For most interior designers, closing jobs is a job in itself. We know that it requires more time and effort than most clients realize. It can be especially frustrating when you pour your time into communications with potential clients, only to be met with indecision, hesitation, and no new jobs on the horizon. In this helpful guide, we’ll show you some of our most effective strategies and communication techniques to quell client concerns and move forward with projects in a timely manner. Keep reading for 5 tips to close interior design jobs with confidence.
1. Qualify Your Lead
When a potential client reaches out, the first thing you should do is qualify your lead. You can do this by providing transparent information about your business and by gathering information from potential clients.
For example, consider whether to put pricing on your website or add a question about budget to your initial questionnaire. Listing pricing on your website may turn some potential clients away, but it can also help you make sure that you don’t spend time on a lead that will never become a client. It all depends on whether you think an initial conversation is worth your time, based on your business and financial goals. To help yourself get started, establish criteria for yourself about the types of clients that will be a good match for your services.
If you only get one piece of information out of your client, be sure it’s their budget! Understanding how much a client is willing to spend on furnishings is the key to helping them feel in control of the design process. While you should make the total cost of the project clear, try to emphasize what you can provide for your client at that cost. For example, working with you gives them access to products and pricing that they wouldn’t be able to access on their own. By focusing on exclusivity, you will show your clients that your services offer something valuable to them.
2. Check Clients Against Your Ideal Client Avatar
After qualifying your lead and speaking with a potential client, go over the information that you have gathered to see if they fit this ideal client avatar and how your services fit their needs.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do they trust you and have faith in your abilities? Are they willing to give up some control to allow you to manage the process? If not, are you comfortable working with a hands-on client?
- Will their personality fit with yours? What about their style?
- Can their vision be achieved through your areas of expertise?
- How are their manners in the initial communication? Are they kind and polite? Does it seem like you will be treated professionally throughout the process?
Most importantly, trust your gut. Consider offering another one of your services if you feel that it might be a better fit for a potential client. If you are uninterested in working with them after the initial call, it’s okay to turn down the job. It is almost always difficult to decline work, but part of being a professional is learning when to stand up for yourself and say no. Remember that every client – whether they are or aren’t a good fit – has the power to make a significant impact on your business reputation.
3. Prepare Your Proposal
Once you have determined that a client is a good fit, the next step is to prepare a proposal for them. Make sure to incorporate the information you have gathered and tailor the proposal to their specific needs. Instead of sending it to them via email to review, consider presenting it on a live Zoom call. This gives you an opportunity to break down costs and address any questions that might cause them to hesitate. By taking the time to meet with them personally, you also demonstrate that their project is a priority for you.
The proposal is meant to make your client feel excited about the design process, but keep in mind that it is also your chance to set expectations and boundaries with them. You can protect your profitability by clearly defining deliverables and your pricing model. Let them know the maximum amount of time you are willing to spend for a certain retainer amount, as well as any hourly rates or fees. You should also communicate your working hours, when you are available to meet with them, how they can contact you, and what they can expect during each stage of the process.
4. Be Willing to Negotiate
Even if you have the perfect proposal, you should anticipate that there will probably be some changes to the initial proposal. Seeing all of the details laid out before them can sometimes cause clients to change their minds, lean in a different direction, or elaborate on points that weren’t crystal clear before. When this happens, the key is to be flexible and willing to negotiate.
If the client is hesitant about the details of the proposal, be sure to ask questions so that you can understand what is causing their hesitation. Then, look for aspects of the proposal that can be revised to address their concerns and meet their goals. Are there services that can be removed? Does the client need space plans and renderings? Perhaps they are willing to purchase directly from a vendor to save on order tracking fees. Negotiation during the closing phase is usually a good indication of the collaborative experience that you will have with your client throughout the design process. Be sure to show them that you are a team player who can develop a customized agreement to satisfy their specific needs.
5. Make Sure You Have a Solid Contract
Once negotiations have been finalized, the last step in closing an interior design job is creating a contract. Many designers aren’t sure how to draft a contract that sufficiently protects their business, so they get stuck working for what seems like forever on a project that is not profitable.
Situations like this can be avoided by including proper protections in a contract. A contract is meant to align client expectations and ensure that everyone is on the same page before you begin working. It should also tell your clients what to expect when the unexpected happens. Drafting up a contract can be complicated, but we’ve simplified the process by breaking down 5 of the most important protection clauses for contracts on our blog.
Just like you presented the proposal on a live Zoom call, it is wise to present the contract to your potential client in a similar fashion. It can be a virtual or in-person meeting, but make sure that you use the time to review the terms of the contract thoroughly with the client. When they’re ready to sign, we recommend using Docusign as a quick and efficient tool to collect signatures.
Need help integrating these closing strategies into your business model? 4Dbiz Founder and CEO, Shayna Rose, would be happy to join your team as Fractional COO. She can show you how to close interior design jobs with confidence, develop a profitable pricing model, write contracts that offer protection, and streamline your day-to-day business operations. Schedule a demo with our team to learn more.