Christina Kittelstad is a tutor of QC Design School and an accomplished color consultant, home stager, and painter. Her work has been featured on HGTV’s show, “House Hunters”. She’s also the owner and lead color consultant for Spiral Design Color Consulting. Christina is best known for creating beautiful, functional spaces through the use of color, and creating a sense of style and personality that’s as unique as each of her clients. Today, she reveals 6 tips for acing your assignments in QC’s Color Consultant Course!
Going Virtual in 2021
In 2021, the need to meet the demands of a shifting world is more important than ever before. As a certified color consultant, you can do this by taking advantage of new, innovative ways to work with clients and conduct business. Virtual services (a.k.a. e-design) have proven to be an excellent option.
Most design services can be provided digitally, and color consultations are of no exception. By offering clients virtual design and color services, your business can stay relevant. You can also continue increasing your project opportunities! This is because you have the freedom and convenience to meet clients where they are.
Thus, it literally becomes possible to provide your expertise on almost any interior or exterior project – no matter where you or your client are in the world.
So, let’s break down what a virtual color consultation is and share some great tips on how YOU can make virtual color consultations a success!
What is a Virtual Color Consultation?
Virtual color consultations offer the exact same color and design services provided during in-person or in-home consultations. The only real difference is that everything is done via phone or video chat. The process simply involves a few tweaks and adjustments. This way, the consultation can be accessible and convenient for your clients.
Standard Color Consultation vs. Virtual Color Consultation
During a standard color consultation, a color consultant meets with clients in their home or place of business. The purpose of the meeting is to provide a consultation on colors, design finishes, and overall color palettes. There is a creative discussion to help determine the client’s color goals, concerns, and preferences. Then the color consultant provides a customized color plan that meets the client’s needs and best compliments the space.
Virtual color consultations aim to meet the exact same goals, using the exact same methods. The only difference is that a virtual consultation takes place, well, virtually. This can be done through a variety of communication methods, such as email, phone, text, video, and other online tools.
How Can a Color Consultant Ensure a Successful Virtual Consultation?
Based on my experience as a professional color consultant, here are some of my top tips:
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Virtual color consultations should include one very important element: communication – and lots of it!
Without an abundance of clear communication, virtual consultations will not be a success. You, as the color consultant, are not face-to-face with your clients. As such, you can’t physically observe their home in real time and see their responses or reactions to different color options. So, you must take extra care to communicate clearly, effectively, and in a timely manner.
As we all know, communicating virtually has its limits. If you’re not careful, things can get lost in translation. This is why it’s important to always be clear, friendly, and patient. If you’re unsure and need clarification on something, follow up with your clients and encourage them to always do the same. Figure out how you can both communicate best. This could be different for each client.
Gather necessary information!
Always request photos or short videos of each space you are consulting on. Advise the client to take the photo in a place where there’s good lighting. Don’t hesitate to request additional photos or angles, if needed. This will help ensure that you are getting the most accurate idea of the layout, as well as the current lighting and colors. Plus, this will save a lot of time and keep your project on track!
As a color consultant, you need to be flexible!
Whenever necessary, be flexible. That being said, remember to stick to your general process. If you have a virtual consulting process that works well for you, stick to it. Start by deciding which methods work best for you. The ideal methods should allow you to offer the best possible services to your clients.
Create your process, tweak it as needed, and then be consistent. Saying no is okay when necessary – but remember that flexibility will go a long way, too! For example, say your client is asking to adjust the process in some way. They’d prefer to send you a video rather than photos.
Take the time to objectively consider whether that’s doable for you. If you know it’ll hinder your results, it’s okay to say no. But if you know that it won’t impede your process, it’d probably be worth it to be a little flexible and accept your client’s request. If you offer absolutely no wiggle room at every turn, it can put a client off.
Keep in mind that virtual color consultations are NOT for everyone!
This is okay! Some clients will be thrilled to work virtually, whereas others will not be okay with this format. Maybe the virtual process makes them uncomfortable. Perhaps they strictly prefer to work in-person. Either way, if you know that a prospective client absolutely does NOT want virtual services, do not push them. There’ll be plenty of other clients who will be happy to take advantage of e-design services.
Typically, clients who prefer to work virtually will be at least somewhat tech-savvy. They’ll be excited to engage in the process. The same goes for a color consultant! Not all color consultants will want to work virtually. Some prefer to meet with clients in-person and in their space, so things can be more hands-on.
There’ll always be a variety of ways to work with clients. There will always be an abundance of projects for each consultation style. So, if virtual color services are not something you’re interested in pursuing, that’s totally okay. If it is, then go for it!
Offer color tools and guidance!
Provide your clients with professional color tools that’ll assist them in making informed decisions on their project. Allow them to get more engaged in the process! If you typically send your clients a color plan or rendering, then do this with your virtual clients as well.
Assist them in finding their closest paint store to pick up samples. Encourage them to use creative online tools, such as Pinterest and Houzz. These kinds of platforms can help clients gather their thoughts and ideas on which styles and colors they like. Go one step further by offering to refer your very best painters to them for a complimentary quote.
As the professional color consultant, there’s so much room for you to be the expert and make the process fun, stress-free, and beneficial!
Being a color consultant is more than considering paint colors!
Virtual color consultations can cover way more topics than simply paint color. You and your client might also discuss:
- And more!
If you’re confident in these areas, include them in your virtual consultation services when appropriate.
Get experience as a color consultant and gain confidence!
Offering virtual color consultations can be VERY tempting when you want to increase your client base. This is especially the case now, in light of the pandemic and social distancing. However, you’ll need to be honest with yourself. Do you actually have the proper knowledge base required to offer e-design services in a successful way?
Only you can truly know this answer. But if you go against your gut and offer services you aren’t prepared to properly deliver, it’ll cost your business and potentially hurt your reputation.
If you’re a brand-new designer or color consultant, I strongly recommend against offering virtual services. At least, not at first! Of course, an exception can be made if the project is a smaller one (such as choosing colors for one room or finish). But generally speaking, working virtually requires a strong knowledge and skill-set. As a color consultant, you need to sufficiently understand:
- Client communication;
- Color trends;
- And online tools.
You also need to have a general knack for intuitively understanding what your client likes, and what their space needs in order to transform it into their dream space. All of this comes with time, practice, and experience.
So, don’t rush the process! Take your time and gain a few notches on your belt. Once you’re more confident in your abilities as a color consultant, you’ll be better prepared to take your services to digital platforms.
As a color consultant myself, I can confidently say that one of the reasons I’m successful in offering virtual consultations is because I spent over 18 years working with my clients in their homes. I know how to meet face-to-face and get hands-on with finishes. I’m well-versed in networking. I’ve developed strong communication skills and I know how to problem solve.
All of this has allowed me to improve my ability to offer color consultations in a successful way. I wouldn’t have been able to translate my services virtually without first knowing how to master my in-person skills. Without that training and experience, virtual color consulting is guaranteed to be much more challenging. In short? Get in-person experience first.
Virtual color consultations and e-design services are great goals to strive for, though. After all, they absolutely WILL benefit both you and your clients! If you’re interested (and ready) to offer virtual services, I highly recommend taking QC Design School’s Virtual Design Training Course. This 1-unit mini course will teach you everything you need to know to get started!