I’m in awe of consultants especially since spending several days with fashion, style, and image consultants at the Monthly Marketing Bundle Retreat last month. I recognize how passionate we are and how we’re committed to going above and beyond to make things work for our clients.
I’ve learned through my years of consulting that not every problem gets solved. We don’t always figure out the mysteries of what’s going on with our clients if for instance they stop midstream and we never hear from them again. All we can do is vow to do our best, let go of the results and move into a guilt-free zone. There are many more people who need your services.
I’ve chosen a few questions to share with you that consultants have asked me during classes. Maybe by listening to the advice I gave them, you may have an easier time sorting out what you’ll do next time.
Clients who shop but say no to closet visits to integrate the new with the old
Mary asks: Here’s a challenge I have with a couple of long-standing clients. They love to shop each season but don’t find it necessary to have me revisit their closet after our shopping trip even though I suggest it. It seems they like to wear the outfits we’ve assembled in the stores, and aren’t inclined to integrate and expand the flexibility of their wardrobe. Interestingly enough they are both CPAs. Any suggestions on what I could do to motivate them to take this step? Or, do you find there are women who only want to wear their clothing together as purchased for a particular season? Quite frankly, I’m losing track of what’s in their closets after 5+ years of working with them. What new approach can I take to get back in there with them?
Brenda answers: I don’t come across this situation often but I have other colleagues who have this type of client. One way you could get into their closets is by highlighting a service your other clients enjoy. Let’s use dressing for social situations as an example. You could tell them how you help your clients figure out outfits for upcoming events and the great relief your clients feel knowing exactly what they’ll be wearing. There’s a chance your client would go for that. Once you’re in her closet assembling these event or social outfits, she may realize she wants you in her closet more often.
In the future, you could build in this post-shopping trip appointment to integrate the new clothes with the previously purchased clothes as part of the services they sign up for. If you create packages you could make the closet visit a part of the package. Or if you charge hourly, tell the new client how it works. You may say, “We’ll start with a style appointment and then go shopping and then we’ll come back to the closet to integrate your new purchases with what you already have. Let’s get dates on the calendar for those first three appointments and then assess where we’ll go from there.”
The bulk of business comes from one client and then that dries up
Susan says: The good news and bad news is that my business began to revolve around one client. Long story short; several things happened so that all of a sudden it didn’t. She said she wanted to get back in touch, etc. As I look back at what I could have/should have done, most definitely I did not help her to understand my worth and how I made her life easier.
At this point, we’ve exchanged several emails and haven’t gotten together. She is not one for answering the phone, so I don’t hold out hope for that tactic. I think I’ll write a letter to her, not a long letter, but I’m thinking that a written letter will allow me to lay out my case a little better.
Brenda answers: There is a risk in having a client like that who can be so consuming of our time until she drops out for whatever reason. I agree with you that a letter could be nice but not focused so much on laying out her case but focused on her interests. You could send a special report or tip sheet you’ve written that you think she’d enjoy. Provide her some value that way. Or send her a “thinking of you” card. It may reignite the relationship. In the meantime book a speaking engagement to earn new client appointments.
Posting your rates on your website: yes or no?
Mary Anne asks: What do you think about posting your rates on your website?
BK’s answer: I don’t believe people make decisions based on the price. We think they do but they don’t. After they’ve had that initial phone conversation with you, the issue of price falls to the bottom of the list of considerations for using your services. If you spend those first 30 minutes listening to what’s going on for her and what made her call you, you’ll know whether the two of you make a good fit. If you know you can help her, give her some ideas about how you’d solve her problems and what your services could do for her. When she realizes how much you can help, she’ll do whatever is required to make it happen. The cost won’t be the deciding factor.
That back and forth communication can’t happen in the static form of a website. You can customize programs or services easier without having your prices online.
What you could say on your website to get the conversation started would be something like this:
“I’d love to learn more about you and your needs. Please contact me for a free 30-minute consultation so we can see if my services could benefit you. I’ll be happy to discuss how I work and what my fees are. Please call: 333 333 3333.”
I always feel like I’m running out of time and then rushing out of the appointment without making plans for another one.
I suggest watching the clock. Start wrapping up with fifteen minutes left. You don’t want to feel rushed and neither does your client. Give her time to get dressed and be ready for the next activity in her day. Straighten things up around you whether you’re in her closet or in the dressing room. Review what’s been accomplished and then make the suggestion for the next logical, strategic service that would help her. Maybe it’s another closet appointment, or a shopping trip to focus on shoes or a trip to the makeup counter. Make the next appointment before you leave this one. That way she’s feeling looked after and taken care of. And you’re feeling good about taking good care of her. She has that next appointment already planned and she knows you’ll be back to pick up where you left off today.
A colleague, Geralin Thomas, has a great suggestion for how to end the client appointment on a happy note:
Geralin says: Regarding ending the session in a mindful manner – I like to wrap with an idea taken from the movie theater. I “roll the credits” in the final few minutes of client appointments. This means I ask the client to share her favorite tips, techniques, tools or “ah-ha moments.” This leaves us both with a pleasant way to end our sessions – and – serves as an exit strategy. Psychologically, I think it’s good for both of us and serves as a reminder of the value she received.
I hope this discussion about clients is helpful to you. Do you have some other questions you’d like me to respond to? Just leave them in the comments section. I’d love to help!