7 Reasons Not To Walk The Plank Alone

Memory Making and Learning to Communicate Your Value to Clients with Sunshine Island Hero of the Month Eleanor Clarke

“I kind of have a secret and it feels like that you are part of a club and you know the secret. And you are understanding it, but it’s how you are talking about yourself is actually the secret. You know that, but the receiver doesn’t know that.”  -Eleanor Clarke, AMI SIX Member 

“Memory Making” is what Eleanor Clarke, owner of Cobelis from Dublin, Ireland tells Richard Petrie of AMI. As a residential spatial designer/space planner, she’s the reconfiguration expert. She reconfigures existing spaces mainly for second hand dwellings, people who buy dual uppers, and young couples who now have children so the house no longer suits them. Eleanor designs houses to make better use of their space for people whose houses aren’t working for them.

Escape to Sunshine Island

Eleanor felt trapped in her job of nine years, so she began to plan her escape. She identified a niche of reconfiguring spaces. People were either architects or interior designers, they were either into fabrics and finishes or building houses. No one was specializing in reconfiguring spaces. She identified a business need, but was scared to leave her job, wasn’t sure how to move forward and felt like she had no control. 

Eleanor read about the AMI course and when she watched one of Richard’s videos, she felt comfortable. Richard was a real human being, very visual and normal. 

After starting the Sunshine Island Express SIX+MAPS program in June, Eleanor says, “I know I have control of what I’m doing.  I’m definitely not on Sunshine Island, but I’m on the train and I’m a few stops in. And I’ve picked up a few good jobs on the way and I know staying on this train, I’ll get there. But I’m only just starting my career.”

Connect with the right people

When COVID hit, Eleanor took the opportunity to build a website and then waited for the phone to ring. She tried Facebook ads and joined interior design groups. Nothing seemed to be working, so she reevaluated who to connect with. She was looking for people who could help her on her journey to “memory making” for her clients.

Eleanor explains to Richard, “If you want to be rich, hang around with rich people. You’ll be the sixth richest person, if you hang around with 5 rich people. If you hang around with 5 poor people, you are going to be the 6th poor person. I quickly thought, I need to be around architects.

Have a proven action plan

Eleanor’s biggest problem was not knowing what to do.  She would move to her desk at five o’clock and sit there thinking, “What do I do now? And I didn’t know what to do. If someone could just tell me what to do, I will do it. I am very good at doing my homework.

Working through the course, Eleanor created all her offers and defined her niche. She knew she could design, but she didn’t know how to talk about it.  The course taught her to talk about why and how she does the design. That ultimately gave her confidence in what she was doing, she could add value by educating the client. She was motivated and kept telling herself “don’t stop, keep moving forward, continue taking action.”  Learning how to create a system lets her flourish and know that she is doing things the right way. 

Learn to talk about what you do

Before taking the course, Eleanor would say, “I reconfigure houses”. The conversation would have been, “this is what I do and this is how much it is.”  She’d visit the site for free, have a chat and create a small design package.

Now she explains her process including the Needs and Options Review to give the client different options. She makes a diagnosis like a doctor to help determine what is best. The next step is the design package which has choices of different levels. She’s able to talk about the “memory making process”, the design and flow of the house from the front door through to the back. This builds momentum and allows the client to fully understand the value of the final solution. 

With the ability to explain everything, you move from being a salesman of your services to a coach and advisor. The clients now have confidence in you and you are able to increase your fees (Eleanor raised hers by 200%). 

Benefit from the support of others

What I love about the AMI is that it’s down to me sitting in this room here on my own, but I have so much support in this computer on the other side of the world.  Even though my husband and family are very supportive, they can’t help me whatsoever. I felt like I was on the plank of a pirate ship and they are pushing me onto the plank saying ‘there you go, you’ll be grand, off you go.’ They would support me, but nobody was beside me.

Now I’ve got 30 or 40 people on the plank with me and they are all going through the same thing. And they are going, if you jump, I’ll jump and we’ll all jump together. This is how we're going to jump, because we won’t break our legs if we jump like this. And that’s a good way. And someone says — let’s wear a parachute. That’s an even better idea. That's how I felt with AMI.

There’s such a benefit to be with people who have jumped before you and they say actually, ‘It’s fine. And when I jumped, I made more money.

Change your mindset

Eleanor emotionally changed her whole mindset. “I know I can do this on my own as a business owner. I know I can shift and make this my full time position. Not because I have a wad of cash in my bank, but because I know that if I don’t stop moving I will gain sustainability for my business and my staff and for myself.”

A lesson she, and many SIX members learn from AMI is this: When you work on your emotions, you can work on the financial process. You become confident. You need to change the perception of who you are and learn the real value of what you do and how to communicate that value so that others understand it. Only then, will you be in a position to raise your fees.

Slow down

Eleanor’s original process rushed the design. “I’ve got a lead, let’s do design, let’s get cracking. Someone would phone me and I would be like, yeah I’ll come by tomorrow or I can come out on Thursday. And it was immediate and I felt this panic.

The LCC taught her not to rush, but to take time coaching her clients. This lets her establish that she’s the expert, the clients slow down while she is paid for it at the same time. She can take a step back.What you learn is that you become a better designer by doing it.  You are listening more,   thinking about your clients more and touching bases with your clients more … you become a better designer and that builds your confidence … and your value all the time.

Listen to the full interview and learn to communicate your unique value to clients here:

This success is all because Eleanor now realizes she has TWO jobs:

  1. Marketer of design services
  2. Designer

Eleanor Clarke is this month's Sunshine Island Hero.

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