I recently got asked by a potential client what they can expect in our initial meeting and surprisingly, no one’s ever asked me before. It seems fair to want to know, especially because my initial meeting costs the client money. Anyway, this got me thinking about coming up with some sort of itinerary for initial client meetings. I like consistency and uniformity in business where I can manage it so this seems like a logical step for me.
In the past, I’ve talked about all sorts of things with a client and it’s not always consistent. Sometimes a client wants ideas from the designer as to what I would do with the space. This gets tricky, and sometimes awkward. I’m selling my education and time honed intellectual property. Meaning, my business is my ideas and my ability to execute them. Some clients only respect the “ability to execute” part but the ideas part is the most important. Obviously, I can’t just give away my ideas.
This has always been a bit awkward for me because I don’t want to be so tight lipped that I’m not giving the client reason to hire me but I also don’t want to give away SO MUCH that they no longer need me. I worked with Rick Hammell, contractor, on Studio SLK in Evanston and on another basement remodel in Evanston. I asked him how he deals with clients wanting ideas ideas ideas. Rick told me to simply tell them things that I’ve done in the past. This makes perfect sense! First of all, chances are whatever I’m talking about is somewhere on the internet anyway be it on my website or Facebook. Second of all, this doesn’t give them my ideas for their space (because they haven’t paid for them) but it does give them ample examples of the kinds of things I am capable of.
All that to say, this is the new Order of Operations that I’m going to try to implement (this afternoon actually):
Things that need to be discussed-
- Scope of work
- Desired aesthetic
- Inspiration- images, spaces, artwork, etc.
- Budget- my fee included
Things I like to do-
- Note things the client hates- colors, flowers, etc.
- Survey – Measurements, outlet/vent/etc placement, etc. if I get the job.
And Boom. I know it’ll have to be tweaked a little based on the needs of the client. We’ll see how it goes.