As a designer, you’re always trying to find the balance between too much and too little. You’re avoiding too much color, too much pattern, too much scale. Then avoiding too little color, too little pattern, too little scale. Finding just the right amount of simplification is often one of the biggest challenges. But a necessary one to defeat. Because although there are a few select designers who put more things in a room than the client previously did, most designers put significantly less. Because as a designer, you’re incredibly mindful in that way. You know that every single piece must have a very specific purpose. Whether for function or beauty, you’re picking out each piece very, very thoughtfully. That exact same mindfulness and simplicity needs to be used when interacting with clients.
Share Simple Descriptions & Steps
When you’re sharing your process with a prospect, or describing what they need to prepare for a meeting, or sharing your design ideas during that first consultation, follow Einstein and “Make things as simple as possible. But no simpler.” You want to simplify your design process. Simplify your ideas. You want to show clients that working with you is easy. And do-able. And simple. Not overwhelming, or exhausting, or long and complicated.
Share with them the overall steps in your design process, “after this meeting there are really only five more steps in the process. They are…” And then list them out as simply as possible. No need to go into exhaustive detail, especially when clients are still in the decision making process. Overwhelming a prospect to the point of them checking out often means they shut down and stop being interested. They throw their hands up and say, “Never mind, this is all going to be too hard even with a professional. So let’s just not do this at all.”
Or when sharing your ideas, no need to get into the tiny details that you love, but the client most likely has no idea about, “On these windows I would like to do an inside mount relaxed roman shade in an ecru linen banded with a 1 1/4 inch periwinkle grosgrain ribbon.” Say what? I stopped listening after, “I would like to” because I couldn’t keep up.
Keep it Simple, Streamlined, & Showy
What do you do instead? Use simple language – “I would love to put roman shades in these windows with a light colored linen and a ribbon trim.” Streamlined steps and descriptions “During the installation, we’ll be handling everything. The movers, installers, cleaning crew. We’ll watch over every piece. Your only job is to donate the furniture in this checklist beforehand like we discussed.”
And when possible, show instead of tell. In all of my consultations, I recommend that the designer create a visual of their design process to share in that first consultation or meeting. A flow chart with simplified language so clients can actually see how one stage flows into the next and refer back to it as the project goes on. Rather than just hearing it from you and you’re not really sure if they’re fully listening or catching on. And of course, your flow chart shouldn’t have a million details of what each step entails. You can explain them more as that time comes. Giving an overview of each stage is all that’s needed.
No Need For Overwhelm, Just Relevant Details
It’s like the friend who goes on and on and on, she tells you every last detail about something, using industry jargon that you have no idea about because she loves what she does. (This might be me sometimes. Oops! Forgive me friends!) You stop listening. You start daydreaming. You can’t keep up. So you just give up. The same can happen with your clients and prospects. If you start overloading them with information, details, and specifics, they check out. And lose interest.
So the next time you’re speaking with clients, no reason to tell them every last detail about a fabric or wallpaper, or every tiny step that you go through to procure the items you’ve selected, unless you know they’d be interested. Break everything down into very clear and understandable stages that anyone can understand. That are relevant to them. Of course don’t simplify things so much that clients don’t understand how hard you work to manage the project, or feel “left in the dark” about how the project is going. But do simplify it to the point where they’re aware, but not overwhelmed. Make things as simple as possible, but not any simpler. Who knew Einstein was such a genius in business too?
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!