In this blog, I am going to share with you a little about my company and why contractors (my main clients) don’t see the value in it until they get slapped with a lawsuit or a client refusing the pay for “their mistake”. Then, I am going to list a few opinions about why you should fight back rather than just say “Thank You”.

 

Let me preface this post with the fact that I primarily work with contractors. Good ole boys that love to be hands on and love to chat about taboo ticket items, i.e. politics or women’s rights… or what have you. They also aren’t afraid to tell you their opinions, despite where their “facts” are coming from.

 

I can’t tell you how many times I have reached out to a client that has a high level of liability to their practice, but refuses to see the logic in reducing it. This is a lot of companies and I am sure many of you can relate. It could be the small mom and pop computer store that doesn’t have a security alarm. It could be the daycare that doesn’t have cameras. Whatever industry you are in, I can guarantee there is that client that thinks, “It will never happen to me”. They believe that truth so full heartedly that their defense is a sassy response to you, the sales person or my personal favorite… marketing advice on whom I should better target (I really love that one, actually).  Then, they validate their statement with “I'm not trying to be a jerk, just trying to be honest”.Doesn’t this sound like that awful relationship you were in during high school?

 

My business, The Online Kitchen Designer, serves two very important purposes. First, the CAD drawings I create for the contractors allow their clients to get a visual image of what their new kitchen, bathroom or house is going to look like. Having worked with consumers before contractors, I can tell you that over half of them have a very difficult time visualizing the concept…hence, the reason why they hire a designer. The second purpose of my company is to severely limit the liability that inherently belongs to the contractor. Clients change their minds or forget which countertop they chose or which cabinet goes where, or if they wanted a niche in the shower. It’s human nature. It doesn’t make the client wrong or bad, it simply just puts the contractor at risk for losing money, or having to order a different slab, etc. So my question is… why wait for the disaster to happen? Why not be proactive rather than reactive? Honestly, if I could answer that question, I wouldn’t be writing this blog because I would already be a gazillionaire, but I don’t have the answer, so here I am.

 

It takes that brief little summary to validate the title of this blog, “Why It’s Ok To Be Sassy With Clients.”

 

Defend Your Brand:
It’s about your own sanity. When someone with no experience in your field thinks they have a right to tell you how to run your business or how your company is marketing towards the wrong target, it means something, to yourself and the client: defend your business. If I were to reply “Thank You, have a wonderful day”, then as the client I would think that I was right, that the business is not of use to me. If your company saves that client from liability, whether they want to hear it or not, you should let them know. That is the whole value of your company. It’s a win-win. Worst case, they ignore the response and you go about your happy life not dealing with the “one-uppers” and “opinion forcers”… Best case, they invest in your services.

 

Cut the PC Crap:
I am so tired of “the customer is always right” b.s. No, the customer isn’t always right. While it is my job to remain tactful and respectful, it is not my job to bend over and just accept what is to come. ( I really hope most of you aren’t first-time readers of my blogs… or my sarcasm might be a little too much) Can you imagine a world where businesses get to defend their practice just as clients get to defend their opinions or experiences? Maybe it is just my stubbornness, but I vastly appreciate the businesses that tell me when I am out of bounds or incorrect. I hold those relationships close and value them highly. I know that 80% of the population doesn’t want to hear that they are wrong, but what if they are?! What if they heard it a little more frequently? Maybe they might accept their proper seat at the table and that 80% might drop down to a tolerable 40%.

 

The Feel Good Effect:
I don’t know about you, but I felt GREAT replying to a prospective client with a sassy reply. It was tactful and respectful (and mildly sarcastic) but also written with a tone of… “Hey, I’ll be here when a client decides to turn against you”.

 

I’ve decided to share the email thread, keeping confidentiality in check… Just for your viewing pleasure.

 

First Email to Client:

 

Hi (BLOCKED OUT),

My name is Mara Shultz. I started my online design business to help contractors simplify their designs by creating a detailed visual with CAD. I offer 2020 drawings for cabinet orders, CAD drawings, and 3D Renderings. Without even knowing it, by detailing our CAD drawings for our contractors, we have reduced a lot of liability! All the subcontractors get to follow the same set of plans as well as clients now have the ability to sign off on the drawings, ensuring they don't "change their mind" throughout the process.

 

I just wanted to personally reach out to you to see if this service is something you may be interested. I’m a small Colorado business, just trying to make lives easier for our local contractors.

 

Let me know if you would like to see samples of our projects!

 

Thank You

Mara Shultz

Direct Email: info@theonlinekitchendesigner.com

www.theonlinekitchendesigner.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6LFIYaugvE (A video of our process) 

 

Customer’s Reply:

 

If you have a way to stop customers from changing their minds, you would be a trillionaire!

 

I’m not sure how much value this brings to us. With cabinets, the problem is that each line of cabinets offers different size boxes and varying products. That’s why I have my cabinet supplier do those designs. And each customer tends towards a different line…… Past that, I think you would have better luck marketing to homeowners. As much as I would like to use you, the fit seems cumbersome once the contractor is involved. I think it would be best to get the homeowners before they get to guys like me. Not trying to be a jerk, just honest.

Good luck

 

My sassy, yet tactful response:

 

BLOCKED OUT,

 I appreciate your reply. Funny you say that though because my market started out with contractors with less interest from consumers. See, consumers expect the contractors to provide drawings, since (technically) it's their job to show/explain the design. 

As far as stopping clients from changing their minds… no lol, Im not God, but I can prohibit them from saying they said one thing, when in reality they signed off on the CAD drawings that said another. It's been a life and money saver for all of my clients. Actually, I have one client that ONLY gets the drawings so their clients sign off on them and there is no "he said she said" when it comes to materials and design layout. 

To touch upon your cabinets, yes, you are correct. All sizes and companies we can accommodate. Most cabinet companies have catalogs and that is what we use to insert them into the CAD drawings. We just also add the design of the backsplash, the materials and every spec we can to ensure there are no hiccups. 

See, I come from California, which is the future of Colorado. Colorado is in a HUGE building and remodeling boom, like Cali, started about 4 years ago. Unfortunately, contractors here haven't picked up some of the modern day liability insurances yet, like having clients sign off on CAD drawings for EVERY job lol But, then again, California is a sue happy state. Only time will tell with Colorado, but I'm here when contractors want that liability reduced :D 

I’ve attached samples anyway, just so you are knowledgeable about the program. Hey, maybe your client will insist that you have a drawing of their kitchen to be… and I'll be excited to work with you when that day comes :D

Have a wonderful week. 

Mara Shultz

 

Don’t let customers tell you that you’re business isn’t worthy. Are you IN business right? Then there is value.  Don’t be afraid to be Sassy!

 

 

 

Mara Shultz is a young entrepreneur that prides herself on being a Jack Of All Trades. She is an award-winning songwriter and a founder and partner of Market Share Consultants and The Online Kitchen Designer. She leads Ring The World Together as an RE:definer, supporting and building a community for victims of sexual abuse/assault, molestation, and rape. With over 5 years of sales and marketing experience in the home improvement industry, she has learned  training techniques and hopes to create thousands of successful advertising and marketing campaigns.

 Mara has a love for writing blogs, mostly in a sarcastic tone. She is known for witty, off of the wall posts, professionally, and writes raw and vulnerable personal blogs. You can follow her on www.ringtheworldtogether.com/impacts or her LinkedIn page www.linkedin.com/in/marashultz