I still remember the day, about 5 years ago, when my first client as an independent designer reached out for design services. Working in a firm, there was an admin team who introduced new clients to the services. Without that experience, I jumped right into the project- talking about the space and developing the program. It didn't take long for me to realize that the introduction is just as much for me as it is for my clients. It is important that our clients are happy with the services we offer, have realistic expectations, and understand what we offer as a firm (because the answer to this can't just be "interiors and architecture").
Our process differs with each client, but we have developed some great 'checkpoints' to make sure we've hit all the key points.
Over the years, I went from jumping right into offering an in-home consultation, then a phone consultation, and today we do a free 30-minute project feasibility meeting in our office. In order to book this consultation, a short questionnaire must be filled out. There are a few reasons we require this:
Set a realistic understanding that a design project requires participation and work from both parties.
Gather important information- is the budget realistic? Is the timeline realistic? What are we starting off with? What are the expectations?
Save time in the consultation and provide us with written information directly from the homeowner- preventing any confusion.
The in-office consultation gives our potential clients the opportunity to see us where we work. I find that important, to be able to visualize someone working for me in an office surrounded by samples, drawings, and inspiration. Thirty minutes is not a lot of time, so we need to be succinct and to the point.
At the end of this meeting, we provide the potential client with some information about the firm, and a print-out summary of our conversation, and homework we need from them to be able to move forward.
Homework?? Yup... many times homeowners come in unaware of what the budget SHOULD be. We cannot tell someone what they should spend on a design any more than a car salesperson can tell them what to spend on a car. Now, if the salesperson knows the buyer is looking for a brand-new red Tesla with certain features, leather interiors, etc. etc., sure a price can be put together. But typically, the homeowner isn't aware of the details until the design is established. So, a better approach is to determine a comfortable range and share this range with us and the contractor. We can tell you what we can do with that number.
Sometimes owners just want to know what the bare minimum expected to spend on a kitchen remodel. Well, if it's the bare minimum, it may not be a designer project, but a DIY project. Keep in mind that designers work to be creative, cohesive, and provide the highest quality we can for the budget provided... not meet bare minimums.
Coming to your home:
Once we have chatted in person, feel a good connection and are ready to move forward with your project, we start with a site evaluation meeting. We can review the agreement at this time or take our time and meet again later to review the agreement. If we are working with a smaller existing space, measurements may be taken at this time, however we typically include an in-depth measure to follow this meeting.
If this is a construction project, we would love to involve your contractor in this meeting. If you do not have a contractor yet- we suggest inviting up to three contractors for 30-minutes each. This allows us to be more involved with the contractor and ensure a smooth project from start to finish.
What happens from here is dependent on the size and complexity of the project. Kitchen and bathroom projects may include another, slightly more in-depth questionnaire. Larger projects, such as full home renovations may involve a lengthier interview process.
We do have a few requirements before we sign an agreement:
A clear budget must be set.
Clear expectations must be communicated.
All necessary information- research the client has done, dimensions and availability of existing pieces for the designer to review, requirements for users, etc. must be provided to the designer. It is never a good idea for us to get started with unknowns.
If you are looking to start your own design process with Waldron Designs, get started with our questionnaire here!