Today we will touch the topic of HAPPY customers. Our business is growing and so is the number of customers we are dealing with. The chance that we are able to satisfy all of them is unfortunately not reality but we can implement a few steps in the process to make it easier to achieve.
Our work is custom made, colors are sometimes also mixed and the finish can involve mixing or different products. Customers enter our studio with different expectations and that’s what makes it exciting for any artist, you’re not painting 20 the same pieces of furniture in the same color with the same finish.
It also makes it very important to get the thoughts and expectations from your customer clear and in most cases put them in writing, a text message, email up to a contract to be signed by both parties.
So far pretty standard and common sense…
Now we are running into the following situation;
Interior designer has a client who wants to upgrade their kitchen as the part of a large interior makeover, designer comes to our studio with all kinds of samples including swatches of colors, kitchen tiles and pictures found on the internet. We have a discussion what’s doable and come to the point that we agree to let her present it to her client.
Done, next step is to visit the house and see what’s there, state of the cabinet doors, drawers, how many sides have to be painted, kitchen island different color? Very important is to meet the client and explain the entire process, the interior designer is a professional and understands more without pointing out all details.
Most clients, and I really need to point this out, are excited and don’t hear more than they want to hear during that meeting. Make sure you go over everything, if needed go a step back and explain it using different words, till everything is clear. We make notes of everything that’s discussed and when back to the office we can go over them to make sure we all are on the same page. On a site note, we are now developing an app to be used during estimations which includes import of pictures taken during the estimation and a voice recorder to be used during the discussions.
Example; Client has a budget and we need to fit everything in that amount. We suggest them that we will make a (paid for ) sample from one of the cabinet doors we have in our studio. This will be solely to show the color and finish, it’s not representing the final result on her actual doors.
She asks why?
Answer; The actual cabinet doors you will have us paint are 10 years old, endured numerous cleanings ( or the opposite, are all greasy….) and have different structures than our sample boards. So our sample is a color sample and not used to show you the end result.
The interior designer understands this without questions but sometimes you have to explain it to the clients several times before they understand this.
Don’t forget that we are busy with van Gogh products 24/7 but that our clients aren’t!
Next is that the client tells you that she wants to do it but needs to talk to her husband, oeps our mistake, we should have asked before we set up the meeting if both of them would be able to be there so we all hear the same story.
In this case we are dealing with 3 different people who have all 3 different expectations and ideas, better to have them all at the same time in the room but not always doable.
We leave and after being back in the office calculate the work, materials etc and send out a quote with details who we are and what to expect. I always include the info that we have a liability insurance to make sure people understand that we are a professional company.
Ring, Ring…. Interior designer calls and tells us that the client wants to proceed and orders the sample, HURRAH!
While Natasha starts with the sample it’s my task to get a clear and binding contract drafted which will be signed when the client approves the color sample. I’m not afraid of adding things tailored to this client, if I feel that they are nervous about anything I will add a reassurance to the contract.
If we make several color samples we always number them and when the customer picks one we add that number to the contract, no discussion later that someone thought it would be lighter or darker.
Let’s skip a few steps in the process and go directly to the day the finished doors and drawers are delivered and installed.
We always make sure everyone is there, bring the contract and the sample of choice. Everything is installed and the client has some comments about the darkness of the color, it can be that this door is in the darker corner of the kitchen or the wood was in a worse shape than the others.
Dear client, this is all hand painted, custom made and it’s not Ikea. You can always have little differences and that’s fine. Explain that and let the interior designer give her professional opinion to. Be honest, if you made a mistake just say “Yes, you are correct, I made a mistake and will solve it, sorry for the inconvenience”.
It’s our duty and obligation as professionals who represent a beautiful brand like van Gogh to make people, within reason, happy campers showing of their kitchen to family and friends. That’s the most powerful marketing tool ever, referrals!
Client is happy, pays the balance ( we always require a substantial down payment ) and we did it, happy faces.
Now we have to make sure that we hand them over the instructions how to treat their kitchen now and in the future. Wax isn’t buffed for example, we can come back and buff it or the client can do it. Instructions will describe everything to do and more important what not to do!
This was a serious blog but I hope it will help some of you.
With love and don’t forget to have FUN!