Admittedly, it's a relationship like any other and takes work and sometimes it's not always easy the first time around. Sometimes you don't get a second chance with a client, but on the corporate side of AOO's business, we have many repeat clients and many chances to hone those working relationships into something that runs smoothly and allows us to take our design to the next level.
A case in point is the Calibre Awards for the International Interior Designers Association of Southern California. This was the second year AOO Events has worked with them. And the experience this year is the inspiration for this blog post.
For many event professionals, the first time you work with a new client, there is a learning curve. They don't know you. You don't know them. Understandably, they want to be assured more often than necessary. This leads to micro-managing, five times more meetings than are necessary and five times the visual documentation before making a decision.
But once you produce a successful event for that client, all those fears, the multiple meetings, the micro managing, melts away. Now they are dealing with a known quantity. And so are you. You know their needs and tastes. They understand the process better and are confident with the quality of the product you bring to them.
Once they understand that your job is to make them look good they relax. And when they do, the process becomes fun. Now you are working with a friend and they are working with a professional that does what he or she has been hired to do.
And that is what we had with Hilary Luckenbaugh and Roy Huebner, the co-chairs of the event. Hilary is Director of Business Development of the Environmental Contracting Corporation, and Roy is Executive Director of Wolcott Architecture/Interiors. We all looked forward to our meetings with them and the creative energy they brought to the table.
On this second time working together, we were able to get past those initial jitters everyone has on a first event and take our creativity to the next level. It might take a few events to get to that point, but if the tension still remains, I believe in walking away from clients who don't allow us to create a healthy working environment.
How can you have that experience I described above with a bride you are only going to work with once? Or a mother and father doing their first Bat Mitzvah? It's not an easy feat. It's important to find an immediate rapport of respect for the person with whom you are working. Yes, you will have to educate that client every step of the way, but then if you are professional, consistent and do what you say you will do, they will slowly build the trust that allows you to operate at your best. Show them through actions, demeanor and stance. And when at an impasse you might have to actually tell them once again of your professional qualities and experience and that they can trust in you.
I guess it's similar to any relationship. We all want to be sure the other person has our back regardless if it's a friend or a client. In a perfect world, that person is both!
Thank you Hilary and Roy for making this year's experience with the IIDA Calibre Awards as fun and lighthearted as this business should be every day!