How To Maximize Repeat Business

Article by Ad Pro

By American DownFeather - January 23, 2023

As we start out anew in 2023, we’d like to thank all of our repeat customers that continually support AD&F.  We pride ourselves on “Customer Service” and being “available” for our clients.  Whether it’s a quick question on the order you have or helping you decide on what it is you need, we are here to “fill” your designer needs.  With that in mind, we are sharing an article below from AD PRO that we hope you enjoy!

4 Strategies Designers Swear By for Landing Repeat Customers
AD PRO asks experts: What’s the best way to maximize repeat business?
By Kyle Hoepner

Some design advice topics lend themselves reasonably well to a “tips and tricks” format. But when it comes to the question of reliably pulling in repeat customers, even the briefest conversation with an interiors professional makes it clear that no bullet-point list of do’s and don’ts will substitute for the old-fashioned investment of time, thought, and hard work. Engaging fully as both a designer and a communicator is, in the long run, what it will take.
Focus on Your Client’s Experience
For Los Angeles designer Jeff Andrews, each first-time job with a new client is “like a first date: there’s a lot of testing the waters.” It may seem obvious, but the early stages of any association have an outsize impact on its potential longevity. For this reason, Andrews says, “cultivating a relationship with a client during your first project together is always quite a task—almost as important as the design itself.”
“Blow [clients] away the first time, or you may not get a second chance,” agrees Lorna Gross, whose Washington, DC, firm boasts an impressively high percentage of homeowners who come back for more. Gross and her team, therefore, commit to “not just executing design, but checking the pulse of the client” throughout the course of work. “Asking a simple question like ‘How do you think things are going?’—and being open to the answer—allows us the opportunity to make a situation better,” she continues. The goal is “to exceed the vision they had for their project,” and in doing so, open the door to future collaborations.
Exactly as dating can lead to marriage, a frequent first step on the road to multiple jobs is an initial assignment that then starts to expand. “Some clients will test us to see if they want to keep investing,” observes Gross. “If they have two houses they want to design, they’ll try us out on half of the first house to see how we support them, if they’ve enjoyed the experience, if we’ve fulfilled their aspirations.”
Keep Connections Green
A second imperative for cultivating repeat customers is not to let contacts lapse after a project ends. Once a family is in her database, Gross will continue to send gifts or cards for birthdays and other special occasions, such as if a client gets a promotion or a child graduates from high school. “I’ll take them to dinner or lunch or coffee sometimes, just to touch base, even if no project is on the horizon,” she says. “It lets us stay on the top of their minds for when they are ready.”
As with design, a notable amount of care is required to do this well. The point is to “capture what is important to each client individually,” she counsels. “If we find out that Client X is gluten-intolerant, we won’t send them a typical cake. Little things like that are time-consuming, but are very, very important.”
Let Trust Grow
Equally important is how the bond between designer and client can strengthen over time. “Clients almost always become personal friends and confidants,” says Herbert Acevedo, coprincipal of Shor in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Practicing in a resort town as they do, he and his partner Kevin Miller generally work first on vacation homes—and then often find themselves brought in to do primary residences afterward. “Trust plays into that,” Acevedo points out. “They know that we’re capable; they know we’ll listen to find out what they really want; they know we’re looking out for their interests.”
According to Chicago designer Summer Thornton, once a close relationship with clients begins to blossom, it will likely encompass far more than design alone. “We become creative directors for many facets of their life,” she explains, “overseeing functions well beyond just the interiors. We advise on architecture or landscape or what piece of land to purchase, we create their tablescapes for holidays and gatherings, we help them as they plan weddings…. The list goes on!” Jeff Andrews’s experience has been much the same: “You become the go-to person, part of the family—you’re like the guru,” he laughs.
Weigh the Pros and Cons
In addition to the obvious upside of bringing in more cash, perennial clients can also be a boon for design firms because they are known quantities—meaning a good bit of heavy lifting is already done. “You know what they like, you know their quirks, you know how they treat you and your team,” Thornton says. “That’s worth a lot.”
Just because a follow-up project is offered, though, doesn’t mean you should automatically jump on it. “We don’t always say yes,” says Shor’s Miller. “The distance may be too far, or we may not know enough resources in the area where the home is located, especially for construction.”
Remember, too, that the initial pair-up isn’t only a chance for your clients to test you; it’s also your opportunity to vet them. Chemistry counts, especially over the longer term. If you have any ambivalence about people you’ve worked with once, the next go-round “could be a great experience or a nightmare,” Andrews notes. “Do you want to spend the next 2 or 10 years with these clients?”
In the final analysis, Andrews recommends not fixating overmuch on whether you will or will not become a habit your clients can’t quit. “For every project, we do the best we can to make it fit the client’s needs, fit our needs as designers, and end in a happy place as something that feels successful to everybody.” If that level of dedication leads to something more long-term, he adds, “It’s the ultimate compliment that somebody wants to have that experience with me again.”
Still, Thornton is confident that consistently giving your all will lead to the payoff: “When the client gets world-class service and world-class design, there’s no reason for them not to continue to work with us for the rest of their life.”

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