Aim to get a good understanding of any goals and expectations a client has. This can be a benefit for both of you in the early stages because the client may not have thought much about what these are either – in which case they won’t realise their needs aren’t being met until it’s too late.
This conversation should reveal their materialistic goals such as ‘renovate the outdoor alfresco area’ but it should also cover other tangibles, such as ‘weekly project updates’ or ‘barbeque pit ready to use on Christmas day’. This tells you that cooking lunch on Christmas is the top priority, meaning the decking can wait until January.
Understanding a client’s budget is crucial to offering the right advice. Knowing their financial limits better positions you to identify the most important elements of a project and the areas that can endure a budgetary trim.
Questions to ask include: Is this an investment home or owner-occupier, and will that change in the future? Do you plan to sell in the near future? The answers to these can determine the products and materials you’ll source.
For example, a client with an investment property who wants a trendy marble benchtop in the kitchen to attract tenants may not realise this look can be achieved with inexpensive imitations. Similarly, the carpet selected for an investment property with a young family and pets will likely be different to the carpet chosen for the home of an owner-occupier, semi-retired couple.
Make a plan
If a client’s budget is too conservative, having this discussion gives you an immediate opportunity to identify and rectify potential payment issues before commencing any works. In addition, though, it also opens an opportunity for you to secure future work and avoid compromise on either side.
Offering to create a long-term plan which will see some works being held back a year or two is a good alternative. This means the client doesn’t need to sacrifice on their vision, you don’t need to forgo the works entirely, and there’s time to source the high-quality products and materials the project deserves.