October 12, 2021
Dave WrightI’ve probably written about this before, but I was reminded this week about how foundational trust is in everything we do.  

I recently met with a client we had built a project with before. They have moved into a bigger house and missed the pool and backyard from their previous home where we first worked together.  

My design process includes a lot of collaboration with the client, and we were in the middle of a discussion on budget. Early on, I gave them my rough estimate on where this project would land based on their needs and wants. However, their budget was about 40 per cent less than the cost. Together, we trimmed the non-priority wants from the design and landed on a project scope  we were all happy with. There were still tweaks required, but the construction schedule forced us to proceed with a design that was not fully worked out.  

I presented a budget with allowances and optional phasing to allow them to hold off on some items, so they could stay closer to their original budget. The client looked at the numbers and asked me some detailed questions. He then looked me in the eye and said: “Do it all.”  He qualified his statement by saying he had never regretted spending money on quality products. He only ever regretted not spending enough, then wishing he had.  

We don’t get this kind of customer every day, but I realized he trusted our process and my honesty. I could have trimmed the project back to their budget, and he would have regretted setting the limit. He trusted me to deliver a thought-out design that included their priorities as a family. It was my job to listen closely, and combine what I heard from them with my experience and knowledge, to create the backyard of their dreams.  

As I walked out to my truck with the deposit cheque, I reflected on how I just sold a job that was only 85 per cent worked out and that I had to maintain their trust by getting it to 100 per cent by the time it was going into the ground. Now it is up to my team to live up to that expectation. There is a lot of trust being thrown around. My client trusts us to deliver based on an idea and our previous work; my team trusts that I designed something buildable in the estimated timeframe; and I must trust my team to pull it off. 

In this case, our trust advantage is previously completing a project for the client. I have seen my team grow, learn and improve since the last project we did with them, but the complexity of our projects have increased. At the core, I believe my team can do it and trust them to pull it off. We often say that trust is both built and earned. Indeed, trust has to be mutual, but at some point, someone has to take the leap to get that chain of trust going. I think maybe it begins with believing in your own capabilities and the talent you’ve surrounded yourself with.

I challenge you to find these niche clients that trust you to do what you are good at, and to build a team that earns your trust to build and maintain your exceptional projects.
Dave Wright
LO President