We’re getting a new kitchen. Which is all very exciting, but also a bit of a hassle.

And it seems I’m incapable of doing work on the house without seeing lessons about freelance life.

My wife says I overthink everything. She might have a point.

1. It starts with a recommendation

What did we do as soon as we decided to get a new kitchen? We asked family and friends who they’ve used and who they would recommend.

That’s not to say a solid online presence isn’t important, but that was the second stage for us. Get a recommendation, check them out online.

So me and Emma aren’t beating ourselves up if our marketing is a bit hit and miss, or our web traffic is low. If we’re busy trying to do good work for our clients, there’s a good chance that will keep paying off.

2. First impressions matter

Communicate well. Be friendly. Turn up when you’re supposed to. Do what you say, when you say you will. Show that you know what you’re on about. 

All this stuff matters. It’s not just about how skilled they are at putting a kitchen together. In fact, if they can’t get the communication and service right to begin with, their joinery skills are irrelevant.

3. Pushy sales don’t work

When it came to choosing a kitchen supplier, we had two very different experiences. 

On the face of it the process is very similar: book a design consultation, spend an hour with a kitchen designer while they play on a tool that looks like The Sims, and by the end you have a design and cost for your kitchen.

The first one we went to though felt like a sales process. They designed and costed up what we asked for but spent more time trying to convince us to put a deposit down there and then. And when we finally got away, they kept calling to see if we’d decided yet.

The next one couldn’t have been more different. It felt relaxed, but they also challenged our ideas based on their knowledge. Have we thought about doing it this way? You could try it like that. And so on. They ran a couple of options and quotes for us, then left us to it. We went back to them with a design we’d not thought of before and that was that. Sale secured.

Forget about sales funnels, lead generation and all that rubbish. Just try to help.

4. Filter the opinions

While you’re working out what you want, there’s every chance you’ll get quite a few opinions from different people who mean well. How they would design it, the thing you definitely need, do this, don’t do that. As I say, it’s all well-meaning. But it’s not their kitchen.

We’re all working with different budgets, different needs, different tastes.

You know what you want. It’s good to listen, but make sure you go with what works for you. Go with your gut.

5. There’s value in making life easy for your client

It’s hard enough picking a kitchen and finding a fitter. I don’t want to then have to find an electrician, a plasterer, a plumber, a flooring specialist. I wouldn’t know where to start.

Paul* has all the contacts. He knows what is needed, and when. It made me very happy when he said he can sort all that. I expect he’ll add a bit on top for bringing in the extra help. And so he should. I’m paying for the convenience and the time he’s saving me.

6. I didn’t expect everything to be done tomorrow

There’s a lead-in time for the kitchen. Paul books 2-3 months in advance. The flooring might be a couple of weeks after the kitchen is in.

Not once was I surprised or really bothered by this. I’d have been more worried if everyone was ready to start next week. These things take time and I’m prepared to wait for it to be done right.

At the same time, I don’t want someone who is unavailable all the time and makes your enquiry for work seem inconvenient and a real effort for them. (I’ve had these before)

There’s a balance to strike.

7. I’m needed too

As the client, it’s not as simple as finding a kitchen fitter and leaving them to it. There are loads of small details I need to think about and input I’ll need to give. Which way round are the handles going? Where do you want the lights positioned? Are you sure you want that there? Things like that.

Whether it’s kitchen renovations or research projects, client input and feedback is key.

*I really hope Paul doesn’t read this as I’ve laid all my cards out here about the value he’s adding and he’s not put his invoice in yet.

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