Creating Value for Your Services in a Tightening Market

May 29, 2023

The market has started to shift. Demand for new construction is cooling as temperatures rise on interest rates, leading to a boom in home renovations. Remodeling an existing home can be a good investment for people who have built equity and have low-interest rates. However, thanks to inflation concerns, wallets are still being held tight. Industry professionals are fighting a song clients have sung before: “It’s my money, and I’ll spend it how I want to.” Designers need to know the importance of creating value for their services in this changing scenario.

Kitchen and bath professionals are finding the current economy a double-edged sword. The uptick in remodeling will keep the construction industry strong while other sectors will see cutbacks. On the flip side, this climate generates a more demanding client. Many are now self-taught authorities on design and remodeling thanks to TikTok, HGTV, Pinterest and Houzz. As “experts,” clients may try to dictate all the project details, leaving the industry professionals paid to assist them between a rock and a hard place. Wanting to honor clients’ wishes and reality don’t always align. Many clients also are now asking if project managers and design professionals are needed when they feel the money may be better spent elsewhere.

With the past pandemic telling us so many of our jobs were non-essential and AI waiting to overtake us, what makes the human element of the design field essential? What are some of the best ways to demonstrate the value of your services to clients in an increasingly demanding market?

Creating Value: Be a Knowledgeable Interpreter

Design professionals get to fill a unique role by taking all the information a client has pinned to their Pinterest boards and reinterpreting it as useful knowledge. Knowledge is the skillful application of information in a meaningful way. TV shows, Google searches and AI chatbots may be full of information, but lack the ability to convert it into true knowledge. This is where you should shine as a design professional or project manager. Be the information interpreter in a world dominated by photoshopped graphics, clickbait articles and HGTV superstars. You can identify the common threads in a client’s requests and expertly weave them into a complete project. Managing this process with respect for a client’s preferences earns trust going into a project and referrals afterward.

Be an Informed Professional

Information oversaturation is a problem for clients and professionals in the home improvement and building industries. Something is new every day. Technology is constantly emerging and changing every aspect of a building. Clients often expect designers to be up on every TikTok influencer, Instagram star and Magnolia Network celebrity currently trending. It’s impossible to catch everything as it comes flying past, but it is important to stay informed. Earn a client’s respect and business by demonstrating knowledge of the current market, building code and trends. Photoshop and TV edits create a poor picture of renovation realities. Respectfully reset expectations for a smoother project. Having an ongoing and open dialogue with tradespeople on the job site can help spread knowledge of changing guidelines and best practices, leading to better future projects for everyone.

Creating Value: Think Outside the Box

Henry Ford is famous for saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Gaining a client’s trust by being a knowledgeable interpreter and their respect by being an informed professional can allow you to present what may look like an “out-of-the-box” solution to their home renovation challenge. We all know clients blinded by proximity to a personal project. They have difficulty imagining anything other than what is right in front of them. Recognize the fear of change. Explain solutions in everyday terms. Simplicity and empathy can help all parties capture the same vision for the project. Remember that it’s your job every day, but for some clients, a remodel is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Being able to blow away expectations will require a fair amount of handholding in the process.

Clients are cautious with their hard-earned dollars. They will be scrutinizing portfolios, references and Google reviews with caution. Set yourself apart from the crowd. Demonstrate the value of your services by helping them decipher their true needs and being a knowledgeable guide throughout the project. Present creative solutions. Approach challenges with empathy to build client trust, loyalty and referrals, which will secure your business for the future.

—By Anneke Huisman, a cabinetry design and sales specialist for Standale Home Studio in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Photo courtesy Standale Home Studio