By Mary Holmes
I was recently asked why I don’t always use the same process and the same vendors with each one of my clients. Within the conversation, I realized that why this person was asking me this question was because they felt I would be more profitable if I created a formula and stuck with it for every client. Although this is a business for me, my primary objective is to ease the stress my clients are feeling during a very emotional and difficult time in their lives. By forcing a “one size fits all” solution on them by suggesting that I know best, in my opinion, would defeat this objective.
I always remember what one of my mentors said to me awhile back: “This is not your move, this is your clients’ move”. What this means to me is that we shouldn’t dictate the direction the process will take. We can offer gentle suggestions and speak empathetically from experience, but at the end of the day, we must respect where our clients are at and be flexible as to the process. As with my Financial Planning business, I strive to provide each client with an individualized solution because I truly feel that each situation is different, both in terms of the client’s plans and goals, as well as in terms of how they are feeling emotionally and physically about their transition.
Here are a few examples of how this philosophy has played a part in our company:
We worked with a senior client in Cumberland, ME who was in a great deal of chronic pain and very emotional about selling and moving from the home she had lived in with her husband for 30 years (who had recently passed away). At the beginning of the project, I put together a timeline of all the tasks that needed to be done to keep on track for her scheduled move date. But, there were many days I would go to work at her house and she wasn’t feeling well or just wanted to be alone – so we got off track. Although honoring her wishes created a tight timeline at the end of the project and changed the direction we were planning on going in – this was her move and she appreciated our flexibility. At the end of the day – it all worked out and she has settled in to her new home nicely.
We helped a client in Brunswick, ME downsize to a living space that was approximately 25% of the size of their current living space. I prepared a floor plan for them to show what would fit nicely in the new space. As we went through the process, the client continued to add more and more items that they wanted to move. Quite often, it was a “small” table or “small” chair. I gently suggested that these items may not fit on a couple of occasions. The bottom line is that since the client was under enough stress making many decisions, leaving their family home and many of their beloved possessions – it was best if we moved all the items on their wish list. Once we settled them in, they realized clearly that they would need another downsizing. Again, everything worked out fine and their condo now looks lovely.
One of the most common situations we run into is when a client feels strongly that one or more of their possessions are worth more than we feel we can realize for them in the current market. An easy route would be to dictate that it is not worth looking for a potential buyer and either send it to an auction (a good option in a lot of cases, for sure) or donate it to a charity (also a great option). But if a client feels a particular item deserves more individualized attention, we feel it is our job to give it that attention, e.g. get an appraisal from a dealer, attempt to sell it to an end user, etc. It is typical that the client will eventually realize that the item is not worth what they had hoped – but they are always happy we honored their emotions.
Of course, it would save time and we would have a better bottom line if we plowed through every job in a formulaic way – but our goal at Integrated Move Management is to reduce stress and make the transition process more enjoyable. And this involves letting the client have a say in the process, us being flexible, and truly understanding that this is not our move – it is our clients’ move. As always, please reach out to us if you have questions: Contact Us.