What a Client Expects From Their Interior Designer
The rapport between an interior designer and their client is filled with intricate details and nuances. With billing, designing, shopping, and every other task, all while trying to maintain a healthy relationship, can sound daunting at times. If only we knew what clients really wanted…well, I recently have found myself able to answer this question. With my own brother and his wife newly doting in a relationship with their interior designer, I decided to tap into their design affair and give you a peek into the unobstructed viewpoint of the client. More specifically, to answer the question: “what do clients expect from their interior designer?”
The client process of picking a designer can be simplified into a simple four-piece equation.
Price: The first and most basic element for why any client chooses their designer is price. Every client wants a designer in their price range, and every designer wants their client to be vocal about their budget. As the designer, try and minimize the headache in the budgeting process by being as upfront as possible with your costs from the get go. Being clear with everything budget-wise on both ends of the client/designer equation can directly lead to better client relationships and makes for an easy transition from talking logistics to actually designing.
In talking about the finances of the relationship, billing must be mentioned. Making transactions consistent and easy to pay will subdue any feelings of being overwhelmed on the client side, therefore keeping the relationship happy, healthy, and productive. Start requesting digital payments from your clients! According to a study conducted by Capital One, small businesses who accepted digital payments saw increased customer satisfaction of 73%, improved customer service of 69%, and increased sales of 68%. If you can offer your clients a way to pay you online, chances are, you’re going to get paid much faster.
Portfolio: After budgeting and prices have been established, the next element in the equation is style. By reviewing portfolios and historical work, clients are able to see that you have a similar sense of style to what they see for themselves. The best way to capitalize on this step is to ensure that your past projects are easy to access and up to date. The fundamental tool you should always be utilizing to keep your portfolio polished and fresh is professional photography. Though some may see this as just an extra expense, it makes a large difference to possible clients. Your photos are the key source for potential clients to see your talent and expertise — why wouldn’t you want to look your best? After all, your portfolio is your digital business card. Lastly, to optimize your portfolio, try and include variety from your past projects. Not only will this help clients visualize your work in their own space, but it will also better highlight your signature aesthetic in numerous settings, whether it’s minimalist, rustic, bold, or anything in-between.
Personality: Like any good relationship, there needs to be chemistry. Most clients are aware that they will be investing a significant amount of time and, more importantly, a fair share of faith and trust into their designer. Therefore, it’s important that clients find someone with whom they vibe with, a designer with a personality and work habits similar to theirs. In my brother’s case, they looked for a designer who could take the reigns throughout the project. Specifically, he mentioned that their designer held a “real point of view,” which he noted was a main reason why they hired her. “She challenges us to take leaps of faith here and there.” Don’t be afraid to exhibit your confidence and a bit of assertiveness with your suggestions; sometimes clients just need that small push from their designer to go out of their comfort zones.
Personalization: The final piece of the designer/client equation is personalization. This is when a designer goes out of their way to truly understand the client’s needs and lifestyle, and how they can best tailor the space for a better life. By going into a client’s home and learning about their life, passions, and future goals, designers can redefine the project in terms of the needs and wants of the client. No two clients are identical, and no two projects should be either. To surpass this test, a designer must be adept to seek out the desires of the client and bringing them to fruition.
And that’s it! The simple four-piece equation of what a client wants: price, portfolio, personality and personalization. By keeping each of these elements in mind when acquiring new clientele, you can better cater to a multitude of clients and households. Make sure to never sacrifice the valuation of your work, your individual aesthetic, or your personality. Instead, be proactive with each step in the equation and show that you are the only professional that can deliver everything your client has been looking for.
Written by Shai Wallach