You know that in 2020, you want to make it an even bigger year.
So there’s not a lot of time left.
Now onto this week’s post! Few things are worse than disappointment. You have your hopes up, your expectations high, and you’re just waiting to be wowed, elated, and over the moon, and then, you’re not. You’re disappointed… Reality just didn’t match up with the thoughts, dreams, and visions you had in your head. And frankly it stinks. It really, really stinks.
It happens when you’re chatting back and forth with someone online, you’re so hopeful and starry eyed, and then meet them in person for your first date only to realize “yeah, this isn’t going to work out…” within the first few seconds of meeting.
It happens when you book that dream vacation at a 5 star resort and spend your days with visions of luxury amenities dancing in your head and then you take that first step into your room and… find out that the sink is constantly dripping, there are old, wet towels on the floor, and your bed is full of hair. Yay.
It happens when you receive a beautifully wrapped gift, anxiously tear it open, only to look and inside and think “oh, it’s a dog nightgown – for me, not the dog (true story by the way).”
It’s all disappointing. And something we all try our hardest to avoid.
You Can Avoid Some Disappointments
But the reality of life is, unfortunately it’s full of disappointments. Some we can avoid or prevent, but some we cannot. In business, and in interior design especially, that’s true on a daily basis. You can prevent mistakes in ordering, or scheduling, or just plain forgetting something that your client wanted changed, but you can’t avoid mistakes and disappointment in poor work done by a tradesmen, or a lamp being broken upon installation, or a torrential rain storm suddenly appearing as you carry in throw pillows that absolutely cannot get wet. Those things are completely out of your control.
So, what do you do? What do you do to handle all of those disappointments? Well, you get really, really good at handling and resolving the disappointments that aren’t preventable, and you work really, really hard on preventing disappointments that are.
Don’t Become Your Own Worst Enemy
Basically, you want to make sure that the picture you paint online, in publications, in your social media, in everything, about what it’s like to work with you, is completely in line with reality.
Here’s what I mean. As a designer, clients expect you to basically represent, well, good design. They expect all that you are, and do, to be beautiful. They see gorgeous photos on your site, a beautiful picture of you and your team, and maybe even a few photos of your gorgeous office. So, they paint a picture – a picture in their mind that they believe represents you, using the information they’ve seen and read about you.
And then, comes reality. They talk to you on the phone and all seems well with the world. You’re so kind and caring, easy to talk to, and you’re a great listener. They pay for the initial consultation, and excitedly await for the meeting. And then, things seem … different.
Well, This Wasn’t What I Was Expecting…
They go to your office and it’s not quite … what they were expecting. They were expecting something gorgeous, beautiful, well designed, well organized, something they can aspire to. And what they see is, well, a busy office. Lots of papers everywhere, nothing particularly “designer” looking, some pretty basic furniture that maybe looked nice at one point but is starting to look a bit worse for the wear now. They visit the restroom while they wait and it’s … not any better. It’s very basic, pretty clean, but not spotless. And there aren’t any paper towels.
Then once they finally meet you, they’re surprised by how different you look in person. On your site you look so professional, well put together, and in person… well it’s jeans, a cotton v neck, and some tennis shoes. You apologize for your appearance, you were just on a site visit.
“But still” they think, “couldn’t you have quickly swapped out shoes, thrown on a blazer and a necklace? Just to make it look like a bit of an effort was made? This isn’t what I was expecting” …. and they’re not sure what other surprises might be in store for them either. Maybe this isn’t the right firm for them…
This is the reality of well, feeling disappointed. To be disappointed literally means “sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.” Yikes. Not something I want to be serving up to my clients. And I’m sure you don’t want to be either.
Make Your Best & Your Everyday, the Same Thing
So what am I really saying here? Am I saying that you should put up a picture of you in jeans and a t shirt with messy hair on your site instead of one where you’re dressed up more than you have ever been in 10 years? Or that you should put up a picture of your slightly disheveled office so clients will know what things really look like? Just so they’re not disappointed when they see the “real” you?
Obviously, that sounds ridiculous. That’s not what you want people to see online. You would never pay someone to take a picture of a mess, and then pay someone else to put that mess online. You want the best version of yourself to be posted, to be shared, to be talked about, as much as possible.
So why are things so different when it comes to reality? For some reason when we take a picture of something, or type it out on a brochure, on a site, we are often writing about an ideal, rather than reality. We’re taking a picture of how we are at our absolute best, or how we want to be someday, but then in our day to day, well, we’re fine with not actually being that – even when we’re in front of clients.
But why? If you want clients to see a reality that is just as fantastic as what they’re hoping, if you want them to keep them from being disappointed – then make a point to make your your everyday self, office, and team just as good as your “photo ready” self, office, and team. Make the actual experience of working with you, just as ideal and fantastic as it says it will be on your site.
Great Marketing Only Benefits You If It Represents Reality
So often we give so much thought, effort, and investment into marketing the best version of ourselves and our firms. Writing, rewriting, … and rewriting so you can find just the right words to describe your brand and your firm. Searching online and in stores hour after hour just to find the perfect outfit for that headshot. Moving a chair a half inch this way, then that, then no let’s put it back in the original spot, just to find the right spot for that perfect shot.
But then in our day to day, we well, often live a different life. We live a life where we start to forget the standards we set for ourselves online. We live a life where we start to forget what we promised life would be like when working with us.
And then things start to slide – and understandably so. Life can be hard, really, really hard. And some days we just don’t want to put in that much effort. Everyone feels that way sometimes. I know I sure do. But what happens as a result? Disappointment. And lost trust.
Every Day You’re Representing the Best of Your Firm
It’s easy to forget that everyday we’re representing our firm. But to each and every one of your clients, and potential clients, you represent not only your firm, but good design. They look to you for what to do, what not to do, how to present what’s beautiful and well put together, what’s organized and neat – because they don’t know how. You are what they look up to as an influencer and a role model.
So when the reality of that first meeting hits and they realize that the way you present yourself is well pretty much the same as them, there may be some disappointment. They thought that your style would be formal than theirs, your bag and its contents would be well thought out, and that your office would be one of the most beautiful they’ve seen – certainly not like a regular dentist or doctor’s office. And when it’s not, they’re a little let down.
Control What You Can
There are more than enough disappointments that you can’t control in the interior design world. But how you present yourself to your clients isn’t one of them. Everyday, you have complete control over how your office looks, how much effort you put into your dress, what your documents look like, how much your prepare, when you arrive for meetings, and your overall demeanor. Those you have complete control over.
So you don’t want to waste your time, or the clients’, losing sight of that. Don’t only put the best version of yourself online. Put the best version of yourself in front of your clients – each and every day, over and over and over. Because your clients deserve your best, and so do you.
Share in the comments below a time when you’ve been a bit disappointed by an ideal that was set for you online, but found out was a lot different when you experienced it in real life.
And if you want to become even more capable of making your ideal experience the real experience that your firm delivers, join“The Exceptional Experience,” for the last session of 2019!
During our time together you’ll get conversation scripts to handle discussions about fees, project issues, and so much more, helping you to provide the kind of client experience that gets you greater profits, efficiency, and loyalty, register here now!