5 Ideas That Build Trust and Create a Bond with Clients Right Away

Building trust with your client is one of the most important steps to closing the deal and completing a successful project. 

“Developing trust is accomplished the same way in every relationship,” says Merry Powell of Merry Powell Interiors in Richmond, Virginia. “Tell the truth, place your clients’ interests above making a buck, be nice and show personal interest.”

Whether you’re able to create trust between yourself and your client can make or break a deal and can affect the success of the project. Here are five tips from our pros that you can apply to strengthen your bond with clients.

1. Create a Comfortable Space

Giving clients a space to voice their needs and ask questions about the process will show that you genuinely care not only about their goals for the project, but also about their concerns. “It’s important to be very gentle with clients. They are paying a lot of money to hire you, so it makes sense that they might be nervous and have a lot of questions,” says Annie Santulli of Annie Santulli Designs in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. “Get to know the family, joke with them and let them know they can call you with questions. Listen to what they have to say and what they want from this project. Clients choose professionals who make them the most comfortable.”

2. Manage Expectations From the Start

Spending time to educate clients on what they can expect shows them you’re willing to take the time to address any questions they might have. Providing realistic project timeline and budget estimates, showing examples of prior work and using tangible items such as paint chips and sample building materials will allow clients to see you as a helping hand rather than someone just trying to get the job done. 

“Meeting clients’ expectations starts with setting realistic expectations, which I do by educating the client,” says Mark Worley of Worley Construction in Tallahassee, Florida. “I explain the process associated with each of my three phases — design, permitting and construction — and give the client a realistic timeline for each phase. I’ve learned it is better to underpromise and overdeliver because I’d rather exceed expectations than miss expectations.”

3. Be Transparent About Finances

Talking about money can be uncomfortable, but telling clients the cost of similar jobs and building materials can show them you have nothing to hide.

“I tell my clients up front that I charge for the cost of materials plus a percentage on products if they purchase through me. I tell them that the profit I receive will pay for my time ordering and managing that item as well as dealing with any issues that arise,” says Kelli Richards of Kelli Richards Designs in Montreal. “This is spelled out in the contract, and I will make copies of the receipts if they ask. Since I started doing this, I feel much closer to my clients because everything is out on the table and I feel that they trust me more. Most of my clients have been completely understanding and realize what they are getting for the price they pay.”

4. Respect Their Ideas

Putting your clients’ design preferences before your own will help them understand that you’re willing to deliver what they want for their space, even if it means addressing some difficult requests or design challenges.

“Respecting a client’s design decision, even if you don’t agree with it, lets the client know you ‘get’ them,” Powell says. “I have found that my clients prefer I help them discover their style instead of imposing my style on them. No matter how much I may insist on a certain way of doing something, the final decision is always the clients’. It’s their money, their home and ultimately their decision. It’s better to figure out how to incorporate their idea rather than part ways.”

5. Set Specific Targets (and Hit Them)

Once work gets underway, following through on your promises is important to keeping clients’ trust.

“I build trust by responding quickly to questions and always including a specific time frame in my answers,” says Yekii Killion of Black Cat Interiors in Redmond, Washington. “I’ll tell my clients ‘I will have a proposal to you by Friday’ or ‘I will send sofa options within the $2,000 [to] $3,000 price range by Thursday,’ and I’ll always meet those deliverables. After the first few deadlines are reliably met, clients will start to see you mean what you say, and that goes a long way.”

Tell us: Do you have any other practices for building trust with clients? Share them with us in the Comments.

This story was written by the Houzz Industry Marketing team.