Sunday, September 3, 2017

"Taking Notes Helps Us Sort Out The Information We Get"

Conducting an effective meeting with a potential client has a lot of moving parts. We begin by having a rough idea of what they might be interested in doing before we arrive that we determined from our phone conversation with them or the person who arranged the appointment on their behalf. We need the tools that we are going to use to make and record our observation - camera (even if it's on our phone or tablet), tape measure, notepad, pencil, and any checklists we like to use. We might want to have other team members present as well, and that needs to be arranged and coordinated.

As the meeting begins, and the dynamics of the situation begin to unfold, we have to greet the client and anyone else who is present - caregivers, spouse, adult children, grandchildren, neighbors, friends, financial advisors, occupational therapists, case managers, or others. We show them courtesy and respect and indicate that we are there to help them.

We are going to be asking many questions of the client and the others present about how their current space is or is not providing adequately for them, what they would like to see done differently, if they have specific ideas to suggest or recommend, what budget amount they have considered or actually committed to using, how they use their home, if they have seen the improvements they want actually done anyplace else, and more.

Unless we have an extraordinary memory and can keep track of the details our clients are furnishing, we need to begin taking notes and writing down the answers they are giving us. Otherwise it's just a conversation, and we won't be able to use much of what they have given us because we simply won't remember it. It's not that we find it unimportant or that we don't want to remember it. It's because they are just one of several clients that we have, and we might tend to confuse the details of one with another or not be able to keep the information straight for a couple of days until we got to the proposal stage.

Taking notes about what we see and hear is essential for planning an effective solution. We don't need to rely on our memory but can actually refer to our notes and photos to review what we observed and were told. What's the point of asking the clients, caregivers, and others in the household for their input if we are not going to be serious about writing it down and using it?

Having a written record of our visit helps us to strategize what we want to accomplish in formulating a solution that we will propose and ultimately act upon if all goes well. It also helps us involve other team members who maybe were not present during the initial fact-finding visit or didn't have the same perspective we did in looking at the potential of the assignment.

Taking notes is not a clerical function – it’s a sales function. Unless we are real good at keeping track in our head of everyone we have ever had a conversation with about an improvement they wanted or can even recall every detail and request of our most recent appointment, we must begin to take notes and then rely on them instead of our memory. Our clients are going to appreciate how we seem to understand the project and have a command of the details rather than needing to constantly confirm with them what they want because it has escaped our memory.

Taking notes - in direct response to the answers we receive from the questions we ask, from information volunteered of offered by the client, and from what we observe while we are there - is the mark of a professional.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master 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. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.