Get New Clients From Every Project

Use this low cost, proven method from business coach Melissa Galt

Your design business is largely word of mouth, and referrals are great. But there is an even simpler way to make every client a source for your next project. It’s fun, and your client will truly appreciate it.

Throw them a small party. Call it a housewarming, if you did the whole house. If you just did a room, call it a room warming. I recommend an intimate gathering of 10-20 guests. You do the setup. You are the host. Your clients are the guests of honor.

Why? Because entertaining can be intimidating for clients but it comes easily for you. Plus, being guests of honor in their own home — with their chosen guest list — is very nearly irresistible to most folks. If they don't have many guests to invite, ask if you may invite a couple of potential clients. I have done this with great success.

Timing is key

Time the event closely to your Big Reveal. The longer you wait, the more you will have to do to get the spaces looking as you had intended instead of how your client is living in them. Yes, you’ll have to gently remove your clients’ additions, clean, restyle, and set up for the event. Keep the party close to the Reveal, and you’ll save a few hours.

Send invitations by both email and snail mail, when your client provides the addresses. Make these classy, well branded, and tempting. Mention wine and appetizers, a signature cocktail, and nibbles. Or, you can even make this a bloody mary bar and breakfast bites for brunch.

For wine and spirits, contact a local merchant and negotiate a discount. They want your market, and you can form a profitable partnership. You can do the same with a quality local caterer on the appetizers or bites. And always invite the proprietor to serve, supervise, and meet the guests.

Formal invitations add a tempting touch

Be deliciously memorable

Put together a slideshow of the before, during, and after. Don’t wait for professional photographs. Use the ones you took as each space was finished. Run them in an endless loop on an iPad or laptop during the party. Even better, sync your show to a big screen TV in the room, if you can.

Work the room

Get into conversation with as many guests as possible, point out key features, share the challenges the project had, and your unique solutions. Design is first and foremost a problem-solving business; we provide exquisite solutions.

Print a 4x6 heavy weight card with an elegant invitation to schedule a complimentary 1:1 Design Discovery Consultation by Zoom. You can choose to do this in their home instead of by Zoom, if you prefer. This is not free. Free has no value. It is complimentary. You are providing the valuable gift of your time, talent, and expertise.

You are demonstrating your value

As designers, one of the biggest reasons we are hired is to show our clients what they did not know existed, and now can’t live without. You are opening the door to endless possibility in comfort, style, convenience, and luxury.

Leaving your cards out and hoping for calls is not the way to grow your business, crafting a special invitation is. Send thank you notes to each guest following your event and invite them to schedule their complimentary session. You are not pushing or selling, simply inviting. Notice I use the words “consultation” and “session” because they have inherent value, a “call” does not.

Of course, you don’t want this to be a surprise to your client. You want them to look forward to it from day one. To create this anticipation, include language in your letter of agreement that states you will host this room warming or housewarming. You will know from the start that they are on board so you can schedule it and plan it.

Recap: 7 Steps to capturing your next client
  1. Include your project celebration in your agreement
  2. Schedule your celebrations to coincide with your big reveal
  3. Invite your client’s guests by email and formal snail mail
  4. Form profit partnerships with local wine merchants and caterers
  5. Finesse setup and finalize clean up of celebration
  6. Feature a slideshow of before, progress, and after pics
  7. Provide invitations to a complimentary one on one design discovery consultation for each guest. Follow up.

This process is so easy to implement and maintain, that it will soon become routine. Then, you’ll discover that the intrigue ignited and buzz generated will deliver more new projects — with more ideal clients — than you ever imagined.

To get more of Melissa’s great business-building ideas, be sure to check out her Fall Market seminar. On Saturday, October 16, at 10am, she will discuss How to Leverage Flat Fees; The Fast Track to Better Clients & Bigger Profits at Universal Furniture.

About Melissa Galt

A successful residential interior designer for more than 25 years, Melissa has more than 15 years experience coaching designers to double their revenues in half the time with clients they love. Her proven processes, tested tools, and smart strategies will build your business quickly while you have the time of your life. The author of “Marketing Luxury Design: Attracting Affluent Clients,” she is a popular speaker and prolific writer on design business topics. The great granddaughter of iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright, some say design is in Melissa’s DNA.