money on entertaining clients. It’s really not necessary. As you continually go higher and higher end, yes, you will have to spend more. But 30-40% of your profits? That’s just insanity and is a quick way to put yourself out of business. So just make sure that pressure doesn’t crush you. Five percent or less of your profits is more than enough.
A Business Can Survive without Gifts, It Can’t Survive Without Systems
So, is there a definitive number for how much time and effort should be spent on luxury? I believe a fantastic client experience is 80% systems and processes/20% pampering and luxury. It might actually be even closer to 90/10. To make it a bit more definitive, sprinkle maybe 3 or 4 surprises, events, gifts, throughout your projects, and it’ll be perfect. Not too much, not too little. The Goldilocks approach to pampering, just right.
And remember, you can never rely on luxury to do the job of hard, consistent work done in an efficient and friendly way. Your business can survive and thrive with just amazing systems and processes but no real pampering. Your business cannot survive and thrive with just amazing pampering but no systems and processes.
So the next time you’re wondering where you should be investing your time and money, either on systems and processes or luxury, 80% (or even 90%) of the time the answer is, systems and processes. Only 10-20% of the time is the answer luxury.
Pampering is the Last Priority, Not the First One
And remember, pampering and gifts shouldn’t even be a real focus for your design firm until you have already laid a great foundation. A foundation based on consistency, setting the right expectations, having employees who are continually well trained, you have clear and consistent design process, etc. Yes, it’s a lot more boring. And yes, it’s a lot less glitzy. But it is what will keep your doors open.
So just bring your best all day, everyday, with your clients by being prepared, responsible, reliable, and capable. Then with a few gifts and surprises sprinkled in here and there, you’ve truly delivered an incredible experience.
If you’d like even more ideas on how to provide the kind of client service that gets you higher fees and profits, visit the Services page to find out more!