The home market has shifted. Demand for new construction is cooling as temperatures rise on interest rates, leading to a boom in home renovations. Remodeling an existing home can be a good investment for people who have built equity and have low-interest rates. However, thanks to inflation and rising credit usage, wallets are still tight.
The current climate presents a double-edged sword. The uptick in remodeling will keep the construction industry strong while other sectors will see cutbacks. On the flip side, the climate generates a more demanding client. Many are now self-taught authorities on design and remodeling thanks to TikTok, HGTV, Pinterest and Houzz. As “experts,” clients may try to dictate all the project details, leaving industry professionals paid to assist them. Many clients also are now asking if project managers and design professionals are needed when they feel the money may be better spent elsewhere.
To effectively respond and adapt, designers need to showcase the value for their services. Here are ways to demonstrate the value of your services to clients in an increasingly demanding market:
1. Be a Knowledgeable Interpreter
Design professionals get to fill a unique role by taking all the information a client has pinned to their Pinterest boards and reinterpreting it as useful knowledge. Knowledge is the skillful application of information in a meaningful way. TV shows, Google searches and AI chatbots may be full of information, but lack the ability to convert it into true knowledge. This is where you should shine as a design professional or project manager.
Be the information interpreter in a world dominated by photoshopped graphics, clickbait articles and HGTV superstars. You can identify the common threads in a client’s requests and expertly weave them into a complete project vision and plan. When you manage the process with respect for a client’s preferences, you can earn trust going into a project, which will make the entire process smoother.
2. Be an Informed Professional
Information oversaturation is a problem. Something is new every day. Technology is constantly emerging and changing every aspect of a building. Clients often expect designers to be up to speed on every TikTok trend, every home design influencer and Magnolia Network celebrity currently trending. It’s impossible to catch everything as it comes flying past, but it is important to stay informed.
Earn a client’s respect and business by demonstrating your knowledge of the current market, building code and trends. But also respectfully reset client expectations. After all, the magic they see on TV and social media rarely reflects reality. When your projects start, initiate an ongoing and open dialogue with tradespeople on the job site can help spread knowledge of changing guidelines and best practices, leading to a better project experience for everyone.
3. Think Outside the Box
Henry Ford is famous for saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Gaining a client’s trust by being an informed professional can allow you to present what may look like an “out-of-the-box” solution to home renovation challenges. Clients are sometimes blinded by proximity to a personal project. They have difficulty imagining anything other than what is right in front of them or what is correct in their minds. Recognize the fear of change. Explain solutions in everyday terms. Simplicity and empathy can help all parties capture the same vision for the project. Remember that it’s your job every day, but for some clients, a remodel is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Being able to blow away expectations will require a fair amount of handholding in the process.
Clients are cautious with their hard-earned dollars. They will be scrutinizing portfolios, references and Google reviews with caution. Set yourself apart from the crowd. Demonstrate the value of your services and expertise by helping them decipher their true needs and being a knowledgeable guide throughout the project. Present creative solutions. Approach challenges with empathy and build client trust, so you can drive loyalty and referrals, and ultimately secure more business for the future.