The principals of each firm should change their business practices, allowing them to meet and greet each client their staff is serving. They should have a cohesive team delivering on the firm’s vision, not a loose confederation of individual entrepreneurs dealing with each client as they see fit.
We are going to be dealing with a younger clientele who have money, but no time. Mislabeled as trailing-edge Baby Boomers, they are a high-powered, family-oriented buying group, age 45 to 55. Recently called the realistically minded Generation Jones, they do not trust easily, expect a deal and think they can solve any dilemma by searching the Web or blogging.
However, once you have their attention by proving you know what you are doing with directness and professionalism, you become the “value added” for the sale. Don’t assume great service will sell the project. People expect it today. Beyond great service is the value of your knowledge. You are the brand, not the products you represent.
Here’s what trend watcher Faith Popcorn said about this change, “Now that everyone’s a Web-based know-it-all, we are secretly longing for the authority figures to guide and assure us with the indispensable nuggets of wisdom that can only come from having actually accumulated life experience.”
Because ultra high-end clients are afraid of “new people,” you need to get much smarter about staying in touch with your existing client base and searching out new targeted consumers. Stop waiting to see who comes through the showroom door. Start your own “rewards program.” A change in the luxury industry is that clients like to know we appreciate their business. First and foremost, take this time to create a proper database of past clients.
Increasingly, luxury clients have “their people.” In some cases these folks are gatekeepers, production/project managers or financial watch-dogs. Make them look good.
While making sure their “nest” is feathered to reflect their lifestyle, these clients also faithfully follow the selections recommended by their architect or interior designer. Whether we like it or not, it is in our best interest to develop a strong relationship with these allied design professionals.
When it comes to collaborative relationships, reinvent yourself into a business person in the design profession, rather than a design- focused artisan.