Today I’m talking about consultations and how to run them so that both you and your client get the most out of your time together.
I’ve had quite a few questions about how I run consultations within my community and so there is it, I’m sharing what I do to prepare, how I used to run my consultations, how I do it now, and some tips on how to convert a consultation into a full paying gig.
In this episode, I talk about how I didn’t charge for my consultations when I started my business. It wasn’t because I didn’t value my time but because the person I worked for before didn’t charge for theirs. I just thought that since they were experienced and not charging for consultations, that was just the best way to do it too. But what I didn’t realize at the time was the importance of that designer’s experience. He didn’t charge for consultations because almost every lead he had would turn into a full project job – That was the caliber of client and level of experience he was at, not me.
I quickly learned, that if I don’t charge for my consultations, my time and expertise as a designer were not as valued and I was not attracting the right type of client that could actually afford my services. I then shifted my mindset and started running my business as a business. The first thing you should do when you shift into this mindset is to charge the right value for consultations. (Obviously, every city and town is different, but the point is that you’ve got to charge!)
After a few years, I realized that it was time for another change. I was doing too many consultations at a relatively inexpensive fee and not many of those turned into full-fledged projects (which is obviously the goal when running a design business). After reassessing, I nervously increased my consultation to be a more premium fee, and guess what, I got fewer consultations… But more full-paying design jobs! Raising my rates for my time, knowledge and expertise attracted my ideal client, a higher caliber client that could afford my services and beautiful designs through to the end.
Through the episode, I share other lessons and tidbits I’ve learned about consultations such as:
- Get a scheduler – this will save you or your team from having back and forth conversations about dates and times for booking consultations
- Arrive prepared and ready to reiterate your messaging using multiple mediums
- Set expectations for your clients early and often – This is essential throughout the duration that you are working with a client. Talk timelines, budgets, and when you’re taking on new projects.
- Listening is the most important thing you can do at a consultation, then come the ideas
- Connect with your client based on what you see around their home – Show them you’re human and fund a common element so that you can make a personal connection
- Show proof of the value you are bringing them and the possible problems that you will find solutions for – Use past magazine publications, client reviews, past or ongoing project images with a story
One of the biggest game-changers in my business that completely altered the consultation experience I provide was the implementation of a pre-qualifying call, which I call a Discovery Call after the lead reaches out. Having a phone call before a consultation is booked is vital because you get to learn about the project, you can set expectations in terms of money and timeline, and one of the most important things, you find out if you’re right for each other. It all starts with this casual short conversation. (You can get my Discovery Call Script at rebeccahay.com/discoverycall)
Lastly, I share some tips on the best ways to convert a consultation into a full project job. I have found that reassuring them that you know what you are doing simply by having a clear-cut process, helps to establish trust even as a newbie designer. The more you educate people on your process, on your role, and with all of the knowledge that you have, the easier it’ll be to convert that consultation into a full client.
Download my free consultation checklist at rebeccahay.com/consultationchecklist