Episode 34: The Client Questionnaire: When to Send and What to Ask

You gotta get to know your client, and a questionnaire is a great way to learn about them, their family, their needs, and their budget. Here’s are the questions Kate and Lesley ask, how and when they send their questionnaires, and why a questionnaire is so darn useful.

Episode 34 Show Notes

Key Takeaways:

  • [4:31] The questionnaire we’re talking about today is not the initial intake form on your website (which gathers basic information). This is something we use when a client has booked a paid session
  • [4:58] This questionnaire can be a really good test to see how committed a client is and how ready they are start the project   
  • [6:40] Remind clients that the reason they fill out this questionnaire in advance is so you can show up having a little bit more information about them and in that way you can make the most of your time together
  • [8:42] The easiest way to deliver these questionnaires is through a link they can fill out online 
  • [10:00] Make sure it is a low-barrier to entry for clients. Don’t let tech or a complicated process  get in the way of getting their answers
  • [11:07] Similarly, make sure that your initial intake form has a low-barrier to entry. When potential clients  are reaching out to you and see that your form has 15-20 questions, you will potentially lose them. Stick to 4-5 key questions
  • [13:13] Generally speaking, it’s too soon to ask the budget question in the initial intake form, so it might be better to include it in your questionnaire
  • [14:31] You can ask about the budget using the “good, better, best” approach.  Give examples, such as price points of furniture, that fall under each category to see what price range the client is comfortable with
  • [16:42] It is up to you when to choose when the best time is to ask about the budget but the biggest mistake is to not addressing at all
  • [17:15] Start asking about the home to get some context – What year was it built? What style is it? How many square feet?  
  • [19:00] Aside from their contact information, ask for the contact info of their partner/spouse and key decision makers so everyone is looped in from the beginning
  • [19:22] Ask about future plans – How long have you lived in your home and how long do you plan to live there? Are there any anticipated changes in the next 5 years (babies, college, retirement, etc.)? What are your long term goals for your home (forever home, resell eventually, flipping, other, etc.)
  • [19:43] Ask about family and pets – What are their names? How old are your kids? Are there any special needs or requirements they have?
  • [22:18] Having and remembering all the information about their kids and pets once you meet them is something clients will appreciate and love!
  • [23:14] Other personal questions to ask related to their home –Tell me about yourself and your family. Where did you grow up and does it have any influence on you? Any significant travels that influenced you? 
  • [24:20] Asking questions about their lifestyle helps with the functionality aspect of design – Do you like entertaining? If you do, what style? How frequent?  Are they large or small groups? Any activities or hobbies? 
  • [27:35] Ask about logistics. The logistics are different with each different type of house, such as a condo, a house with an HOA, etc.
  • [28:50] When asking about budget, make sure your categories are broad
  • [29:31] A great starting point would be: a) under $10,000 b) $10,000-$50,000 c) $50,000-$100,000 d) $100,000 or more. But at the end of the day, you know your clients best and you know what works for you
  • [31:16] Another important question – Have you worked with an interior designer before? How was your experience? Approach with this curiosity
  • [33:21] Ask about their decision-making process to gauge  how it will be like to work with them – Are they quick and confident? Do they take a lot of time to make decisions?
  • [34:44] Ask questions that will help you understand how to handle decisions and proposals – On a scale from 1 to 10, how adventurous do you consider yourself?
  • [36:11] You can  also ask about colors, are there any colors they really love and dislike? 
  • [36:18] Ask them about their inspiration – Do they have any design ideas, images, Pinterest boards?  
  • [36:49] Leave an opportunity at the end for them to elaborate or add anything they feel is important – Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
  • [38:55] You can look at these questionnaires and if it’s half-done or they didn’t even bother, it says a lot about their level of commitment and what kind of clients they will be
  • [42:22] Put together your initial questionnaire and run it by a couple of people so you can get a fresh perspective
  • [42:48] You want to make sure that clients understand the intent behind your questions. Remind them that if there’s something they’re not comfortable with, they don’t have to answer 
  • [43:13] Interior design is a personal experience so giving clients the opportunity to share a little bit about themselves in a safe place can set the tone for the rest of the project 
  • [44:29] We encourage you not to skip this step, no matter how small the project is.Having this questionnaire can really help you connect authentically with your clients and make them feel heard and understood

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