What do designers need to ensure that projects are successful? Confidence, said Kimberley Seldon at Designers Today‘s recent Designer Experience conference.
Seldon was the event’s keynote speaker, and she focused on how designers can launch projects like a boss, detailing the first few steps of Business of Design’s 15-step project management strategy and coaching system. Seldon established Business of Design (BOD) in 2004 after she had given everything she had to make her clients happy, but was still unable to satisfy them often enough. “I ended up hiring a business coach and through that experience, I started over and built a business relying on systems. If you don’t have systems, you won’t be able to satisfy your customers.” The BOD system helps designers master confidence, lead projects, earn more money, satisfy clients and manage trades.
Seldon said you can have talent, heart, drive, passion and vision, but if you do not have confidence, your project will not be as successful. “You need confidence to take the lead and be the expert that the clients are hoping they hired,” said Seldon.
Seldon shared the first three steps of her 15-step project management system with the Designer Experience audience:
“Fees are your brand. Raise your fees if you intend to reach clients at a higher level. You want to work with YOUR ideal customer, and you can do that with your fees,” said Seldon. Seldon recommended hiring someone to manage a business phone line that manages incoming calls for consultations. “Have the employee who answers these calls take notes. Have them write down red flags from the call and any important details. These calls can reveal if a potential customer is an ideal fit with you, the designer.” During the two-hour consultation, Seldon said she brings a bag with a clipboard, a stack of blank documents (scope of work pages), graph paper and sometimes a measuring tape. “Your job at the consultation is to develop a scope of work for the client, and a healthy consultation rate, no matter where you are located, should be somewhere over $500 for the two hours,” said Seldon.
- Contract and retainer
Seldon recommended that designers never just drop off a contract with the client. Instead, “walk through your contract line by line with your customer so any questions can be addressed, and that person is well equipped to discuss the contract with their partner,” said Seldon. The contract clarifies expectations for client behavior and vice versa. A successful contract is a disincentive to litigation. Think of it as your partner and your paper courage.”
- Trade Day
“We invite every single trade team that was hired on this project to the site. It is a very impressive event where the client sees everybody who is required to accomplish the project.”