One of my favorite business gurus, Seth Godin, has a great quote: “Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.” This is SOOO true! Without trust, you really have no business at all.
As interior designers, we’re in a service industry, so it’s even more critical for our clients and subcontractors to be able to trust us. They need to know that we are going to be true to our word in every part of the project. Here are the most important ways that you can build trust with your clients:
Be Honest About the Budget
I know! That sounds silly, but it is really about setting expectations with your client. People are investing their hard-earned money and you are guiding them about making the best decisions. This is going to be the first trust test in your client/designer relationship, so be upfront and give them realistic budget expectations. If they don’t want to do a project for a realistic budget, try to work together on the scope of work to fit their budget.
Keep It Real – No Matter What
I hate having to deliver bad news. But deliveries are often late. Sometimes product comes in damaged. The contractor could be fudging his budget a bit, too. All kinds of crazy things can happen on a project. So it’s critical that you keep the client up-to-date on where things stand. No, it isn’t fun to deliver news they may not want to hear. But if you can give it to them with a solution already prepared, they’re going to know you’re on their side!
Be On Time
This is a pet peeve of mine. I know your time is valuable, but in this case, your client’s time is MORE valuable. So for every meeting, job site visit, phone call, or visit to the marble slab yard, be on time and bring your smile! It shows that you respect your client and gives them faith in how you do business.
It’s going to happen…you’re going to make a mistake. Hey, you’re (WE’RE!) human. But, what happens next is really critical. Pushing the blame onto someone else or hemming and hawing about who’s at fault is just not a good (or professional) way to handle things! It’s better to immediately let the client know what happened, and how you’re going to make it right.
Your client contract or agreement is a critical tool in building trust. It should spell out every single thing that you will – and will not – do as part of the project. And you should sit down and review it with your client so everything is above-board and clear. Being transparent in how you do business is important for building trust!
One common denominator in all of those ideas for building trust is communication! I have systems (of course! Ha!) for staying in touch with my clients, and it keeps our relationships in a good place! Download my FREE Client Communication Log to start a process for creating that dialog with your clients!