In fact, procrastination in some cases costs a client in many ways, from cost reductions to wasted time; and, goodwill team coordination opportunities.
Your professional team makes a substantial initial investment in you and your potential project, long before the documents are presented. It’s easy to make assumptions about what a “reasonable” investment of time, travel, speculation and ideas is before an agreement is signed. And this reality deserves to be discussed.
The sensitivity on this question of hesitation is important, and there are certainly two sides to the situation.
When a potential client begins to search for the right and available professionals for their planned project, it is reasonable for them to want to learn some of the basic approaches that the designer takes for certain challenges. It is equally important to know the financial parameters of the fees and expenses and to explore the professional background.
Most professionals will have representative installations for their potential clients to illustrate their different approaches. Because every project is unique, a prospect may not see what exactly they have in mind. (That’s because it hasn’t been designed yet!)
Questions should be freely asked on both sides; and the answers must be relevant. However, sometimes a potential client wants to move from general concepts and understandings to a specific design! This is where a professional needs to slow down and emphasize the difference between discussing the possibilities and actually starting the job.
Unfortunately, this can also be the place where a prospect begins to procrastinate about finalizing the details and actually starting the project. It can get risky.
Your design team is a business enterprise with precise guidelines and parameters, regarding what is presented to their prospect (s) before and after signing. Each situation presents specific challenges. It takes skill and patience to show that the client’s vision is understood and will be designed to their satisfaction. But often a potential client really wants to know – in advance – what the completed design will be!
A designer and design teams need to be successful in gaining the trust of their prospects without actually starting work on the preliminary presentations they make up front – at no cost.
It should not be forgotten either that the interior design of an environment begins with basic concepts, then evolves, develops and asserts itself as the project progresses through its stages. A lot is learned – and often changed – as the client and designer collaborate in the process. Not everything can be known in advance. Customers often change their minds.
When all the preliminaries have been covered and a reasonable number of factors have been taken into account, then it’s time to finish the paperwork and get started. Yet when a prospect truly feels they should have more upfront (at no cost) than a professional team considers reasonable before signing and hiring, the whole process can get bogged down.
This is when a damaging procrastination can set in. Although the questions were answered, the references and the portfolio were presented, the references were explored, and the designer and the team invested time and expertise for free – the decision and the actions necessary to move from the front can still be held back!
This is also when potential timelines, cost benefits, availability of subcontractors, and a planned place in your designer’s schedule are compromised. Most professionals generally project a temporary space on their critical path schedules. When a prospect has indicated their satisfaction and intention, and then dithers on follow-up, it’s usually the project itself that pays the price.
It must be recognized that sometimes hesitation involves factors outside the design project, perhaps of a personal nature. The prospect may also have a conflict of choice among the available entrepreneurs. Either way, it’s fair, and it’s a good business to communicate such cases to those who have already invested in you and your proposed project.
Robert Boccabella, BFA has been Director and Founder of Business Design Services and Certified Interior Designer in private practice for over 30 years. Boccabella offers Designing to Fit the Vision © in collaboration with [email protected] To contact him, dial 707-263-7073; email him at [email protected] or visit www.BusinessDesignServices.com or Face Book at Business Design Services.