Build a Better Client Pool: Be a Boomer Life Guard
By Rebecca Stahr, ASID, CAPS, MCSP, CAPS, CAASH and member of the ASID Aging in Place Council
Seventy-eight million Baby Boomers live in the U.S., and they are still going strong. They are the most educated group ever and the most affluent. They also are poised to be the wealthiest generation ever, possibly receiving two inheritances per household on top of their own successful earnings. They have sometimes been referred to as the “me” generation and continue to be infatuated with self indulgence in comfort and convenience, as well as the latest technology with all the bells and whistles.
Boomers are a well traveled group and major purchasers of second and even third homes. You name it—urban retreat, mountain home or beach condo—boomers love and want them all. They give you multiple chances to serve their unique needs.
Born between the end of WWII and the arrival of The Beatles, the average Baby Boomer is now 58 years old with one or both parents living and, perhaps, a child still at home or in college. Most boomers plan to continue working as they age, while still pursuing their interests in leisure, travel, volunteering and reinventing their lifestyles.
Boomer women are the primary purchasers of consumer electronics and control 80 percent of all household purchases. Women-owned businesses are growing at twice the rate of all US firms, with many boomers starting new careers at home. What’s more, they need and appreciate professionals who can make their lives easier and better. This group presents wonderful opportunities for interior designers, if you can meet their needs and exceed their expectations. This calls for providing ready solutions and communicating how their lives are improved by them.
Ask yourself, how can I make my design more memorable and meaningful to Boomers?
Answer: Save them time, effort and hassle. Solution: low maintenance finishes, easy-to-reach items, items that save steps and energy by moving to them instead of their having to go to items. Give them something that will deliver value every day, something they will tell their friends about, or better yet, bring their friends to “experience” in your home design.
With many boomers planning to retire in the homes they now occupy, they will expect solutions that work for all reasons and seasons. Forty percent of boomers anticipate that one or more of their adult children will move back with them, and thirty percent anticipate a parent will move in with them. Does your product or service offering reflect your awareness of this family dynamic? Does it include designs that can accommodate large family gatherings yet maintain a sense of privacy? Can all members of the family and circle of friends equitably use and enjoy the home, each home? This year and through the years?
Highlighting universal design home features that meet and go beyond these standards is a surefire way to become a boomer client’s “life guard,” but the treasures of innovation you offer have to be appreciated to clinch the sale. In an average boomer seven-room home, you can recommend upwards of thirty-five universal design features (a minimum of five in each room) and explain how they will provide safety, convenience and comfort for occupants and visitors of all ages and abilities to exceed their needs and the needs of those they love.
Don’t stop there. Exceed your boomer clients’ expectations again by preparing a homebuyer’s user manual and reviewing the benefits of the features they have chosen for long term well being. Schedule follow-up calls after the project installation to see if they have any questions regarding controls, cleaning requirements or multiple ways to enjoy new features.
And, when the boomer buyers are well settled, call them back to ask for the testimonials and referrals you have earned. They have extensive networks to show and tell about their experience with you and your design. What a great combination to increase your buyer pool by doing a really good job targeting and serving clients who promote you.
Your boomer clients may be so happy with your service and project delivery they may call for more in future years. You just may become their friend for life. Based on their continued satisfaction with your performance and delivery, their referrals will keep you busy with more boomer business for years to come. Being “boomer branded” will be a good thing.
Go ahead, jump into this boomer client pool and test the waters to see what kind of splash you can create. Your lifesaving and timesaving universal design tools will keep you and your client’s lives sailing through the age wave for years to come. Now that’s what you call an experience of a lifetime - many boomers’ lifetimes.