Remember our analogy of building a house. In previous posts, we compared the image consultant to an architect. Then we compared the fashion stylist to an interior designer. The personal shopper is our buying expert.
To bring the vision of a beautiful house to life, someone needs to physically build the house. It’s not likely that the architect going to come lay the bricks – this is where sub-contractors come in. One contractor may configure the plumbing, another the wiring, and so forth. Hired painters will execute the perfect application of paint. The painter does not pick the color, but he can take budget and find the right materials to achieve exactly what has been laid out in the design.
Much like the subcontracted builders and painters, the personal shopper will have the savvy to identify the right resource and find the best price to place the final stroke of genius to a design.
Like stylists, personal shoppers consider personal expression. But they are also concerned with practical constraints, like dimensions of a body and measurements.
More than the other two roles, personal shoppers are buying whizzes who know how to save clients money, understand size charts, whether or not a designers silhouette are true-to-size or roomier and know what’s available in retail inventories.
They know the pulse of the retail world. The client may adore polka dots, but maybe larger-size dots don’t flatter a stout figure. What is a good alternative? Smaller dots, abstract dots, textured material? Further, personal shopper can considers and respond appropriately to maternity, curvy-sizes or other physical challenges.
Going back to the house analogy…
It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out that you may already have a house. You may already have a kitchen. You may already have enough imagination to hold in mind the color for your kitchen walls.
So if you asked a friend to recommend a talented and trustworthy painter in town, and they friend refers you to an architectural firm, you may raise your eyebrows a little. It would seem ridiculous, right?
But here, many image consultants – the “architects” in the situation – miss the mark. If your skill and desire is to consult with the client to create a vision for how they communicate visually, and you are addressing someone who just needs a “painter”, so to speak, you will not be a good match. If personal style professionals (1) do not have an awareness of the different levels of service and (2) do not have the skills to ask the right questions to identify what the client wants, they can end up wasting everyone’s time, producing a pretty dissatisfied clientele and create a negative impression of the industry.
This is what we mean by “overselling”—providing more service or expertise than the client truly needs, causing the client to unnecessarily spend money. I’ve heard professional style pros say, “But the client doesn’t always know what they need.” When the clients are clear about their personal vision, know how they like to look and feel, know which brands and colors work for them, and they simply don’t have time to shop, the best professional for them is a personal shopper.
As professional, we have to know how to listen and identify signals for what the client really wants. This is an art that takes time to develop, and requires self-awareness to distinguish how it feels to provide services for different client scenarios.
So, how can you savvy in these situations and avoid overselling or underselling?
Glad you asked! Stay tuned – coming in the next post, we will examine a couple of real life examples of providing the right level of service.