“Hallo I am one of your followers and biggest fan….. but today I need your help desperately…. I am painting this showcase for a client and I just can’t get the feeling for this lady. Can you PLEASE give me any suggestions. I would so much appreciate it!!” – Maron from South Africa
First of all, I love so desperately that my readers come from all over the world. It is so exciting to image my virtual friends painting and creating in their own cities.
I have zero idea what the style of furniture is in South Africa not to mention the type of person that wants painted furniture. I do, however, know what it’s like to work with many different types of people. Here are a few tips when working for a client – someone that you have never met before and know nothing about!
- I know it sounds cliche, but I always try to be myself. This may mean me answering the door in my bathrobe on a Saturday morning. It also may mean that my kids want to say hello and buzz around us while we are talking.
- Smile. Even if you are exhausted or cranky smile and be cherry. Clients are trusting you with their special pieces and plan to put your work into their home. Be pleasant and smile.
- Trust. Walk through the process with your client. Make sure they understand what you will be doing to achieve the look they want. If they seem concerned then follow up via email.
- Photos. I also email several photos of the finish piece before pick up so that they can tell me if it is what they expected and want. If there are changes to be made then they can tell you then before they come out to pick up. It will save everyone time and energy.
- Manage expectations. If for some reason you are not able to give your client the look that they want then say so! Don’t be scared. You want to manage their expectations and do not promise anything that you cannot deliver. If you are hesitant that you can provide the look they want then “doubt means don’t”. Don’t take it on. Just tell the client what you are capable of and let them decide what they want to do.
- Chemistry. There is something to be said about good will and chemistry between client and designer. Sometimes you will encounter kindred spirits and it’s just a lovely experience for both parties. Other times you have to crack the shell of the client a bit and work to earn their trust. And, unfortunately, there are also those clients that are just suffering in their own worlds and are not able to be pleasant. This is when you get to decide if you want to invest time in their pieces. Most of my clients come to me with an appreciation for what I can give them and are amazingly trusting and wonderful. When I started out, however, I had to learn that every so often there is a bad apple that comes through the door and I can smell them a mile away. I have learned that it has nothing to do with me, but it has to do with how this person goes through life. Some people are just no happy. If you can handle this, then just look at it as a business transaction. I am much more emotional about my work so it really depends for me.
So, Sweet Maron from South Africa, if it were me and I was confident that I could give her the look she wanted then I would keep communicating with her. Email her during your process. Check in. If you feel like she is being hesitant then just reassure her. Be upfront as to what you can give her. If you are not able to crack a smile then know that as humans we all have trouble and maybe she cannot see past her. Look at it as a business transaction. If this seems phoney for you then it is a lesson that you know what kind of client that you are able to handle. It is definitely a 2-way street when providing a service like this. At least that is how I choose to see my business.