A: I often think we remodelers are therapists as much as we're craftsmen. Therapists know the biggest cause for stress is feeling overwhelmed. The remodeling process, with its growing number of product decisions, can easily overwhelm. Clients rely on us to help them make the right decisions.
To help your clients feel less stressed, control the selection process like you control the selling process. Set an agenda. Highlight the selections that drive other decisions and focus on those first. Explain to clients that certain decisions need to be made by certain dates. Tell them the process can be taxing and that you're there to be their guide — to make it not only painless, but fun.
After you've established an agenda, attach a timeline to decisions. Explain products, alternatives, finish options, and warranties in such a way that clients can make the best possible decision. Don't be afraid to recommend or suggest. Remember, if you don't control the selection process, the project will probably get off track. —Mark Richardson is president of Case Design/Remodeling, Bethesda, Md. (301) 229-4600; firstname.lastname@example.org.