Five Steps to a Smoother Client Process

Feb 21

From onboarding to invoicing, client communications can put a real drain on your time and productivity. Without processes in place, you might find yourself constantly fielding fruitless inquiry emails and random phone calls. All that said, in a service-driven industry, it is incredibly important that your clients and potential clients feel valued. The best way to strike a balance between being accessible and guarding your time is procedure. Having guidelines in place from the beginning creates clear channels of communication on your terms.

Today, we’re sharing five tried-and-true steps to a smoother client process that sets reasonable expectations and gives you more time for your craft.

 

5 Steps to a Smoother Client Process

 

 

1. Use a Google Voice number for your studio to eliminate the potential for after-hours calls.

As an interior designer, there are very few situations in which clients would need your personal cell phone number. A Google Voice number helps you keep work at work and allows you to catch up on calls at an allotted time, instead of being interrupted all day long. Having a business-specific number will also add a little professionalism to your early communications with potential clients.

 

“Set communication expectations upfront. Be clear about your preferred way(s) of communication and the hours that you work. For example, I tell all of my clients that I don’t typically respond after 5pm on weekdays and don’t work on weekends. If I set these expectations upfront, I find that my clients totally respect them.”- Brett Foken of Decorotation

 

5 Steps to a Smoother Client Process | Light gray and blonde wood kitchen | The Identite Collective

Interior Design: Decorotation

 

2. Add a clause in your contract that all client communications must be made via email or by-appointment phone call.

Texts and DMs are so easy to overlook or lose, especially in the course of a busy workday. We recommend keeping as much communication as possible on email, because everything is time stamped and searchable. If you have a client that is phone only, then have them schedule an appointment for a call. You can choose a time that works with your schedule, and they will know they have your full attention.

 

3. Keep proofs digital so feedback can be thought-out and not rushed.

For our client work, we like to send proofs and request feedback via Dubsado (more about that here). Having proofs accessible from anywhere allows our clients to give it a thorough look and provide us with the information we need to perfect it.

 

5 Steps to a Smoother Client Process | Light gray and blonde wood kitchen | The Identite Collective

Interior Design: Decorotation

 

4. Provide full design concepts with a total pricing sheet, not an itemized price list.

Listing prices can be really overwhelming for clients and cause them to focus too much on one or two more expensive line items. They might not understand the need to splurge on those particular things and save money elsewhere. Give them an opportunity to trust your judgement and vision and less room to nitpick.

 

“Have a detailed questionnaire on your website to help capture all initial project details. This helps to weed out some of the non-serious prospects.” – Brett Foken of Decorotation

 

5. Outline billing schedules in your initial media kit to filter out any unqualified inquiries.

Not everyone will be a great fit, budget-wise. As much as we would all love to help everyone, it’s important to know what your time is worth. Being upfront about the cost of your services and how it will be paid is an easy way to pre-filter your potential clients. It saves everyone time and inbox space.

 

“I always setup a quick initial phone call with any qualified leads that I receive through my website to just chat with them a bit more about their project, their expectations but also to describe my process, rates, etc. upfront. If all goes well then I setup an in-person consultation with them which I always charge for.” – Brett Foken of Decorotation

 

5 Steps to a Smoother Client Process | Serene bohemian inspired bedroom | The Identite Collective

Interior Design: Decorotation

 

Another step you can take to narrow down your inquiry list is to include a dropdown option for budget on website inquiry page instead of a “fill in the blank.” This way, you can control the minimum budget that can be submitted and help deter project inquiries that won’t work financially.

 

 

For more suggestions about procedure and how it affects productivity, head over to our in-depth post on processes. As we continue this series, we’d love to know what business processes you struggle with creating and maintaining.

 

Lead Image via Studio McGee

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  1. Agata

    February 21st, 2019 at 8:25 am

    This is a helpful read thank you for sharing! Can you please share how to turn down clients? I’ve had many inquiries but I don’t want to offend people in essentially telling them it’s not a good fit.

  2. acasey

    February 25th, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    This is such a tricky one Agata, but I can usually pinpoint it to a specific reason. For example, I’ll clarify that we only take on clients doing a complete rebrand + web design, we don’t work with existing logos. For designers, I suggest creating a boiler plate email that falls along the lines of:

    “Hi _______,

    Thank you so much for reaching out! Your design plans sound so exciting. While I don’t think we’re the best fit for the project for (aesthetic, budget, location, timeline) reasons, I’d love to recommend a few designers I think would be a perfect fit for you.

    – Junior designer A
    – Designer B
    – Designer C

    Best of luck with your journey!

    XO – hope that helps!

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