As Interior Designers, we help our clients make over their spaces and sometimes entire homes or buildings. You might even specialize in New Construction or Home Remodeling. So most likely you have worked with a Contractor or two in your Design Business. Sometimes jobs go as designed, some times things are a bit weird, and then some jobs have gone south before you even finished!
It left you wondering, what happened? What is the disconnect? You are not alone.
Working with Contractors for over 20 years, and also working for a contractor, I have come up with some ideas that will help you in building a great relationship with your Contractors.
You want a great realationship with your Contractors. They help you implement your vision and bring it to life! They make you look good! BUT, you can make them look good too! So the first place to start is to think about HOW you can serve them best? Are their services you can offer to help a local builder or remodeler? What do they struggle with? What are their pain points?
Where to begin?
Just like the needs analysis you do for your clients, you want to think about how you can work best with any contractor. One thing contractors struggle with is getting their clients to make decisions on design direction and selections. You have to decide what you could offer.
- Can you help their clients pick selections?
2. Can you help pull all the selections and proposals together and get the client’s approval?
Another need a contractor has is clear communication through drawings. There are a lot of moving parts and pieces to a remodel or new build. They benefit highly when drawings are provided (that a client can sign off on) to give clear direction to their team and subs.
3. Are you able to do drawings to help clients visualize the space?
4. Can you put together a plan set of construction documents? Even if you hire a virtual design assistant or a Draftsman to help with drawings, it can still be your vision and it will provide a huge benefit to the contractor.
Package it up!
Whatever you can do, bundle it into a package. If you have Mydoma Studio, which is a project management tool for Interior Designers, you can create packages (not only to post on your website) but also “private packages” that you can send to your contractors.
First, you need to think of what you can offer and also how much time those things will take. Bundle everything together and tie a bow on it. Put a value and a “special price” for just them. For example; if you think it will take 20 hours to meet with their client to do Needs analysis, concept, selections, drawings, and proposals. Whatever your regular rate is, you will want give a % off to the contractor as they are sending you repeat business. You can even let them know the regular cost and then what you are giving it to them for. It is all about perceived value. Of course, once they get to know you and are reaping the benefits of working with a designer, the value is not perceived, but tangible. Bottom line – You need an enticing offer and service that will get them excited! Put your package together and let them know it covers X amount of hours.
What to consider…
Things to consider when packaging your service for a contractor:
- Is there a simplified version of your design services that you can offer?
- Create an enticing offer that will help the contractor with their clients. They need their clients to pick ALL selections. Anything left off will delay their project.
- They need a designer that can stay within budgets or at least make client aware they are going over estimate.
- They need selections & proposals to be organized. Mydoma has been a huge selling point for showing contractors that we can organize their projects.
- They might need some drawings to help them build from.
- They need a quick turn around or simplified process.
- They need a designer that will be an advocate and team member.
Whatever it is that you package up, have a nice presentation ready for what you can offer. Give them a “contractor rate” , whatever will make sense for you. – knowing that they will be a repeat customer.
Build the Relationship
The next step, is about building relationships. Some are instant & some take some time to nurture. You might hit it off when you first meet or you might need time to build a friendship and trust. You want this to be a good fit for both of you.
Research and decide what contractors you would like to offer your services to. Reach out to them and schedule a meeting to talk about how you can benefit their company.
When meeting with a potential contractor, make sure to:
- Ask them what their pain points are in their projects. Listen to how they explain “the disconnect” in their process.
- Offer them the solution by showing them what you can do for their clients. Have a presentation!
- Give them a good rate if they are purchasing design time for their client.
- Package or Bundle the service so you can provide consistent work.
At Monarch Lane We call it “gifting design time” to their client. That means the contractor pays us for our service and adds our fee to their overall costs. We even have a separate welcome packet and contract that lets their clients know- their awesome contractor has gifted design time for their project and here is how we will spend that time. Of course, we then let them know our Design rate for if they need additional services. And most of them do!!
One of the key points I have mentioned when selling this service is – if the contractor offered their clients the same Design Package with their projects, they would have consistency on jobs, clients would get design direction, selections would be made, proposals and drawings approved, and they should be able to do what they do best – implement the design and working their craftsmanship, leaving clients super happy!
Make it Easy!
You want the process to be E A S Y and consistent so they will know what to expect and will gladly buy your packages for the next project! So, what are you going to do to make things easy?
Here are some tips to make things easy and cultivate a strong partnership with your contractors:
- Automate the onboarding and scheduling. We use Mydoma Studio for project management & Calendly – for scheduling.
2. Batch different days to do Initial consultation, selections,
3. Keep Contractor informed often. You can send video updates, attend their meetings, and check in during jobs to make sure they are going well. The result is that you are making the contractor’s job easier, and they will send more people your way. You also will be building relationships with clients that hire you to do additional work, at your regular rate and process.
If you would like the Guide to working with Contractors, click here and we will send to you!