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I recently had a whole new central heating system installed in our house. During the works I realised the similarities between our trades – Maybe not so much the physical labour, but the way in which we both deal with clients as single-man businesses. Whether you’re a freelance designer or a plumber, here’s a few tips on how to professionally run your business and result in happy clients at the end of every project.
He’s Passionate about what he does
When Tim the plumber called round to price up the house works we could instantly see how passionate he was about central heating systems. He would explain the details of how the warm air circulates around each room and how the height and position of each radiator would optimise the system to keep everything cosy and warm.
When people ask me what skill I think is crucial for a designer, I always say they need to be passionate about the subject. People who are passionate about their trade don’t just do it as a job, it’s their life and they enjoy living it.
He keeps his qualifications and skills up to date
As designers we always need to be aware of latest industry changes and new coding languages to keep ourselves on top of the game. Tim’s plumbing profession is similar, we chatted about what courses he’d recently attended and what he aimed to do next. Because Tim had attended a course run by a particular boiler manufacturer, our boiler was eligible for a free 5 year warranty extension having been installed by a qualified engineer – Win for us!
While our websites don’t come with warranties, having a solid knowledge of semantics, user experience design, usability etc means our client’s websites will have a huge advantage over their competition.
He gave a fixed price quote
Fixed price project quotes are the preferred method for most freelancers, you estimate how long it will take and give the client a solid figure. From the client’s perspective this settles their mind as they know how much they’re going to be spending. Tim split the quote into one week of labour alongside the cost for parts, which meant we knew exactly how much we would need to pay the man. No worry of an unexpected sky high bill once everything was finished.
He asked for a deposit up front
It’s common practice for freelance designers to request 50% or more of the project quote up front as a deposit. As small businesses it’s too easy to get ripped off by non-payers and the affects are much more damaging than they would be to a large company. Tim’s deposit was required for the sum of the parts needed for the job, which helped keep his cash flow out of the red.
He provided extra services beyond the project
After the entire central heating system was installed and completed Tim had a little time left in his quote, so he used it to fix up odd little jobs around the house. He noticed our toilet cistern was leaking, so he fixed it. He spotted the tree outside was being held up by the drainpipe and was on the verge of falling and crushing our cars, so he chopped it down and replaced the drainpipe (in the rain). It’s these little extra services that can really fulfil a client’s expectations.
Once you’ve finished a client’s website, go that extra mile and tidy up any loose ends. For instance, if their logo is looking a little tatty, consider putting together a quick redesign for free. They will be forever grateful and it’s what makes them keep you in mind for their next project.
He did a great job, and a thorough one at that!
We knew from recommendation that Tim would do a thorough job, but it wasn’t until we saw him working until we realised how particular he was. When we were fitting the previously mentioned drainpipe (in the rain) the tools and ladders were packed away, but he noticed it wasn’t quite straight. Out came the ladders and tools to move the top drainpipe mount an inch to the right. It’s moments like this that reassured me that the workmanship on the heating system was no doubt top notch.
Every client wants the person they’ve hired to do a good job on whatever they’re working on. A great designer will carefully craft every last detail of a website, leaving no section left out. Pay close attention to the details and your client will be over the moon about their design.