Interior design is a partnership between client and designer to create a dream space. But where does this collaboration begin?
The Initial Consultation is one of the first vital steps, yet, there’s a surprising amount of uncertainty on how to approach it. Whether you’re a seasoned designer or just starting, let’s dive into the art and science of nailing that initial consultation, ensuring a successful project ahead.
Setting the Stage: Prior to the Consultation
Before diving into the intricacies of a design consultation, it’s important to know – the consultation is not the curtain-raiser. It’s one part of your onboarding process, and generally comes after an initial enquiry, delivery of your Investment Guide and a free Discovery Call. Remember, the Discovery Call is like a coffee date – brief (no more than 20 minutes), insightful, and without commitments. From here, the next step is the Initial Consultation.
The Heart and Soul of an Interior Design Consultation
Seasoned designers who lean into consultations have honed it to an art. They understand its value in streamlining the entire design process. Whether these consultations occur face-to-face or through digital channels like Zoom, the goal is to understand project logistics and client preferences. But always remember, the core intention is two-fold: ensuring the client is a good fit for your business and understanding their vision to draft an impeccable proposal.
Decoding Consultation Pricing
Should you be charging for your design consultations? Here’s my take:
- Gratuitous Glimpses: If your consultation is a casual meet-up, spanning no more than 30 minutes, most designers keep it complimentary. It’s about gauging synergy more than anything else. However, ensure you’ve comprehensively assessed potential clients through prior interactions. Post-meeting, keep communications succinct, directing them primarily towards a proposal. Your design acumen is your currency – don’t dispense it for free.
- Paid Insights: If you’re investing over half an hour, offering glimpses into your design mind, it’s time to charge. Typically, consultations hover between 1-2 hours. Always keep it a flat rate, adjusting only for exceptional situations.
Before the consultation, ensure you’ve:
- Received a comprehensive client contact form.
- Shared your services and pricing guide.
- Completed the initial discovery call.
- Assessed project compatibility.
Then, lock in the consultation date. A pro tip here – always secure payment before solidifying the consultation date. Reinforce the professional aura of your services by sending a professional “What to Expect” email prior to the consultation.
Crafting a Signature Consultation Experience
During a complimentary consultation, focus on a swift space walkthrough, discussing broad-stroke ideas. If it’s a paid session, here’s a blueprint:
- Introduce and outline the session’s flow.
- Immerse yourself in the client’s world.
- Navigate through the project spaces.
- Delve into budgetary constraints and visions.
- (Optional) Measure spaces if absolutely essential.
- Touch on your design process and what’s next.
- Address any lingering questions.
To ensure consultations remain concise, use a structured checklist.
Beyond the Consultation
Post-consultation, share about your structured process and address any queries. You may also choose to leave a printed client pack with a condensed version of your offerings, alongside FAQs. Rushing a contract or on-the-spot pricing can feel abrupt and pressured.
Every touchpoint with your client should be imbued with ease, sophistication, and clarity. So, always ponder – how can you make each interaction effortless and memorable, both for your client and your brand?
For deeper insights on resonating with your dream clients, tune into my podcast, This is What Your Ideal Client Wants to See , and for that added boost of confidence and clarity in Pricing your services, grab a copy of My Industry Guide to Pricing your Interior Design Services here.