Chantel’s Little Black Book
Editor’s Note: In August, Ira kicked off his new series of educational columns. This month, Ira focuses on the importance of building a Secrets List—an arsenal of strategies and tradespeople—that helps build consumers’ confidence in your ability to get the job done.
Why a Secrets List Is Important
Talk at length with any good designer, and you’ll find she has a collection of “insider” tips and tricks. The stucco guy from Sicily. The drywaller who does touch-up work at the local art museum. Designers, because they are consultants and not tradesmen, must assemble a cadre of great resources in order to create their vision. What’s a “great idea” if it can’t be executed properly?
So when Chantel meets a prospective client, she quickly brings up her secret list of tradesmen.
“I know you want to use stucco in this room, and I know this great Italian stucco artist—he’s to die for—straight off the island of Sicily. He only does work for the best clients, and I use him for my special projects. He always gives me preferential treatment, and discounted pricing. We’ll absolutely use him on this project!”
By talking up the stucco artist, Chantel proves she’s an expert, and since she “owns” this resource, the client understands she only has access to the stucco guy if she uses Chantel.
You need a Secrets List, too. One that includes the same tradespeople, including drywallers, stucco guys, cabinetmakers—even specialists, like faux painters and lighting designers. Develop and hone this list. Tell these tradespeople you’ll be referring them. Make sure they understand the AV business and its peculiarities.
Chantel also has a list of secret money-saving tips, like how to get European fabrics for half price and have them sewn into curtains by a local seamstress. And how to use inexpensive industrial materials – like cork sheeting, aluminum, metal mesh fabric – in residential applications. As Chantel talks with her prospective client, she pulls out one or two of these money-saving secrets and offers them up for consideration.