"You need a touchup, a keratin treatment, and you have gray hairs in your eyebrows!" Imagine these being the first words I heard from a makeup artist/style consultant for my initial consult. I was stunned and astonished by her input. There was not one compliment, or thanking me for taking an interest in her services, or even balancing her harsh recommendations with something positive.
In my business of home organizing, I meet people for the first time for an in house consultation after speaking with them on the phone. Many of them share their pain, pain of isolation because of family issues coupled with their shame over the state of their home. I know pain when I hear it, and as I prepare for my first in home meeting to discuss face to face their needs and goals, I am sensitive to the stories they share with me.
As I wait at the doorstep or in their hallway to meet them, I smile and think positive thoughts. So when they open the door, they see my smiling face and my mother's Elsa Peretti floating heart pendant showing that my heart is in fact open. I look them directly in their eyes and extend my hand. Then I will look for something nice to say. Can you imagine if my first comments were something like…your house is a mess, your porch is ready to collapse, and your paint is peeling? Absolutely not! I look for something positive, for example, "I love the color of your blouse," or "your scarf is beautiful," or "what a beautiful dog!"
I can feel their tension ease and they become more comfortable before I have even entered their home. My clients are reaching out to me because they are in need of help with their home organizing, so what would I accomplish by making a point of telling them what a mess things are just by standing in their foyer? Who would want to use my services?
Over the years I have had my share of first consults; with my dentist, doctors, and even my handy man. Each consult was friendly, positive, and fun! Yes, I said FUN!!! I am the most loyal customer to people who provide excellent and loving services to me and my husband.
So let me tell you how the consult with the makeover artist shook out. I took the highroad and kept my mouth shut. I thanked her for her input and told her I would take her recommendations under consideration. The setting was not appropriate for me to get into a big discussion in my friend's kitchen while we were surrounded by innocent bystanders who came to a home party for some food, fun and shopping. And guess what, I never called her to utilize her services.
Instead I contacted another friend who recommended me to her dear friend who owns a salon and is also a makeup artist. Last summer when I entered her shop for the first time, I was greeted as "Miss Eileen" (gotta love that southern charm) and with bright shining eyes looking me directly in the face with a big smile. During the consult she was friendly, warm, and she lovingly gave me positive feedback about my hair, skin and features. Then she asked me what I was looking to achieve. She made recommendations and we discussed options. Now THAT is a consultation. And guess what, here it is a year later and I am happy to carve out time from my very busy schedule a couple of hours every month for my touchup and moisture treatments. Now that is how a first consult should go!
In each of our lives whether we are in business for ourselves, a member of a corporate team, or a stay at home parent, we are consulting with people on both sides of the fence. Always find the good in people and share your open heart.
Eileen Bergman is a Professional Organizer, a proud member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Eileen may be reached at 973 303 3236 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2016 Eileen Bergman