Homeowners have challenges. Designers have solutions. So why aren’t more homeowners turning to designers for help with their renovation, remodeling and decorating needs?
Cost is a factor for some, but it is not the deciding one in many cases. Often the decision comes down to service, whether the prospective client views you as the answer to their prayers or another provider they have to manage.
Of the 260,000 homeowners who responded to the 2015 Houzz & Home survey, 84 percent hired at least one professional or specialty service (e.g., plumber, electrician or painter) last year to help with a home renovation project. Among the half that engaged a professional, 12 percent hired an interior designer, 7 percent a kitchen and bath designer and 6 percent a design-build firm.
Homeowners are more likely to seek professional help for larger, more expensive projects, such as high-end kitchen and bath remodels. Use of professionals is much higher for custom home constructions: 25 percent used an interior designer, 20 percent a kitchen and bath designer and 27 percent a design-build firm.
Clearly, cost, complexity and the quality of the finished result matter when deciding to hire a professional. Age is another factor. Older homeowners (ages 55 and older) are much more likely to rely on the advice of a pro than homeowners under age 45.
When it comes to selecting a professional, the picture starts to shift. Less than one-third of respondents who had hired a professional last year said that lowest cost was a major consideration in their decision. Older homeowners were much less likely to base their decision on cost. Online reviews and recommendations had the greatest impact (83 percent) on hiring decisions, followed by experience with a similar project (59 percent) and experience with a similar style (38 percent).
And what do prospective clients find when they go online to check reviews and recommendations? Clients frequently give designers kudos for their design skills, but comments most often focus on the designer’s professionalism, responsiveness and interpersonal skills.
Nearly half of the respondents in the Houzz survey considered the provider’s communication/organization skills in choosing whom to hire, and one-third the provider’s personality. One reviewer recommended a designer for the ability of “connecting with clients,” and many others praise designers who “understand” their needs and wishes.
Personal service and communication also get frequent mentions. Designers who have a “light touch” in providing advice are often contrasted with those who are seen as “pushy” or pressure salespeople.
Reading between the lines of these and other comments, it’s apparent that prospective clients warm to professionals who focus on smoothing out the wrinkles in the renovation or remodeling process. One reviewer stated she was “overwhelmed” by all the choices she would have to make, and another who first went the DIY route commented he was “surprised by how difficult” it was just to choose paint colors.
Respondents in the Houzz survey said they were most challenged by determining a budget, scheduling, selecting products and materials, deciding on a style, and managing providers — all services designers provide. But the key is not just to offer the service, it is to make the process of engaging that service simple and stress-free for the client.
First, be of service, and you will open the door to selling more of your services.
About the Author
Michael J. Berens is a freelance researcher and writer with more than 30 years of experience in association communication and management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was provide by Multibriefs.