KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Sep 15 2010

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Are you selling yourself short?

As an industry, we keep forgetting the general public doesn’t know as much about our business as both we and they think they do. The media supplies them with construction jargon, so that they converse very knowledgeably about landing spaces and work areas, but almost all of us have stories about discovering gaps in that knowledge well after the project has started.

A few years ago, I read an invaluable article by the futurist Faith Popcorn. (She’s the one who accurately predicted cocooning.) I’m horrible at exact wording, but the gist of it was: No matter how vast the Internet is, or how knowledgeable people are, they’re secretly hoping you’ll have more knowledge and experience than they do.

Now I know some pros who give clients whatever they want. I also know some who take over completely. But as we transition to the next generation, those days are coming to a close. This next generation of homeowners (and a growing portion of this generation) wants to be part of the team. While they enjoy getting the information they want from the media, according to Faith, they secretly fear they’re only getting part of it. Judging by the tales of woe in consumer forums, they are.

If we’re going to welcome them on board, we have to provide the answers that allow them to make informed decisions. That also means putting ourselves in their shoes–Do they know we make two trips for recycling during the demolition process? Do they actually know that granite has a grading system and the poorer the granite, the more inclusions and fissures? Do they know that 100W light bulbs will be phased out in 2012?

We know more than we think we do.

I’m not saying you have to be a show-off, or you should overwhelm them with your knowledge. Clients who have been embarrassed or made to feel they’ve asked silly questions are non-clients. I’m saying, re-ask the above questions: Do you know how we try to be environmentally friendly? Would you like a crash course in granite since you’re interested in it for your own home? Would you like to know some of the key changes coming to home design?

Don’t be put off by the client who seems to know it all. Find the knowledge they need but didn’t know they were looking for, and you’ll set yourself apart with a lot of work over the next decade.

Until next time,


This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Business, Inspiration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.