Episode 35: How to Rock The In-Person Consultation

The first in-person consultation can feel a bit intimidating, but we’re going to help you get over that fear. In addition to walking you through our consultation processes and best practices, we’re also sharing what we wish we knew earlier: like what to bring, what to wear, how to start an end the consultation, and making sure you get paid before you go. Kate and Lesley do a lot the same, but there are some notable differences. Listen in and get some ideas to up-level your consultations!

Episode 35 Show Notes

Key Takeaways:

  • [6:54] You should always charge for in-person consultations. It shows legitimacy in you as a business and that your time and ideas are valuable  
  • [7:18] Payment in advance – you should be expecting clients to pay upon confirming the appointment, not when they get to the consultation
  • [7:52] If they’re paying for it, it’s your responsibility to give them your best ideas. It gives them a snapshot of what you’re capable of and how much value you can give them
  • [11:54] There’s a common feeling of nervousness and fearing you won’t be able to give clients a solution or your best ideas, but this feeling is completely normal
  • [12:43] One way to calm your nerves is to set their expectations of what’s actually achievable. Set the bar a bit lower than you are comfortable with and overdeliver
  • [13:15] Make sure your priorities of why you’re there are clear so you won’t get sidetracked with things that won’t be a part of the project
  • [13:35] Let them know that there will be a lot of brainstorming and throwing ideas around, some of them will be great and stick but others won’t – it’s all part of the creative process
  • [14:05] Give yourself room to breathe to come up with ideas. Don’t expect it to come all at once
  • [15:35] Having photos in advance can be super helpful. Make sure to read over your notes from your phone consultation
  • [16:07] Make sure your consultation bag is properly stocked – notepad, graph paper, pen, paint deck, tape and laser measure, laptop, chargers, client binder, reference guides
  • [17:25] It’s a great idea to have a “client-facing” bag on the ready with all of your essentials so you don’t forget anything
  • [18:42] Don’t be afraid to pull out and use reference guides! Not only will it give you more confidence but it will also make you look professional and well-equipped 
  • [20:01] A nice touch would be to bring little goodies or gifts, such as treats if they have pets or stickers if they have kids
  • [21:34] Always take their water if they offer. There’s a theory that says that when you turn down someone’s offer for water, you’re sort of turning down their hospitality
  • [23:02] What you wear should be practical but also polished and put-together
  • [23:12] Make sure you have pockets. You’re going to be walking around the house so you want to carry a pen, your phone, a tape measure, etc. 
  • [23:48] Wear shoes that are easy to take on and off. You might not have to take off your shoes bust just in case be prepared to do that
  • [25:20] Avoid wearing a dress or a skirt. You might have to stand on a stool to reach for things, squatting on the floor, etc.
  • [27:27] What’s important is that you have a plan on how you’ll run the consultation. Make sure it’s not too open-ended because clients want you to walk them through the process
  • [27:48] Package the process for your consultation. Give it a name, outline the steps, talk about the benefits and the results people can expect. This builds trust because clients will see you have a process and by the end of it, they will know what results to expect
  • [31:04] Establish explicitly what is the clients’ reason for working with you. This will give you a better idea of how to direct the rest of the consultation
  • [31:44]  A great starting point is asking your client to walk you around and show all the spaces in the scope of work
  • [32:37] Have a note-taking sheet specifically for consultations. Organize your sheet by taking note of the item, description, trades, and next steps in neat columns
  • [35:01] Don’t rely on having Wi-Fi at a consultation. Make sure you have your local files on your desktop 
  • [37:52] Having a sales page on your website for each package that you sell goes a long way with setting expectations for the process, results, and deliverables
  • [41:11] Check in with them at the end of the consultation to make sure you’ve delivered and met their expectations – Do you feel like we achieved what we came here to do? Do you feel like it has been helpful?
  • [41:42] If they feel otherwise, consider some realistic ways to change that such as spending an extra 20 minutes, following up with another resource from your office, share photos and meeting notes
  • [42:36] The best way to wrap up is to set aside the last 15 minutes and ask them if they’re interested in moving forward together
  • [43:03] Recap all the big pictures things you’ve talked about and give them an idea of what you’ll do next 
  • [43:47] By this point, you’ll need to hone it on a number for their budget
  • [44:00] If it’s a construction project, clients really need to have a number. You can ask if they’ve met with a contractor or if they’ve done research. You also need to have some solid, fact-based numbers in case they don’t have an idea
  • [45:12] If it’s a furnishing project and they have a reasonable budget you can proceed with the concept phase. Otherwise, you can discuss further and do a budgeting exercise by itemizing everything so they get a clearer picture of all the costs
  • [51:28] If you are sure they are moving forward, you can give them their welcome package. A nice touch would be to include branded pens and post-its with it
  • [52:15] Another thing you can prepare are fill-in-the blank contracts so you can give them a proposal on the spot
  • [53:55] The next important step is to set up a follow-up sequence on your task manager. Send a feedback form they can fill out after the consultation as well
  • [55:14] There’s no one right way to do a consultation. You can customize and find out what works best for you

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