Last week I received several inquiry phone calls and I just had to tell you about two of them.free-consultation-resized

Caller #1

We’ll call her Charlene. Charlene just moved in to the neighborhood and called about getting an estimate for window treatments in her home. She’s in a luxurious neighborhood and her home’s value was probably over a million dollars.

Charlene asked about scheduling an in-home consultation and that she was having several other people out to her house for estimates. I’d be the last one to come out (hmmm). I told her there was a fee for me to come out, and what she would receive in return for her investment.

The conversation turned interesting at this point…

We talked about why I charged the fee, why I was different, I was an interior designer, I had 25 years experience. (Yadda yadda yadda.) She said the other guy offered to send out “his” interior designer. (Hmmm.)

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She set up a tentative appointment and would let me know if she wanted to keep the appointment.

I have to admit… I was momentarily tempted to “give in” and go on the appointment at no charge. (She was so close. I mean really… how much time could it take?) She called me a couple days later and let me know that she was going to work with one of the others.

Caller #2

Let’s call her Holly. I received a call from Holly who when we had the exact same conversation about my fee to come out to her home, she said.. “Oh that’s fine. I understand. Your time is valuable, and I really want to support local business. When can you come out?”

When I met with her at her home, she had some ideas as to what she wanted, but was very open to new ideas, motorization, new fabrics, and a variety of treatments for her home.

After the consultation, when it was time to schedule the follow up appointment, she came out and handed me a handful of cash for the consultation. How lovely is that? She was trusting and respectful, open and ready to invest in lovely new window treatments for her home. She didn’t even blink when it came to paying me for my time, expertise and services.

Here are my thoughts…

But, here’s the gist… and I’m going to be vulnerable here.

After talking with Charlene, it felt like I was back in 5th grade, on the playground in front of all the other kids silently pleading… “please pick me” for dodge ball, but inevitably being one of the last chosen. It didn’t feel very good back then, and it didn’t feel very good to have to justify what I offer and my value. Charlene did not value my expertise, experience, my eye, etc. What she valued was FREE advice.

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On the other hand, working with Holly has been EASY and delightful. I felt so much more motivated to work harder for Holly and to provide her with an outstanding experience. She trusted me and she valued my expertise. It made me appreciate Holly all the more and I want to work with more clients like her.

Sometimes it takes having the courage to “let go” of the Charlene’s of this world so there’s more room for the Holly’s.

Do you offer free in-home consultations? Why or why not?

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