The 10 Types of Clients You Want to Steer Away From

The 10 Types of Clients You Want to Steer Away From

Finding new clients is one thing. Finding people you really click with is another. But given how many hours you’ll spend together during the course of a remodel or renovation, it’s wise to learn how to spot the types of clients you’ll work well with… and those you won’t. Here are the 10 types of clients to avoid for seamless designer-client relationships.

Written by Elizabeth Brownfield

1. Poor Communicators

Communication is key with any good professional relationship. But it’s especially important with clients who you’ll be interacting with often daily, in the intimacy of their home. 

If a client is a flakey communicator from the start (not returning emails or texts in a timely manner, neglecting to tell you they’re running late for a meeting or need to cancel), consider it a predictor of how they’ll interact with you and any contractors for the duration of the project.

2. Micromanagers

On the other end of the communication spectrum is the micromanager, the person who constantly needs to over-communicate and quadruple-check every detail of a project. 

The good news is they usually make themselves easy to spot by needing to control every aspect of a project right out of the gate, which means you can decide early on whether or not they’re worth the extra effort.

3. Bargain Hunters

If a potential client wants you to find everything for them on the cheap, it’s a warning sign that they don’t understand the value of well-made goods. 

Likewise, watch out for customers who ask you to discount your rates, as this is an indicator that they don’t value your services. As one Ivy designer warns, “If they grill you on your pricing and fees, they will grill you on your invoice – run!”

4. The Chronically Indecisive 

It’s normal for clients to take some time to make design decisions. But there are those who take indecisiveness to new levels. If you get the sense a potential client won’t ever be able to make choices between the focused design options you give them, you may want to cut ties.

5. People with Trust Issues

When someone expressions reservations about your abilities as a designer or implies they know more about the remodeling or renovation process than you do, it’s a red flag that they have trust issues when it comes to working with someone. Back away slowly.

6. Discordant Couples

Your job is to design a space, not to play couples therapist. So if during your initial meeting with a client, you get the feeling that they may not be on the same page, ask some follow-up questions. Delve a little deeper into their design aesthetic(s), goals, and ask who your main point person will be. According to one Ivy designer, “Discord in a relationship is never solved with a renovation, and often leads to trouble and slow decision-making.”

7. The Impossible to Please

Unfinished design projects in a potential clients’ home. Mentions of going through multiple designers, more than one “nightmare” experience, or claims that “no one” has been able to help them. These are all signs that a homeowner has unrealistic expectations, and may be impossible to please.

8. Failed Chemistry Experiments

If your chemistry with a potential client is off during your first meeting, chances are slim it will improve. That’s what first meetings are for, after all — to figure out if your personalities are similar or complementary. 

If they don’t, don’t feel like you need to pinpoint a specific reason to justify why you’re not a good match. Trust your gut, and move on to find a new client who you’ll have better, more effortless connection with.

9. Style Clashers 

Simply put: if someone’s design aesthetic doesn’t mesh with yours and they don’t respond well to the work in your portfolio, you’re not a good match. 

10. T.V. Dreamers

Call it the HGTV factor. But some clients’ expectations are founded in reality TV, not reality. If they’re wedded to an overnight transformation on a shoestring budget and refuse to recalibrate, it’s time for you to change the channel.