In speaking with potential clients about their desire for an aging in place renovation, it’s helpful if we have an idea of how serious they are about actually undertaking the project and allowing us to get started with it. This allows us to determine if this is likely to be an assignment that we will get to undertake.
While there are various ways to attempt to ascertain their intentions, a good way is to learn when they would want us to begin their project. The closer the date is that they mention in their response to this question to the day we are asking the question, the more likely it is that they are serious about getting started – assuming they have the money and that they really want to do it and aren’t just considering it or thinking about it.
Some people are going to have a more urgent need for a renovation than others due to a condition that demands that something be done to their home to allow them or a family member to have a reasonable quality of life. There are safety, mobility, or accessibility concerns that need to be addressed, and they are more likely to commit to a project than those with a low urgency or ones just gathering information about their options.
When a potential client has been referred to us from a rehab facility, a social service agency, a veteran’s group, a referring healthcare professional, an insurance adjuster, an attorney, or someone else who is looking out for the interests of their client, the chances are much higher of being engaged quickly to help them. The need has already been identified, the budget or the funds has been allocated or approved, we have been pre-selected as the provider, we have been introduced and recommended to the client by the referring agency, and the job needs to be undertaken and completed sooner rather than later. Often, the client isn’t making a decision to hire us as much as they are consenting to have us help them. The hiring part essentially has been done by the referring party.
While knowing a sense of urgency and timing to get started is easy to ascertain with a progressive condition or traumatic injury when helping such an individual has been referred to us by a caregiver or responsible agency, it is more difficult to determine for someone who may not need to act at any specific moment. Maybe we found this potential client on our own through our marketing efforts, or perhaps they learned of us through word of mouth or some other means. The point is that they are considering something but not necessarily committed to doing anything. When we ask them a question such as “What’s your time frame?” hoping to learn how serious they are, how much they have thought about their proposed project, or how urgent it might be to get started, we often get an answer that doesn’t tell us very much.
The concept is sound, but the way it is asked makes it a throwaway – it tells us nothing that you can use because the terms are not well-defined.
Suppose we ask a potential client – either on the phone before we agree to meet with them or in their living room at the initial appointment – what their time frame is (today being May 23) and they say June. Aha, we say to ourselves. They want their new kitchen, bathroom, entrance, or other project to be completed in June. Did they really say this?
What did they mean to convey in their answer, and what did we hear? Actually, there is no way to tell without asking additional questions. That’s why this is such a poor, ineffective question. We should ask for the information we want and not go for a soft question that provides no real answer.
For instance, here are some possible meanings of the response they gave – June is when the kids get out of school so that would be a good time to begin thinking about doing something (not having it completed by then), June is when they will have time to focus on such a project – to be completed sometime after that, June is when the want to be using and benefitting from their new space or improvement, June is when they will have the money set aside to begin thinking seriously about such a project, June is when they intend to have seen or considered enough possibilities to be able to make a decision, or June is when they want to start construction on the project.
- A general question about time frame may not shed any light on urgency and may only muddy the issue. We will need to ask more questions to learn what is on their minds.