Thursday, February 25, 2016

"What Does The Client Want Us To Accomplish For Them?"

When a potential client or customer contacts us to discuss and evaluate any contemplated changes in their home that might be required or requested for safety or comfort, we need to begin our conversation by asking what they want to accomplish. Just showing up and making assumptions about what needs to be done or suggesting an approach without understanding what is needed is not a prudent or effective way to begin.

For most projects, there are multiple ways of approaching a solution, so we must determine what is envisioned – including budget, time frame to complete it, and desired outcome  before suggesting any ideas. Some plans are going to be quicker and easier to do, some are going to take more money than others, and some will have a longer life span than others. Knowing which to actually recommend is a function of learning what is preferred by the client or customer.

The first step to effective communication is learning what people want for us to accomplish for them. There may be many similarities in what is required to be done or fixed among properties built at roughly the same time, in the same area, or by the same builder or developer, yet the determining factor in finalizing an approach is what the individuals need rather than what might benefit the properties in general.

Asking what people would like to have done in their homes to facilitate safety or comfort, learning what is and is not working for them now, discovering how they want to use a particular space in their home and what needs to happen to accomplish this, requesting input on solutions they have envisioned or considered, and determining what they can contribute financially to the project are all important considerations for arriving at a plan of action.

Focusing on the client's purpose - finding a real need they have and a direction for creating an effective solution to address that need - is how we move forward with defining a scope of work and then beginning and completing the job for them. Each task is unique to the individual even though we might complete similar projects for their neighbors or for like properties. We can't make assumptions. We must request and receive their input to design effective solutions.   

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.