Monday, March 19, 2018

"We Are Designing For Our Client - Not For Us"

What happens so often in sales is that we tend to overlay our own feelings and desires onto those of our customers and end up creating, designing, or pushing for a concept that we would want to own personally rather than understanding and appealing specifically to their needs. Whether we would want to own it or not really is not part of the equation - as long as it is not something that we would be embarrassed to have them own.

Unfortunately, many salespeople try to convince us of what we should buy - color, style, model, size, or investment amount - based on their preferences (or those of their company) while turning a deaf ear to what we are expressing. We should only be interested in their opinions if we specifically request them and then believe that they are being candid with us in their response. Otherwise, their preferences are not important to us.

In the same way, when we are creating an aging in place solution for our clients, what we desire, what we would purchase, and what we would like to have them select are irrelevant unless we have exactly the same needs as they do or have experienced a similar situation. Then we may share with them how we arrived at our conclusion, but the decision is still theirs - and only theirs - to make.

Our color preferences, our fabric choices, our furniture selections, and what we would like to have for lighting, flooring, cabinetry, faucets, countertops, doors, bath fixtures, or other features should not enter into what our clients choose. This is their home, and they are the ones who are going to be paying for the improvements and waking up to this design every day. It should look nice and be well-conceived and executed; however, the actual selections and the scope are up to the clients and their needs and budget.

Even though it is their home, and the choices are totally theirs (with any help or advice they may be receiving from their medical professionals, designers, family, caregivers, or others) we should still make them aware of any issues or concerns that we have concerning their choices and how their choices may apply to their future situation. For instance, if we know that they have chosen colors or patterns that may not age well with them or a short-term solution for budgetary reasons, we should discuss our concerns with them. 

Ultimately it is their choice, but we do have a professional obligation to advise them properly about our concerns for any of their selections or preferences. Here, we would be looking out for their safety rather than trying to impose our desires for what they should select, based on what we think we would like to have in a similar situation.

The important thing to remember is that we are working for our clients and that this is their home. We should not offer our opinions or preferences about what they are selecting in terms of price point, color, styling, or other features except to suggest that what they are considering performs well or that something else might be more to their liking (if this is true and not just because we would prefer to have it in our home). Their needs and our preferences may be quite far apart. That's OK as long as we truly are providing products and solutions that they need, that fits within their budget, and they desire to have. It is their choice based on the selections we offer, and we should be happy that we were able to serve them rather than to persuade them to pick what we think we would have selected to have installed in our home in a similar set of circumstances.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place 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.