By Cheryl Draa
of Cheryl Draa Interior Designs
- To help you relate to designs your clients have seen and are familiar with, read shelter magazines that are popular in your area and go to local home shows. That way you will know what they are looking at and can reproduce those designs for them.
- When first meeting with a client, qualify them. Determine if they are ready to buy or just looking. Does their spouse need to be present for a purchase? It is helpful to guage what type of buyer they are by asking, once at the appointment, what kind of car they drive and how they went about purchasing it. Did they spend weeks looking for it, custom order it, or select one from the lot? All those answers translate into how they make decisions and spend their money. This information can help you target them better.
- If at all possible, when you give the client a quote, get the deposit. Don't waste weeks getting back to the customer with a quote, learn how to price while still in the home so they can commit then.
- Staying organized is essential. Plan out each step of a project to ensure you don't miss anything. Be sure to follow up on all time frames with the client, including scheduling installation, any fabric backorders, etc. Taking the time to follow-up will save time in the long run-time that can be used to meet with new clients and increase sales.
- Create a contract that explains how you work and review expectations with your client when signing a contract. This ensures a mutual understanding of your business agreement.
- Current clients are great sources for referrals and repeat business. It is much easier and more affordable to keep a client than it is to start fresh with new clients. Be sure to answer phone calls and emails as soon as possible and update clients on fabrication progress and installation dates. Maintaining contact keeps them informed and happy to continue doing business with you.
- In order to maintain a balance between work and your personal life, hire an accountant. It keeps your finances straight and frees up time that you can spend with your family. After reaching about $3-5,000 in sales per week, the accounting work is probably a full time job, best handled by a professional accountant. This will keep your mind fresher and allow you to develop better designs for your clients.
- Make it easy for your customers to do business with you. Process credit cards including American Express. Ninety-nine percent of my business is transacted via credit cards, with 85% of my customers using American Express. This is convenient for the customer and makes it easier to collect any balances.
- Be shameless! Network in clubs, meet new people, tell everyone you meet what you do and give them a card. You are your best marketing tool.
- Keep up on the latest trends and products. You may discover new solutions to customer design challenges that will help you close the sale. Your knowledge of what is available in the market may be just the thing the client needs and will make them purchase with you. Keeping abreast of the latest trends and products will benefit you and your clients. Happier clients equal repeat business.