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First Client meeting

4 October 2018

First Client meeting

The most important stage for a designer is the initial Client meeting, it not only determines whether you win the business, but it sets the tone and pace of the rest of the project. Bagging the first client meeting is always like an achievement for a new startup interior designer, and the designer wants the best outcome to derive from the meeting. The primary goal of this meeting is to connect with the client and understand if you would be able to meet the project requirements well.

A few tips to learn while preparing for a meeting:

  • Preparation is the key: Always do your homework so that the meeting goes off smoothly. Write down a list of questions that you would like to ask the client. Pen down everything you feel is essential to ask and not miss out on anything. Take your portfolio to the meeting; few references images try to understand the client's style and preferences that they mention.
  • Things to carry for Meeting: Checklist for items to be carried for the first meeting. Notepad / iPad and Pen to take down notes, camera to take pictures of the space, measuring tape to take minor measurements or in case you need to check sizes, design or company portfolio and few design magazines for references.
  • Go with an Agenda: The meeting has to be based on an agenda and how you envision it to proceed. Think about all the information you need to get out of the entire meeting. Also if the meeting is on the project site, carefully evaluate and observe the surrounding and jot down notes. The more information you get from the client, the better.
  • Take Notes: The main aspect of meetings is to listen to the client and speak. Notes help to remember every minute details discussed in the meeting and helps recap at the end. The clients also feel content that you value their say and ideas. In case you miss on things you can always recap your conversation by the points and note down the lost points.
  • Pitch Yourself: Once you start understanding the project and the client brief, begin to speak about your concept, solutions or try giving examples of your previous projects. Tailor your pitch to the project by suggesting them additional complimentary services. Let them know your value add to the project.
  • Budget & Schedules: While the first meeting is not the best time to speak about budget specifics, but it is good to get a general idea on the budget the client would spend on the project. Some like to talk about budgets face to face, some discuss it on emails once the project is locked. You can also inquire about the timeline the client is looking for the delivery of the project, like this, you can also judge if it is possible to complete the same.
  • Things to Avoid in the meeting: Do not speak about the scope of work as it is too early to judge the scope of work the client would finalize with you or hire different contractors. Avoid mentioning the total project cost, as it is always difficult to assume the costing this early. Total project cost involves a lot of factors to be considered before pitching in. If the brief were shared earlier, still would recommend not to share the layout plans with the clients before mutual contracts are signed. Fees it would be good if you do not give it away in the first meeting itself, you can always take your time to calculate the time you give the project, the drawing sets to be provided, site visits, etc. You can request the client for a day to revert on the same.
  • Summary of the meeting: Post the meeting, it is always good to update the client with the takeaways from the meeting and things to look forward too. At this time the notes taken during the meeting always prove to be beneficial; also this indicates the client your professionalism and commitment to the project. Summary emails also prove as a reminder about yourself to the client.

Finally, I would like to mention that be ready if you get a negative reply or to consider your fees, or in case they never get back to you at all. Many people at times have no intention to go ahead or want rough ideas of the project. Your instinct to identify such clients will improve in the long run.

If everything goes according to plan, further dialogues and project can begin. Good Luck!