Searching for the Perfect Customer (Part 1 of a GENESIS® Blog series)
Pool Design article by Brian Van Bower, SWD Master, GENESIS® Ambassador & Co-Founder
Despite the axiom that “every client is a good client,” we all know that some of them are wonderful to work with – and that dealing with others is a form of slow torture.
I’ve always loved hearing the horror stories about bad customers that float around the recreational water trades: The telling and retelling of these nightmares (often with exaggerations as the stories travel from ear to ear) is often a treat, and I know I’ve had my share of therapeutic fun at the expense of a knucklehead or two.
We don’t generally hear quite so much about the good ones, but it’s fair to say that most of us have lists of satisfied clients and that our experiences with them gives us much of the motivation we have to stay in the business.
What it boils down to is this: Each and every client is different and presents us with an individual profile of likes, dislikes, needs, wants, hot buttons, communication styles and opinions about everything from politics to the social significance of fly-fishing. That’s simply the nature of doing business with human beings, and sometimes things will work out very well, while other times things will go south in a hurry.
Either way, these observations lead to an obvious point: Clients are, for better or worse, the most important influence on our business, and although there are those who would disagree with me on this, I believe that knowing how to work effectively with them is every bit as important as knowing how to design, engineer and build quality watershapes.
THE BALANCING ACT
Watershaping as an activity is essentially a two-fold proposition. On one side of the equation, we must do everything we can to be as competent and proficient at our work as possible. On the other, we must skillfully manage client relations.
As I often say, our business is all about bringing joy, relaxation, luxury and fun to people’s lives. Thus, the experience someone has in obtaining a pool, spa or some other body of water is a critical component of long-term satisfaction with our output. This means that, without a doubt, we must be good at dealing with people.
Through years of talking with people in the industry, however, I’ve come to observe that a great many of us focus far more clearly and effectively on the work side of the equation and are much less resolved when it comes to human relations side of the job. In fact, too many people I know think that dealing with clients is something that unfolds by chance.
I believe that leaving client relations up to happenstance and the whims of human personalities is a big mistake. The client is, after all, integral to the entire process, so it only makes sense to approach the process of dealing with them in a deliberate (if not structured) way.
The first step in that process is understanding what it takes to foster a good designer & contractor/client relationship and working consciously to bring out the positive personality attributes of those with whom we do business.
Certainly, we cannot control the personalities of other people – nobody can. But our business is a give and take, and in so far as we can set the tone of the interaction, govern expectations and understand what makes our clients tick, we can influence every such situation in a positive way.
Sometimes that will mean making a difficult situation only tolerable, while in others it will mean taking a good situation and making it even better. While we can’t ever determine or mandate the responses others will have, we always have choices in how we do things on our end of the process.
Yes, competency in our work takes a great many of us down the road toward good client relations – no doubt about it – but in my book it’s the side where the human touch comes into play that seals that deal.
Brian Van Bower, SWD Master, GENESIS® Ambassador & Co-Founder
Aquatic Consultants Inc.
13775 SW 145 CT. Suite A
Miami FL 33186
T (305) 383-7266
F (305) 383-7266
Skype: bvanbower and andy.kaner