Sometimes the best way to educate yourself is to ask questions. We wanted to know what you and your clients are talking about, so we asked you. We posted a poll on our website last month which asked the simple question, “What are customers interested in?” This is what you said: Future work – 46 percent; No one’s calling/talking to us – 28 percent; Killing time/Just looking – 15 percent; Starting work today – 11 percent.

The results as I see them are mixed. The best news is a total of 72 percent of you are actually talking to clients, even if it’s for future work or they’re just killing time. More good news is about half the clients you’re talking to (46 percent) are interested in doing business with you. Yes, you’re discussing future work, but it’s work.

There’s only one way to look at these results, and that’s through a glass that’s half full. The way I see it, every conversation is an opportunity to sell. So maybe the clients you’re talking to don’t want to break ground any time soon, but at least you’re talking. Sometimes finding someone to have a conversation with can be the biggest challenge.

Do you sense that a new home is what your clients want but can’t afford? Have you offered to provide design-only services? If they don’t have money for construction, maybe they have enough to get a set of drawings done. Can you scale back their project and still deliver their dream?

Have you asked if you can provide remodeling work as an alternative to a new home? What about a detached structure? Do they need a pool house? A tool shed? A dog house? A playhouse for their children? Can you offer outdoor living design assistance? A place for them to store their boat, jet ski or 4-wheeler? Think of projects you don’t typically tackle.

Have you considered throwing a party for the clients you’re talking to and their friends you haven’t met? It would be an opportunity to network. Invite current and past clients. Tell them to bring friends or family who might be interested in design, remodeling or new construction work. Ask each of them to bring two or three people to the party and you just tripled or quadrupled your client network. Plus, think about how many people they’ll talk to the next day.
We cohosted such an event with a builder in June for more than 100 people. Talk about a room filled with opportunities. It was an effective way for the builder to surround himself with colleagues and potential clients. See for yourself how the event turned out by visiting rdbmagazine.com/margarido.

The opportunity to impress is out there. Take it.

2009 Design Excellence Awards

Speaking of impressing people, once again we are proud and excited to present you with the winners of our 2009 Design Excellence Awards. The competition was as tough as ever, and this year’s class of wining projects stands up to the best from previous years.

Be inspired by this year’s winners. Read about the challenges faced by your fellow designers and builders, and how these challenges were overcome. See 2009 Design Excellence Awards