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The dynamic husband-and-wife team of Mike and Mickie Cooper know a thing or two about managing a successful project. The two are the owners of Murals & More LLC in Franklin, Tenn. Mike has been painting murals professionally for more than 25 years, with hundreds of exterior and interior murals under his belt. Both he and Mickie have been teaching mural classes all over the country as well as in their studio in Franklin, and they also write The Fresh Perspective column for the monthly Focus on Faux online magazine.
Here, in their own words, are some of their best ideas for decorative artists to ensure a successful project.
1) Price the project realistically. Don't worry about the competition.
MIKE: Don't price it based on what you think the client wants to hear.
MICKIE: Be fair times three. Be fair to the client. Be fair to yourself. Be fair to the market.
2) Your price is your price.
MIKE: If you are asked to "come down a little," then you have to adjust the project to take less time. Otherwise, you are simply devaluing your worth. I just did some nice boards for a client, who barely looked at them before asking if my price was "the best I could do." Yes, it was, actually. Might not hear from her, but if all she was looking for was the cheapest price, I wasn't her solution anyway.
MICKIE: You might also want to consider that if you reduce your price just to get the project that this client might not value your work and will become a difficult client to work with (which is not worth even the original higher price).
3) Know your time frame. Stick to it.
MIKE: Mickie is the best at time management. (Read: whip-wielder.) You wouldn't believe the scars on my back from her "encouragement" at making me stay within the time I had allowed for a particular project—her version of "incentives!"
MICKIE: Stop whining, Mike (and every other artist/mural-
ist/decorative finisher who has quoted a timeframe and then not stuck to it). When we are the client for, let's say, a car repair, don't we like to know when we will be behind the steering wheel again? Set up a schedule for yourself and don't veer from it. (See what I did? Steering wheel and veer? I'm so clever.)
4) Schedule your time accordingly.
MIKE: If you have to go to an appointment during the project, be sure to let the client know. There is nothing worse than leaving a project for another project. But if you simply have to, don't just bail. Clients want to feel that they are the most important people on your agenda, and realistically, they should be!
MICKIE: Keep it simple and give your client a time when you will be back. (REMEMBER: It is more important to give yourself an extra 30 minutes so you will look good coming in earlier!)
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