Posts Tagged ‘client’

Are You Listening?

Posted by

Have you ever gone to a party and found yourself drawn to person you’ve never met before, who seemed to be completely interested in you and everything you had to say? It’s like finding a new best friend, someone you seem to click with right away. That person usually only did one simple thing that made you feel special – they listened to you.

Listening seems to be a dying art. In today’s world of social media, oversharing, and selfies, we may be turning into people who want to showcase ourselves, but never really invest the time in learning about others. That can hurt us in our personal lives and in our professional careers. And if you’re want to turn things around in your business, this is one of the simplest things you can do that I promise will pay off. LISTEN.

As an extrovert myself, that’s something I definitely had to work on in my own life and career. Early in my design business, I had so many ideas and thoughts that I wanted to share them immediately with my clients, without actually giving them the space and time to tell me what they wanted and needed. I once even had a client say, “Are you listening to me?” before I actually slowed down and thought about how this was impacting me and my business. Now with 17 years of experience, I’ve learned to ask a lot of questions and to really and truly listen to what the other person is saying. It’s made a huge difference in my design work, and in my business as a whole. Who am I kidding – it’s helped my personal life, too!

It’s critical to focus on what another person is telling us. It does more than just make them feel important – you can learn so much about the other person and what they need. But you are also giving them a great customer service experience that will improve your bottom line. After all, according to Jonah Berger in his book Contagious, when people talk about themselves and are given the opportunity to share opinions, it activates their brains like a reward does, like when they are given food or money. And all of those chemicals that make them feel good are giving them a really good feeling about YOU.

Remember though, you can’t sit there thinking about what you’re going to say next while you’re supposedly listening to that other person. You have to really hear them, take in everything they are actually saying, as well as their body language and non-verbal cues. You want to lean in, to ask questions at the appropriate time, and to give them the spotlight that they want and deserve. Imagine what a different world we might have today if we spent more time focusing on someone else rather than taking yet another selfie.

Instead of being selfish with your time and attention, learn to give it away freely and openly. It will make you a better person, a better customer service provider, and a much more effective businessperson!

What do think of this simple but radical idea? Let me know in the comments section below. I’m listening!







3 Ways to Build Future Business

Posted by


As small business owners, sometimes we get caught up in the day-to-day running of the business and we forget to look forward and plan for the future. There are just too many things to do and not enough hours in the day. But if you’ve ever gotten a knot in your stomach when you think about your future income and where it’s going to come from, that’s where business development comes in.

We all as designers get so excited when we’re working with a current client – it’s fun and it’s making money for our business! But we tend to forget that once a project ends, the money ends, too. And we can be left with bills to pay and no income coming in. That’s why this is so important to your business. You have to look FAR into the future, past any current clients that are keeping you busy and putting money in your bank account in the short term.


Business development is completely different from sales, though. It’s the process and strategy that you have in place to produce long-term growth and profitability. So here are my tips for getting your business development plan in place:

1.  Think quantity over quality. You want to send out hundreds and hundreds of hooks to try to catch fish, so to speak. Once they’re on land you can decide if you want to keep them or you want to throw them back. It’s the person who has many poles in the water that’s going to catch the most fish – that’s just logic. I once sent 100 emails in a month to prospective clients, asking if we could meet for lunch. And out of that outreach, I got 10 solid clients! It’s worth the effort, but you have to reach out. Your first outreach should be to your easiest targets. That would be your best former clients and prospective clients who never took the bait the first time around. So reach out to the people closest to you who may know (or may be) that great new client!

2. Look for partners. The next group to reach out to would be those businesses who have the clients that you want – it be could a realtor, builders, or maybe even luxury spa or jewelry store owners. Don’t just think about the obvious people like contractors – although they are a perfect resource for you. I want you to also think outside of the home arena. My one word of warning, though, is that you have to reach out with the idea of how YOU can help THEM. Let me say that again – how can YOU help THEM? It will never work for you if you are constantly showing up with your hand out and asking for something. Imagine how you would react to that from a prospective partner. You want to be sure there is a win-win for both of you so that you both benefit.


3. Build relationships. Remember, none of this is meant to be a “hard sell.” A big bulk of your outreach should be emails that just check in with the person. Ask how they are, what’s going on in their lives. Send gifts that you think they will like. Ask them to lunch and do not discuss business. Why? Because you are building relationships. You are creating goodwill between the two of you, and you are looking long-term. And you are going to do this without any expectation of a payoff for you. I really mean that! You have to say to yourself that this is just the cost of doing business. That whatever you spend on gifts or materials is going to be done without getting emotional if the other person doesn’t immediately hire you or give you their entire client list!

