In speaking with potential clients about their desire to have us complete an aging in place renovation for them, 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 determine their intentions, a good way to gain some insight is to learn when they would want us to begin their project. The closer that date is 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 in the gathering information or thinking about it phase.
Some people are going to have a more urgent need for a renovation or modification 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 – the sooner the better – 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 or social worker, a veteran’s group, a referring healthcare professional, an insurance adjuster, an attorney, a case manager, or someone else who is looking out for the interests of their client, the chances are much higher of bring 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 professional or agency, and the job needs to be undertaken and completed as quickly as possible. 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 they have been referred to us by a caregiver or responsible agency and their need has already been described or determined, it is more difficult to get the go-ahead from 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 – especially immediately.
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 for us to get started working on it for them, we often get an answer that doesn’t tell us very much.
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 and they mention a general date. So, we think to ourselves that this is when they want their new kitchen, bathroom, entrance, or remodeling project to be completed – but, did they really say this?
Actually, there is no way to tell without asking additional questions. We think we know what they meant, but it could have several different meanings. It might mean that this would be a good time to decide on what they want to do instead of having it finished by then. It might mean that this is when they will start to get serious about making a decision. It might mean that other issues that they are dealing with in their lives (that they haven’t told us about) will be resolved by then – at least to the point that they can consider moving forward with us. It might mean that this is when they will have the money to commence the project. It could have other meanings as well.
While we think we have asked a good closing question to get the clients to commit to moving forward with their project, they may have given us a coded response that doesn’t mean anything like it sounded to us. They knew what they meant by their answer, but we didn’t. Therefore, we must ask them exactly what we want to know, such as when they would like to begin enjoying the benefits of their new design. Then, we can use their answer to discuss timing and scheduling with them.