How to Fall in Love. (architects)
This is an exciting time!!!! You are about to fall head over heels AND get what you designed BUILT!!!!
I need to immediately recline on my Eileen Gray to recover composure.
So I do know what I am talking about here. I have been both designer and client and now I have the whole life coaching thing too so lets have fun with this one too, okay? My own, from the heart;
5 Steps to Falling in Love With Your Client.
STEP 1✩ DO GREAT WORK
Simple, but that's you. Living your dream, designing your way to a better world and that will sing out to your dream client.
STEP 2 ✩ SHOW OFF
Show off your great work. Have a beautiful, easy to use website. Be helpful by being clear on what you offer. Make it easy to be found, understood and liked because somewhere out there clients are dreaming of you.
STEP 3 ✩ DATING
Clients need to see things built to make an accurate assessment of you and your work. When calls come in, requesting to visit some of your projects, treat these people as if they are already adored clients. Also make sure who ever answers knows that this is your office policy. When I was a client in Abu Dhabi I remember calling up a very large office fit out firm in London. I was looking to invite this firm directly onto a shortlist for a design competion I was running. I struggled to get through to the right person and in the end the firm was just too late and missed their chance. (Interestingly they have since closed their design office.)
Find out what they are looking for. Great clients are already clear and can email you their Brief. Based on that, choose the most appropriate projects and have the designers who worked on them join you.
WHY? You are looking for the answers to these two internal questions;
Can you understand them? Can you trust them?
WHEN you meet? Stay present. Stay tuned-into yourself.
WHAT does your gut say? Pay more attention to this, and pay more attention to what your client is not asking. See if you can give as much relevant and helpful information as possible. You are here to feel things. Also let go of any notion that has you trying too hard to impress.
If you don’t understand anything, say so. For example they may talk about how they want their space to feel. Ask them to explain what that means to them. Try the simple phrase “Say more” if you meet a hurdle and you don’t quite know how to continue developing trust.
Ask how much they want to spend in total, including contingency. Yep. Start talking money at that first meeting. Don’t worry about any mind stories around this. Let that go too. You are helping you both by starting right away. The person may not know the first thing about how that total sum will be spent. Give easy to understand percentages so that they have an idea.
General impressions: Does your client come across as organised? Are they on time? Are they happy? Do they love their dream home/project? Are they open? Transparent? Authentic?
But if they are bitching about other designers? They may well have been burned by a bad experience. If so ask them to outline the facts of what happened and see if you can ascertain what it was exactly that went wrong. Establishing this can throw light on what their real expectations of you are. Also you will get a better feel for what level of responsibility they may or may not have brought into that relationship.
You want to design out any problems right from the get go.
STEP 4 ✩ YOUR PLACE AND THEIR’S
Invite them to your office, not only to show them around but also to see how comfortable they are with reading plans and concept boards.
So you are crystal clear on what their vision is, go through their brief, line by line. This is so important. If you meet languaging limitations, ask them to describe the feeling states they are trying to convey in relation to existing spaces you both know.
If you feel this is a relationship you would love to commit to, you may want to visit their site if at all possible. You have met them. Now you will want to see the project location and get a feel for what is involved.
While there, ask to be shown around anything else relevant. Their current home might be or maybe they are looking to design around something they already own. You will need to get a handle on the whole project piece eventually and save yourself potential heart ache and do as much finding out as possible early on...
Ask who will use the space and if there are many get clear on who will be your main point of contact. You want to rule out any ‘designing by committee’ for sure!
Stay tuned into your gut. You don’t need to give away anything further to anyone at this stage. Take note of anything that is; great information/bothering you/something you might need later. With any luck you be asked to supply a formal proposal. I’m sure you will. (smiling)
You can of course ask how many other design firms are in the running. When the RFP comes in, answer it yourself. Make sure it is NOT generic. Treat it with respect and return it as soon as possible. With love.
STEP 5 ✩ COMMITMENT
Hurray! You were picked! Fantastic, but put a contract in place.
Your client will want this too but if they refuse, don’t work for them. Protect yourself. When all legalities are in place proceed with your eyes open and heart skipping.
This is so exciting!!! Go forth and create!!!
But remember to do the following to keep your side of the bargain. Life will always give us an opportunity to behave well, this love-in with your client is one of those opportunities.
Keep an open and honest and relationship.
Be kind, be calm, be firm and be clear in all communications.
Manage change well.
You will be asking your client to make decisions. Remember that your client may need help so do so. They themselves may be rocking out a profession that you have no idea about, so put yourself in their shoes. Be super clear in presentations.
You know that they can trust you to do your best. They are visionary and this is their dream you are being entrusted with.
Allow them to push themselves and you to create something unique and wonderful.
A concept they had in the original brief may never be feasible. An idea your beloved client feels completely married to will have to go in order to move forward. You will probably have to explain things gently.
Together you create and finish something that you both LOVE.
They write a gushing testimonial for your website to go alongside the stunning photos that they allowed you to publish. You are in heaven! How did you get so lucky???!
They adore you and are totally inspired and uplifted by the experience.
On your website you blog about the Dream Client no longer being a myth. Because they are actually A Legend.
You become life long professional friends (anything else is up to you).