Keys to Project Success: 1. HOW TO WIN MORE JOBS

In the first of my ‘keys to success’ article mini-series we are going to explore a few simple techniques you can use to help you win more jobs.

We all know that clients are precious and good ones can be hard to come by, so it’s absolutely essential that we maximise each and every opportunity.

Step 1: Engaging with the client

Most if not all projects start with some kind of enquiry. At this stage by asking some carefully worded questions about their needs, we were able to weed out the people who were not going to be a good fit. If it was looking like the client wasn’t a good fit we would consider their needs and recommend a more suitable company for them to work with. We were very careful to never just turn people away.

Once we were happy we were talking to a client with a good fit we would book a meeting. Some of our pre-prepared questions were used to ensure we had the address where the work was to be carried out, the client’s full name, their current address and their telephone number. We would also be sure to ask if they had any previous experiences with smart home technology or home entertainment systems.

The next step would be to research the property being developed and the client themselves. This allowed us to select appropriate example jobs, to take to the meeting and to give us some idea of the client’s background.

Step 2: Nailing the big meeting

Next would come the day of the big meeting, where we have possibly the best opportunity to gain the trust of the client. Nine times out of ten, this meeting would be on site, at the job in question. Our role during this meeting, was to guide the client through the process of developing their needs and desires, into some tangible requirements for us to work towards. To help with this we would explore and discuss the possibilities using the example jobs we had preselected. During this meeting we would always endeavour to indicate to the client the typical budget for their property through the preselected example jobs.

Once we had presented the possibilities, we would walk through the whole site with the client noting their specific requirements in each room. After gathering as much detail as possible and answering any questions, we would close the meeting with the promise of delivering their initial proposal by a specific date, no more than a week from that day.

This is where things would get tricky! We would find ourselves spending the next few days trying to find time, amongst other client meetings, a backlog of proposals and running a business, to produce their initial proposal. Does this time trap sound like an all too familiar story? Then keep reading this and my upcoming articles in this mini-series, as I think we’ve found the solution to this problem!

A window would eventually open up in our schedule, or be forced open, in which we would set to work on the initial proposal. This had to be within the agreed timeframe, if we were to have any chance of building on the trust we had built up so far. Within the initial proposal package we would include information on how we work and at which stages the client was expected to pay and how much at each stage. With the initial proposal ready and the meeting confirmed, we would send our document about how we work to client the day before the meeting.

Now the biggest day of this client’s relationship was upon us, it was time to present the initial proposal to them! We would only ever do this either in person or in a virtual video meeting. In the meeting we would take our time to go through what we were proposing and make sure we answered all of the client’s questions.

"The reason it’s so important to do this either in person or with video is so you can read the client’s body language as you present your proposal."

The reason it’s so important to do this either in person or with video is so you can read the client’s body language as you present your proposal to them. Plus by taking the time to do this in person you are showing the client that at that time, they are your number one focus, again building up their trust.

Once the proposal had been presented and fully explored with the client and all their questions answered we would make a very important statement: in order to move forward from the initial proposal we had just presented we would require them to pay a 5% design fee.

This statement never came as a shock to our clients as they had already seen our ‘how we work’ document, which included the stages where payments were due and their amounts. They also already knew that for this design fee we would carry out all the design work required to complete their project and we would deliver this to them with no strings attached. By doing this we avoided getting into long, procrastinated, unpaid proposal revision periods with our clients. It also allowed us to convert the initial proposal into a fixed price fully engineered final proposal.

Step 3: Ironing out the finer details

Once the design was complete we would set up another meeting with the client. A couple of days before this meeting we would send our fixed price contract to the client with our full terms and conditions. This next meeting would be where we would present the full design package and the final proposal to the client. As before this would be done either in person or with a virtual video meeting. Towards the end of this meeting we would ask the client if they would be happy to pay the 25% cabling deposit.

As before we never had any raised eyebrows at this question as we had set this out in our how we work document and reiterated it in the contract we had sent a few days prior.

That’s what worked for us, could this be made to work for you?


Keith Jones studied Product Design at Central St. Martins where he graduated in 1996. Since then he worked in numerous high end audio outlets, culminating in owning and running his own successful AV installation company from 2001-2008. After a career break he started Jones designs in August 2009 which morphed into a Ltd. company called designflow, in 2015. Designflow aims to increase awareness of design in AV and help installers win more jobs and create proper documentation for them.