When custom draperies, wallpaper or carpet is installed for a client, I seem to always run into the same problem -- the client did not understand or know what to expect. How can I better assist my clients for installation day to clear up any misunderstandings before they become real problems? Answer: You are right in realizing the need to prepare your clients for what to expect on installation day. Clients really can feel like you left them in the dark even though everything is spelled out in their service contract with you. Below is a sample letter that you may be able to adapt to each installation job. It will depend on what is being installed. The first thing you need to do is sit down with your installer. Make a list of his/her requirements. In this type of interview with your installer, make clear what he/she and you plan to do for the client in preparing for this installation (i.e. move furniture, remove old materials, etc.).
In giving the client this preparatory letter, it should help you to put more details in writing and clear up any assumptions by either party.
Sample Preparatory Letter
Dear Client: Your new custom draperies will be installed on ______________. There will be obvious disruptions for which we would like to prepare you. Do not worry! Our installers are courteous, prompt and use the latest techniques to ensure a smooth installation. To make the job easier and time efficient, please follow these simple instructions and answer any questions ahead of time. * Have all the furniture moved away from the window. Our installers use ladders and will need room to work. * Move all breakable items from the surrounding work area, such as lamps, figurines, vases, etc. * Is existing window hardware to be removed? If we will be providing this additional service, please let us know beforehand. * Has all necessary painting or wallpapering been completed? * Is plastic sheeting needed to cover furniture and protect them from dust that results from the installation? * Please have children and inside pets away from the installation area. * The installation will take approximately _______ hours. Will someone be home to let the installers and designer in or out? * You will receive instructions on how to care for your new custom window coverings. * Our work hours are __________. * Please do not try to contact the installer. Questions should be directed to ____________ at ____________ during business hours. * Concerns or questions you might have before the job is installed: ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ Upon completion of the job, I will be there to go over the installation with you. Operation procedures will be discussed with you, the installer and myself. We strive for satisfied clients. Thank you for the opportunity to do business with you. Please feel free to call me if you have additional questions. (Your name, telephone and address)
This letter of preparation should fill any gaps where the client is unclear as to what to expect on installation day. You can modify this letter to suit whatever type of installation you are performing. Whether it is a wall, window or floor, you know the common dilemmas you often face on installation day. Write them down and put them in a letter such as this and you will avoid many an aggravating installation, while re-assuring your client you have thought of everything. I recommend you present this letter to your client about one week before installation to give them time to make arrangements to move furniture, remove existing hardware, etc.
Taking the time ahead to inform your clients will not only save you time, but will provide added customer satisfaction for your products and services.
Editor's Note: This is a continuing series of articles written by Sharon L. Anderson which will answer some of the many questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings, as well as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business.
Sharon L. Anderson, Associate Member, Interior Design Educator's Council (IDEC), has more than 14 years experience as a commercial and residential design professional. She has taught numerous courses at colleges and universities throughout Southern California and is a published author and frequent public speaker.