The New Normal – Virtual Consultations
“There is only one way to survive and thrive when faced with circumstances out of our control and for which we are unprepared: ADAPT”. – Charles F Glassman
As any parent will attest, the symbol of McDonald’s, the “golden arches”, is instantly recognizable. Success like this is the result of hard work and an effective business plan. In fact, the McDonald’s company “has created one of the greatest business models to follow”. Their ability to adapt is one of the 8 things that has led to their global dominance.
With restaurants in 119 different countries, McDonald’s has always observed global trends and national markets. For example, as consumers began to adopt healthier eating habits, McDonald’s scrapped their larger portions and introduced a more health-conscious menu. Today, with a net worth around $106.4 billion, McDonald’s continues to adapt to the surge in vegetarians, vegans and a desire for more plant-based foods.
Covid-19 has changed our lives both personally and professionally. However, with a nod towards the McDonald’s business plan, adapting to these unprecedented circumstances can ensure both you and your company continue to thrive. What does this mean for your business in Home Staging, Feng Shui, Professional Organizing, Decorating & ReDesign, and Event & Wedding Planning?
You must learn to adapt to a world of social distancing and virtual contact; you must begin to conduct your business virtually. By completing virtual consultations, you can continue to offer your clients the excellent service you have been known for.
The New Normal:
Regardless of the type of business you own, Covid-19 has created a ‘new normal’. For the time being, all services must be handled virtually, including your consultations. However, an inability to view a client’s home in person does not need to impact the benefits that you offer. In fact, your virtual consultations can be just as detailed and specific as your physical consultations.
Technology, such as live video communication, can be utilized in order to view the space and consult with the client in real time. Following the ‘walk-through’, you can finish filling out the Consultation Report, and email it to the client upon completion. Once the report has been emailed, you can follow-up with the client to discuss full-service options. As with any consultation, you can offer a fixed price, and payments can be made via etransfer or credit card.
The virtual consultation:
Once contact has been established with a client, the virtual consultation begins with an agreed upon date and time. After the appointment has been scheduled, you can determine what platform will be utilized for the video call. The best technology for this is Zoom. Zoom is a multi-platform business communication tool with many benefits. It allows you to ‘meet’ with your client using integrated audio features, wireless or wired-in technology, and live video conferencing.
Clients are invited to the consultation via a link with a specific meeting ID number. They can click the link to join the event, either on their phone, tablet or laptop. Once both you and your client are ‘live’, the walk-through can begin. Similar to a regular consultation, the client is encouraged to walk through their home, showing each room in detail.
The video communication is live and interactive, just as it would be if it were in person. As you virtually move throughout the home, you can engage and build rapport with your client, and discuss your observations and recommendations while making note of the details on the consultation report.
Another benefit of using Zoom, is that you can record the video conference. This enables you to review the meeting while completing the consultation report. This feature of your virtual meetings is a benefit not enjoyed in regular consultations. Having the ability to review the conversation enables you to provide invaluable, specific details in your report, you might otherwise have missed.
Zoom however, is not the only platform that can be utilized for virtual consultations. FaceTime is a great format if the client owns an Apple product such as an iPhone or an iPad, and Skype is a good alternative for those who own Android devices.
The benefits of virtual consultations:
These full-service, live interactions enable you to develop rapport, build a relationship, and set the foundation for providing an estimate for full-service later. Even after life has returned to a less-virtual existence, you can offer virtual consultations as part of your services. Having the ability to consult from anywhere, enables you to promote your business outside of your neighbourhood. Think big: imagine offering your consultation services Canada-wide!
The key ingredient in your consultations remains unchanged: your expert advice. Imparting your knowledge and experience both during the live interaction and in the detailed consultation report, enables you to charge the same amount as regular consultations. After all, the only real difference between virtual and physical consultations is the walk-through. With technology such as Zoom, even that is negligible.
Covid-19 may have changed your professional life, but by adapting to these unprecedented circumstances, your success is ensured. Just as McDonald’s continues to alter their menu, so too can you.
By providing virtual consultations, you can ‘meet’ with a client from anywhere, make money during the lockdown, and just like McDonald’s, you and your business can survive and thrive.