Let's explore how learning about different personality types can benefit your design business!
It’s a running joke in the world of architecture - and particularly, the world of residential design and architecture - that we are part designer and part therapist.
Our ability to “read” and sometimes even referee our clients is a crucial skill that can greatly enhance our success as a designer. When we dive deep into their personal preferences, lifestyles, goals, priorities, and aspirations, we gain valuable insights that can help us tell their individual stories through the homes we design for them.
In this blog post, we are exploring four aspects of the profound value “reading” our unique clients can have, both in our businesses and in the relationships we build with our clients.
1. Building a Relationship of Trust
Just as in building a home, a solid foundation is key to a strong and sturdy home. So it is with the relationships we develop and build, over time, with our clients.
By putting forth the effort to truly understand how our clients operate, think, and possibly even feel, we can establish a solid foundation of trust, respect, and open communication.
Going deep with our clients helps us to be better equipped to empathize with their vision. Even if we have never personally felt the need to have a two-island kitchen, for example, once we know that the homeowner loves to host large dinner parties, we can appreciate the request anew.
When we prioritize THEIR needs and wishes over our preconceived design ideals, we demonstrate to our clients that this design experience is more than a mere business transaction.
We prove that the design will reflect their personalized goals and priorities.
A trust-bond is formed.
Satisfied clients are created.
Sometimes, we even get lucky enough to claim our clients as new, lifelong friends, as well.
(HINT: Thrilled and delighted clients love to share with others about the amazing experience they had working with you - feeding that referral pipeline.)
2. Tailoring the Home Design to the Individual Homeowner(s)
With every client comes a new set of requirements, preferences, and individual tastes. The great challenge we, as residential designers, regularly encounter is the very personal nature of the work we perform.
After all, our clients will (hope to) be living out their best lives in said home.
Sometimes, however, the two parties don’t always see eye-to-eye on the design goals and solutions.
As the design professional, it can be critical to know how to read the unspoken family dynamics:
Who’s the more dominant voice?
Who has a stronger opinion?
Can a happy middle ground be found?
How can differing hobbies and habits and interests all be fully supported?
A deep understanding of the clients and how they play off of or work with each other can be key to proactively incorporating the necessary design elements that will enhance their daily lives.
By understanding the dynamics of the client relationships with each other and designing to solve for both congruent and opposing design goals, we demonstrate our deep attention to the details which then reinforces our commitment to the clients’ overall satisfaction.
3. Effective Communication for Enhanced Collaboration
Extracting the information needed to design a cohesive home is challenging enough as it is.
Extracting the RIGHT information is even more challenging.
Add to both of those, the imperative need for clearly communicating edits and revisions and factors affecting the design solutions, and we designers clearly have our work cut out for us.
The following methods are simple strategies I currently use (but I’m ALWAYS looking for areas to improve!) to get the best, correct information from my clients AND to effectively discuss the design throughout the design development process:
Have a clear system (complete with client instructions, if necessary) for HOW the homeowners can share their vision of their new home with me, as the design professional
Outline clear parameters on what information will be pertinent to an effective and efficient design process
Guide clients on the design inspiration process - help them understand how to refine their goals and style expectations
Remove as many pronouns as possible in written (and spoken, if possible) communication to reduce the “personal” ownership of problems or challenges (this one can be a bit tricky - and difficult to explain)
4. Providing Expert Feedback and Guidance
In most cases, we are being hired for our expert skills as a residential designer. We have the skills, knowledge and experience that the homeowner or client doesn’t have.
We bring our creative insights to the table.
This allows us to provide valuable feedback and professional guidance throughout the design process. It is our job to steer the design toward better alignment with the homeowners’ goals and in a way that can enhance both the functionality and the aesthetics of the home.
By providing our knowledge, experience, and expert insights, we can help the homeowner make better-informed decisions.
As Dave Ramsey likes to say, we should have the heart of a teacher.
By sharing our understanding of the principles and elements of design, material options, and spatial considerations, we empower clients to make their choices based on good information and practical solutions.
For example, when a client insists that they do not need “that many stairs” in the home, you can politely inform and educate them on the code requirements and the human dimensions of good stair design. There is no need to argue the point. A little bit of compassionate explanation can go a long way.
Some homeowners may have overly-ambitious visions that don’t align with their higher priority of staying within their set budget, time constraints, or the buildable area. By understanding how our clients operate, we can navigate these conversations with empathy and clarity.
We can provide realistic assessments for them and then propose acceptable alternative solutions that strike a balance between the “grand visions” and the practical constraints.
This collaborative approach ensures that clients feel supported, informed, educated, and confident in the decisions they are making.
So, in a nutshell...
A quality design experience is centered around good communication. We can, and should, target these four areas for better communication with our clients:
Build a Relationship of Trust
Tailor the Design to the Individual Client(s)
Effective Communication for Enhanced Collaboration
Provide Expert Feedback and Professional Guidance
Some benefits to our businesses that can result from improved communication skills and techniques may include:
Increased client satisfaction
Improved design efficiency
Stronger professional relationships
Expanded skill set
Filling the ‘referral pipeline’ (improving the organic word-of-mouth marketing outreach).
The value of “reading” different clients and understanding HOW they operate is a massive benefit to our design businesses. The importance cannot be overstated.
Incorporating these four basic areas of quality communication in our design processes can elevate our design practices to new heights.
We should gladly embrace the opportunity to connect deeply with our clients, exceed their expectations, and create homes that are truly reflections of their dreams, desires, hopes, and aspirations.
Looking for more resources and/or support in your home design work? Drop a comment below with your burning questions or feel free to follow us on your favorite social media channel (we’re on IG, FB, and LinkedIn) @domanihomedesign.
Interested in designing dream homes for dream clients? Learn more at www.squarefootsuperhero.com or @squarefootsuperhero on IG, FB, Pinterest, and YouTube.