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8/8/2014

Part 1 of a GENESIS® Free Thinking Blog series

Pool Design article by Brian Van Bower, SWD Master, GENESIS® Ambassador & Co-Founder

One of the fascinating things about working with the different types of clients we encounter as pool and spa designers and contractors is that we can never really know what to expect.

If my years of experience have taught me anything, it’s that perception is often very different from reality. Instead, what I find is that the basic assumptions we might be inclined to make about different “categories” of clients are, often as not, completely confounded by the uniqueness of every situation.

As a result, working effectively across a range of project types and client economic levels means being able to withhold judgment or at the very least avoid acting on the assumptions we can’t help carrying with us. The truth of the matter is that our prejudices may help at times, but it’s just as likely that they’ll make us miss the mark.

Striking the balance between those two opposing positions can be tricky if you don’t keep an open mind.

A WIDE RANGE OF CLIENTS

Using my own practice as an example, I’m proud of the fact that we often work on elaborate, creative designs for well-heeled clients with spectacular homes and seemingly unlimited budgets. Some of these clients live in exotic places such as, Greece, Thailand, Africa, Bermuda, Jamaica, Bonaire, Curacao, just name a few of our current project locations.

These are the projects that capture the most attention, which is why I use them to promote additional business. They’re also the ones that enable us to stretch the artistic envelope and often involve us in team efforts directed at achieving the ultimate in water environment and exterior living space design.

At the same time, I’ve been noticing lately that we’re tackling lots of design projects at much lower levels with respect to budgets and project scope. These are clients who want pools that will cost less than six figures but who are also interested in having the project detailed beautifully and designed reliably. In fact, a great many of these “mid-range” clients are more than willing to pay thousands of dollars just for the design work, adopting a set of values for their projects that were once thought to be found only in working with the “private-jet crowd.”

Even ten years ago, the mere thought that a middle-class consumer would pay a separate fee for a pool design was laughable, and for years I faced an uphill battle convincing clients that they should pony up and that the investment would be worthwhile. It wasn’t too long ago that pools were thought to be only for the well to do. That has been changing at different speeds in different parts of the world. Things have changed, so much so that these days any presumption that quality, custom design is the exclusive province of high-budget projects should be completely discarded.

Obviously, moderately priced projects aren’t going to have the bells and whistles or spectacular materials of their more fully realized cousins, but many do include premium elements such as the all-tile interiors I’ve been proposing for years, and I always make it a point to make these options available to people you might not think would be open to spending that kind of money.

Time and time again, in fact, I’ve found that by releasing my own thinking from the usual assumptions I am consistently surprised by what people want and are willing to buy to elevate their projects. By the same token, I’ve also run into well-to-do clients with more money than taste and who crave designs that are so unbelievably elaborate that the work suffers. Sometimes these people are also incredibly difficult and demanding that there are occasions when it makes sense to “fire” your clients. Not working for everyone that comes along is an empowering step in your personal development. As my partner in GENESIS® , Skip Phillips, says when he gets a “bad fit’ in a client, “they are NOT my client.” Meaning that knowing not everyone is the right fit for your level of performance.

It’s something of a paradox, but I think all of us would benefit from opening our minds and questioning what we might naturally think about working with people at different economic levels.


Brian Van Bower, SWD Master, GENESIS® Ambassador & Co-Founder

Brian Van Bower

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


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