Interior Decorating Consultation Kit
One of the very first things you’ll do with a new decorating client is conduct a consultation! This meeting is beneficial for both you and the client, because it gives each of you a chance to discuss details and see whether working together is a good fit. Because this meeting is such an important step, you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared when you arrive!
What is a Consultation?
An interior decorating consultation is a meeting with a client about a potential new contract. You will visit the space you’ll be working with and discuss the details of what they want you to do. This meeting is a chance for them to ask you questions about pricing, tell you what their expectations are, and speak to you about their budget. For you, the meeting is an opportunity to see the space, get the full details of the job, and make sure that you can price properly for the amount of work that contract would require.
Why is a Consultation so Important?
Conducting an interior decorating consultation allows both you and the client to decide whether entering a contract together is the best option. The client might decide that the estimated price for your services is too high and they’re not ready to commit. You, as the interior decorator, might decide that the amount of work you’re seeing is beyond your scope or that the client doesn’t seem serious about their interest in your services. The consultation is your chance to predict any difficulties this potential contract might involve and prepare for those, both mentally and in terms of pricing. Essentially, this meeting saves both you and the client from moving forward with a contract that isn’t the in the best interests of one or both parties, which can save you both time and money!
What Do You Need?
Coming prepared to your consultation is a sign of professionalism. Your client will be very impressed and much more open to working with you if you arrive with all of the necessary materials ready! You will also feel more confident analyzing the space and providing the client with an estimate if you have everything you need on hand. If you forget things and arrive unprepared, the client might feel as though their time has been wasted, and you might lose that contract. To avoid this, make sure you have the following things!
Your pricing rates:
Consultations are meeting, and usually paid ones at that. You are still performing a service for that person, even though you haven’t signed a contract yet. You should discuss your pricing with the client before you meet. At the very least, give him a ballpark idea of the cost for the job he’s requesting. You should also bring your pricing rates and information with you to the consultation. This way, you can walk him through the process of calculating your estimate for the contract, so he can see what the total cost would be, how you determined it, and what services he’d receive at that rate. Whether you’re charging a flat rate, an hourly fee, or using another pricing method, being prepared to openly discuss pricing lets the client feel comfortable with your professional approach to finances.
You might be interested in this article: Should I charge for a Design Consultation?
Your consultation report:
Many interior decorators have a standard report that they use for each consultation. You can create a report template that you can print and bring with you to make notes and refer to as you go. Saving a report template to an electronic device, like a phone or tablet, is also an option. If you can fill the report out electronically on the spot, you can email a copy to the client as soon as it’s finished. Your report should include a detailed list of tasks that you think need to be completed in the space. If you want, you can also bring a list of contact information for different companies that you recommend for the different services listed in your report.
Color and material swatches:
Bringing paint color and material swatches to an interior decorating consultation allows you to get an idea of what the client is looking for before you actually commit to the contract. Of course, you won’t sit down and plan the entire room in detail on your first meeting, but having a few tools to help the client express the basics of what they have in mind can be helpful for both of you!
A pen or pencil:
It might seem like common sense to bring a pen or pencil, but reminders never hurt! Being prepared with the simple things is still important!
Keeping track of the time during your consultation is essential, especially if you’re charging at an hourly rate! Bring a watch (or any device that tells the time) so that you can keep an eye on how long you’ve been working. If you think you might go over your estimated time, tell them why. Perhaps part of the space will need a lot more work that you anticipated. Let them choose whether they want to pay for extra time to let you finish, or stop at the agreed upon time and just work with the recommendations you’ve made so far. Once again, coming prepared with something as simple as a clock shows professionalism. The client will appreciate that you respect their time.
A measuring tape:
Bringing a measuring tape to your consultation lets you record dimensions and measure spaces where you see fit. Rather than relying on estimates or other people’s measurements, you can take down the details you feel are necessary to estimating what services are needed, and for what price. Some planners choose to charge for their services by square footage, so bringing a measuring tape is especially important if this is your chosen pricing method!
Prepare the tools that you’ll need for your interior decorating consultation in advance, so that you have time to check your kit over before you go! You will feel more comfortable and confident when you arrive if you know that you have everything you need. Your client will also appreciate your readiness. The more professional you are, the more likely they are to want to work with you!
Want to Know What Comes Next?
If you’re interested in learning about what comes after a consultation, check out our Interior Decorating Course! Are you more interested in other areas of design? Take a look at the different design courses that QC Design School has to offer!