For many remodelers (and these practices apply to interior designers), this process has become extremely protracted and complicated; so much so, that a group I work with in California found that the selection process now takes 50 percent more time than it did 10 years ago. For a business owner, understanding what’s changed about the environment can help to combat the problem.
The first change is choice. There’s a proliferation of product choices today that didn’t exist 10 to 20 years ago. Homeowners are overwhelmed with options, which can make it difficult for them to decide.
The second change is the internet. Easy access to product information has clients surfing the web and reading reviews day and night. This results in more questions and indecision.
Together, these elements have been a game changer for the product selection process. You may think, “More is better,” but it’s actually just the opposite. American psychologist Barry Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, posits that when people are given too many options they become confused and fearful of making a mistake. This results in feelings of anxiety and stress.
What You Can Do
1] Address the issue up front with the client. Let them know about the physiological effects of too many choices and try to control the process.
2] Set clear selection goals and a timeline for decisions. I always prefer to help clients keep the end goal in mind — the date when they want to be enjoying the space. This keeps them motivated to push the selection process forward. Write down the selection agenda, with the specific choices that need to be made, then review the decisions in writing at the end of each meeting.
3] Find out what all the decision makers care about up front. Ask specific questions. When it comes to the home, priorities will often vary between spouses/partners.
4] Use the power of three. Always show the homeowner three options. Doing so reduces confusion while still allowing clients to feel that a complete decision has been made. (For more, check out my “Power of 3” Remodeling Mastery podcast.)
5] Attend selection meetings in person. If you look at what happens during this process, if it’s not done properly, you’ll waste huge amounts of time getting it back on track. Just being there will make a big difference.
6] Control the fantasy and the budget as much as possible. Some clients are like kids in a candy store, and it’s your job to be the voice of reason. Help them stay focused on the level of investment of each selection and not get too emotionally attached. Generally, where the selection process goes offtrack is around the cost.
7] Make it fun. Selections are painful for many, but you can make it fun. I recently heard of a company that hires a limo and takes the client from showroom to showroom, then has a nice lunch and pops open a bottle of champagne at the end of the day when all of the selections have been confirmed.
If you can make these tips and techniques an integral part of your process, you’ll save time, increase sales, improve your close rates, and have more delighted clients.