When a potential customer invites you into their home to assess a project, the sticks and carpet are not what is foremost in their minds. Looking at you, they want to be comfortable that their home and family will have your full attention when it comes time to do the work.
The questions they ask are about structure, procedure and schedules. The answers they give define dimensions and budget.
Underlying the entire exchange, however, is the plea to recognize their vulnerability and the hope that you will treat them well.
For most clients, the process to renovate their home is a huge undertaking. For many, one of the largest decisions after family, career and the purchase of the home in the first place.
Many have done nothing like this before. They have brought you to their home to solve a problem and part of them is afraid it can only get worse.The horror stories done to neighbors and relatives are forward in their minds, supporting the idea that this will be an ordeal to survive rather than a life event that thrives.
Sometimes the fear is palpable in their eyes.
Your process to win them over has already begun with your marketing. Whatever has been done to bring them to dial, text or email has created an impression in your favor. This presents the opportunity to begin with confidence and reassure them their choice will be a good one.
The details of an appointment are secondary to the tone of voice. The attitude must be projected that all is easily accomplished and nothing hard at all.
My personal challenge is to keep my vehicle clean and organized. Conventional wisdom states that if the environment is sloppy so is the product. Conversely, a spotless and scratchless beast of a truck with a huge rack and no ladder may indicate a contractor of bravado and no substance.
Of critical importance is to be on time and relaxed, not hurried as if another appointment looms on the clock. Ten minutes late is okay as long as a call is made five minutes before the expectation of your arrival. Twenty minutes later with no contact equals not bothering to show up at all.
Even as they huff and puff in protest, I still slip off my shoes at every appointment. The simple gesture demonstrates respect and care, speaking volumes more than a picture or words to support your methods.
The initial conversation can accomplish a lot of work, but the main purpose is to put your prospect at ease. Even the cunning wolf knows the stakes are best improved by a casual attitude and a discerning eye.
No matter the size of the job, more is being measured than the square footage. This interview goes both ways because regardless of your need to take a deposit, some clients serve you better for being referred to the competition.
My most satisfying results have come with initial meetings that felt like an introduction to a friendship. By commenting on the perennials along the walkway or the art on the wall, the scattered toys or spotless countertop, their humanity is acknowledged and they will likely share more.
More importantly than selling your own good habits, it is often enough just to be them. Even as they want to know they can trust you, the work at hand is to draw them out, listen to their dreams and reassure their worried hearts that nothing is out of the ordinary and very little is too hard to accomplish.