Here's How Three Houzz Pros Work With Clients Remotely
Three professionals on Houzz share advice for maintaining an effective working relationship without meeting in person
Professional advice from: Omar Bhatti of Space Shack; Celine Erlam of Indie & Co; Heather Shaw of Resi
Regular meet-ups with your clients are great for nurturing relationships, but what if you can’t meet in person? The key is to build trust by displaying honesty.
“These are tricky times and what clients want more than anything is for you to be honest with them,” Heather Shaw says. “If you’re not sure about timings, tell them. If you think they should wait before making a decision, that’s OK, too. This level of honesty will let the client know you’re in their corner, which is absolutely key to having a good working relationship when neither of you meets face-to-face.”
“Clients don’t always understand how long some work can take and managing expectations can be tricky,” Celine Erlam adds. “I would, from the start, be honest about what’s achievable and how long it will take you.”
Working collaboratively with your client can be almost as easy online as it would be in a face-to-face meeting.
“Get homeowners involved by using tools such as Houzz Ideabooks,” Omar Bhatti says. “We like to collaborate with our clients and let them save images and comment on what we’ve saved, so we have a solid design brief to start with. This is the perfect way to ensure everyone is on the same page.”
Discover how to help a client visualise a project when you can’t meet in person
There are a number of jobs you can’t do remotely, particularly when it comes to measuring a space, so it’s important to get homeowners on board. “I’d be very clear with the client about how much involvement would be required from them,” Celine says. “For example, taking measurements, taking pictures, and being present for trades and deliveries.”
“Clients can be super busy, so it’s important to respect their time, but this can cause a delay if they’re not so responsive,” Omar says. “The best way to overcome this is to plan ahead and give them some deadlines to work towards.”
“Keep your clients interested and motivated, [and confident] that their project is in good hands, by regularly checking in with them via phone calls, emails and even FaceTime or Zoom calls,” Omar says.
“Communication is everything,” Heather agrees. “When a new message pings in, it’s easy to think you’ll pick it up when the work is done or you have the answers. However, even just a simple, ‘I’ll get right on this!’ message can go a long way to making people feel you care.
“We’re encouraging all our staff to leave no message unanswered and to regularly update clients on our progress, even if said progress is slow due to current circumstances,” she adds.
Pick a communication channel that works best for you, however. “I would recommend avoiding using instant messaging services to communicate with clients, as important pieces of information can be very hard to trace back,” Celine suggests.
Without regular contact, you might be wondering how to keep your clients motivated, but it helps to get creative. “Why not offer them something slightly different to your usual design procedures – for example, a slideshow or animations?” Omar suggests.
“If you’re not going to be able to meet with them for the entire design process, you’ll need to plan how to send across samples,” he adds. “Try packaging these up in a stylish way to keep your clients excited about their project. This is key to keeping them motivated and intrigued!”
What have you found helpful when working remotely with clients? Share your tips in the Comments section.