Sometimes it takes people a while to hire their first interior designer. They think they can do the design themselves, or they decide to spend their money other ways.
But once people truly understand what it means to live in a lovely, well-designed living space, they get converted.
That’s why it’s generally much easier to sell interior design services to people who’ve bought them before — and even easier when they’ve bought them from YOU before. It’s especially easy compared to finding new leads, with whom you’ve yet to establish trust and expertise.
Unfortunately, many interior designers spend most of their marketing efforts trying to recruit new clients and forget to continue to reach out to the ones they’ve already worked with.
Here are a few of the simple tactics that I’ve found work especially well to get repeat work and referrals.
Leave Parting Gifts
One of the keys to getting repeat work and referrals is staying top-of-mind for your clients. That way, they’ll think of you first when another design need comes up.
One great way to make sure you stay a part of their lives is to leave a something in their home that’s from you personally. This will ideally become a permanent fixture in the room you designed, and has several different benefits for your business:
- Increases client satisfaction for the original job. They will be more likely to leave you a glowing review after you’ve given them a lovely and complimentary gift.
- Can become a conversation starter. When their friends come over to visit their new space, your unique and interesting parting gift can instigate a conversation about your services, which may land you additional jobs.
- Can be a good start to a new product line. As I mentioned in my post on the importance of multiple revenue streams, these parting gifts may also be a great way to get started with your own line of decor products and boost your income that way. This is generally a better idea for experienced designers who already have strong social media followings /audiences.
- Keeps you top-of-mind and makes it easier to contact you. In the rare event that your client needs your services in the future and can’t recall your name or business, they can always find that information on the lovely gift you left for them.
Use Social Media Connections
Using social media to promote your brand isn’t quite as simple as it used to be. Facebook, in particular, has cracked down on the visibility of company pages, and using your personal page for business purposes can be tricky.
However, there are still a lot of ways to leverage the power of social media to get more referrals. The most important thing you can do in this category is to focus on getting permission to share photos of your client’s home and tag them in the photos, whether they’re used on Facebook or Instagram.
You can build this into your initial client onboarding process, using a waiver-type language that clarifies in your right to use certain photos. Or, you can send an email asking for permission after your relationship gets off to a good start. The key is to get their permission in writing somewhere before you start sharing photos of their home and tagging them in those photos.
Once they’re tagged, their like-minded friends will see that you did a great job, and they can verify that with their friend. This goes a long way to securing the trust you need to land a new client.
Note that while most people are happy to have their beautiful living spaces shown off on social media, some won’t be OK with it. You can also clarify whether there are any areas or people that they don’t want online. For example, getting a great photo of the kids playing in the brand new playroom you designed could be a big win, because the client could be more likely to share that photo on their personal page and with their friends. But as you can imagine, it could also backfire spectacularly if that client doesn’t want photos of their kids online.
One easy win that many interior designers skip is simply asking our clients for reviews or referrals after a project finishes.
You can build this into your initial production schedule for the client — put a note on your calendar to follow up with a simple, personal email. You can even use a template, something like this:
“Hi Jane, I was so happy that you loved the redesign of your living area. If you don’t mind, a quick review on Facebook / Google would really help me grow my services. Also, if you know of any friends or family who might be looking for a designer, I’d appreciate it you could pass my name along to them. I’d be happy to give you a $XXX credit for a future design work if they do end up booking with me.”
Keep in Touch
Along with the initial email asking for reviews, you might want to schedule one or two other follow-up emails asking how the furniture they purchased is holding up and whether the new space is working for them. Just seeing your name might remind them that you’re available for other work.
Besides scheduled follow ups, a really effective and thoughtful way to keep in touch is with annual holiday cards or even birthday cards. It’s hard not to think fondly of someone who remembers your birthday every year.
The thing with design, as I mentioned in my post on your competition, is that it’s a service that families often find falling to the bottom of their priority list. In may cases, they may have been “meaning” to hire you for that new room addition or the untouched guest room, but just haven’t gotten around to it. These reminders make it more likely that they’ll actually pull the trigger.
Offer Complimentary Services
You don’t necessarily have to wait until your client moves to a new home or wants to freshen up their design to land repeat business.
Sometimes the best and easiest way to get more jobs in the books is to diversify your services with other work that your clients would appreciate.
For example, some of my clients offer seasonal decor. The holidays are the most popular time for this service, but there’s no reason why interior designers couldn’t also branch into decorating for holidays like Halloween or specialize in fresh and beautiful patio decor as the summer months approach each year.
Another possibility is party decor. If this area interests you, you could find a lot of willing clients who need help getting their home ready for Instagrammable children’s birthday parties, anniversary parties, Thanksgiving dinners, and more. You could even team up with a party planner and cross promote each other’s services, which could be a great way to quickly and mutually grow your audiences.
The beauty of these complimentary services is that they give you a chance to work more often with people you know and trust, and who won’t have any hesitations about hiring you.You don’t need to wait for your interior design clients to move to a new home before you work with them again. Click To Tweet
Of course, for any of these retention and referral tactics to work, you’ll have needed to do a fantastic job with the initial design project. If you’re still not ending projects with thrilled clients, work on refining your process and improving your portfolio first. In many cases, if you’ve done ready work, referrals happen organically with no effort needed on your part.
Interior Design by Candice Brown Design #IDMCMastermind #IDMCDesigners
Photography by Valerie Wilcox