And you have to remember that it could take a long time before you see any concrete results. You may court a client, a builder, or a partner for months, even years, before it pays off. That’s why business development is a long-term strategy, because if you make it a part of your normal work week, just sending a few emails and having a few lunches, it will bring you business in a much more consistent way!

So get off that income roller coaster! Instead enjoy smooth sailing by building business for your future!








10 Tips for Winning Over that Skeptical Client

Posted by


We’ve all been there – we have a great client “on the hook” but they just won’t commit. It can be so frustrating, especially when you’ve practically designed their entire house in your head and you’re ready to jump in! So what’s a creative to do in this situation?

I have 10 tips that will help you move that client right off the fence and into your “current client” category! Try these to hone your art of persuasion:

1. Take it face-to-face. Often in this digital age, we’re talking to clients via email, text, and phone rather than sitting down together for a meeting. We use the excuse that everyone is too busy and that taking care of it all online streamlines everything. But what that also does is keep you from establishing rapport with that potential client, and that’s not good. So if you have a client that’s wavering, have a meeting where you can sit down and just talk!

2. Don’t make it personal. First, don’t let your emotions get in the way. If you’re pushing too hard, some people will naturally back away. I know you’re excited, but don’t let that overwhelm the situation. And on the other side of the coin, don’t get angry or frustrated because they aren’t saying “yes” right away. People can always sense that frustration.


3. Be strong. Okay, let me clarify: I do NOT mean that you should strong arm them! What I mean by this is don’t cave on your pricing structure or bend your own rules and procedures because you’re caught up in the moment of trying to get them to sign your contract. That’s not going to work out for you in the long run.

4. Show your knowledge – and confidence. There is one reason that people are seeking you out – you have knowledge and skills that they don’t. So be sure that you’re showing your confidence in your abilities. That confidence will make them trust you and your ideas.

5. Draw them out. See if you can get to the heart of their hesitation. What do they really want that they aren’t telling you? Do they need more time to decide? Are they feeling overwhelmed? Ask them how they are feeling about what you’ve presented, and tell them that you love feedback.

6. Listen. People can give you feedback, but it’s no good if you don’t actually listen to it. Be sure that you are really hearing what that person has to say and what they really want. Sometimes the very information you need to finish the sale is in what they’re saying – and not saying.


7. Use a little humor. This is always a really stressful time for people. Even if they have a lot of money, it’s hard for some people to commit to giving you thousands of dollars. And then you add to it the fact that it’s about their home, their most intimate spaces, and the emotion goes up 1000%. So try using a little humor to break the tension – but only a little.

8. Be committed. You have to commit to making the sale. What I mean by that is that this can also be emotional for YOU – and a real confidence sapper. So instead of following up with meetings and questions, you may avoid the hard work of getting to the heart of why the person is hesitating. But you have to commit to seeing it through. Go back and look at #2 – it isn’t personal.

9. Show you care. Everyone loves gifts, right? So be sure you’re giving something thoughtful and heartfelt to the potential client. Maybe for a meeting in their home, you could take a set of books for their child, or a basket of dog toys for their pet. Show that this is the type of fantastic client experience that they will have through the whole process with you.

10. Prove that it’s smart decision for them. This is really the big one. You want to show them how you will save them time, money, and headaches – and you’ll produce their dream home for them, too! Give them the facts and figures they may need to see why going with you is a smart idea. And of course, don’t let it just be about your fees because you never win when you play that game. It has to be about your expertise, your knowledge, and your contacts that will save them money in the long run – not a savings on your fees.

So what do you think of these tips? Do you think you can use them to get that ideal client into your pipeline? Let me know in the comments section below!








Tobi TV: Remodel Solutions

Posted by


Most of my projects are remodels rather than new construction – hard to believe, right? But I don’t think you have to start from scratch to get the home of your dreams. In fact, I love to take my clients’ problems and find the perfect solution for them!

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 3.48.17 PM

In a recent project, my client had a small and chopped-up layout for the master bath, and it just wasn’t working. So how did I fix that for them? Let’s take a look:

Now that’s a room that makes my clients feel like they’re in a luxury spa every time they step inside! Let’s take a look again at what we did:

1. Function is so key – you need to decide how you want the room to work for YOU. In this space, I removed an office nearby to use the space for the master bathroom.

2. The bathroom before was so dark and cramped, so I wrapped the room in layers of white to give it a beautiful and serene design.

3. This room really has all the amenities my client wanted – like his-and-her vanities, a seated makeup area, and a walk-in shower.

4. To create cohesion from one room to the next, I added touches of blue that can be found in the nearby master bedroom.

See? You can create your perfect home without even moving! What would be the first room you would change in your current home? Let me know in the comments below!