We're all likely in our fall routines by now, whether that means the children are back to school or that it's post-summer vacation time and back to business. Time to enjoy some time to focus on your career before the holidays are upon us, so take advantage of the season!
We're constantly adding to the benefits of membership in DSA, and we're excited to share information about a recent collaboration with Kravet on behalf of our students in the certification process “Kravet Design Grad” program and our professional members “Kravet trade accounts”. We have provided helpful links below.
Our hearts go out to those in the Bahamas and the Carolinas who were devastated by Hurricane Dorian. Anyone interested in helping with relief efforts can donate to Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen, a food first responders organization at https://wck.org/
or the Red Cross at https://www.redcross.org/
Natasha Lima-Younts DSA
Founder & President
Designer Society of America
Fall Market Starts October 19
Are you as excited as we are about Fall Market at High Point? Be sure to request your passes now! We've heard some hotel options have opened up due to cancellations, so if previous attempts to book lodging were unsuccessful, there might be something available for you now.
For those of you who have attended in the past, your user ID and password will work to request passes for the fall market. Attending for the first time? No worries! Just fill out a simple application form online to receive passes for this fall. But don't wait too long…you'll want to part of this bi-annual event, the most prestigious in our industry!
Knowledge is power and coping skills are fantastic tools!
We recently came across an informative article that's just too good not to share with you!
Written by Haley Chouinard for Business of Home, this article explores the topic of dealing with rude clients, something that, unfortunately, we're all likely to experience at some point in our design career. Here, Chouinard reached out to six seasoned designers for advice on how to handle the most difficult clients.
How do you deal with rude clients?
By Haley Chouinard
There are difficult clients and then there are those who are downright rude. We asked six designers—Sasha Bikoff, Maryline Damour, Brian Patrick Flynn, Drew McGukin, Denise Morrison and Britt Zunino—how they handle ornery clients (and avoid similar types in the future).
GET THEM IN LINE
“First things first: I constantly remind my team to set egos aside, because we are service providers. Sometimes you have clients who push you around. As with most bullies, I find responding kindly and affirmatively gets them in line once they realize you're not a pushover. After a team member recently hung up the phone nearly in tears, I
immediately picked up and dialed the client back. I calmly and politely said, ‘Mr. Client—this is the thing. If you're trying to get someone to show up early at your home or stay late working on your project, then screaming “WTF!” through the phone is working against you. This is demotivating and will create the exact opposite result that you're hoping to achieve.' He apologized and grumbled something about artists being too sensitive. I replied, ‘Exactly. That's why we shop all day and you have a beautiful home. Now pipe down and get back to [work] because I'm sending out a huge invoice.' We left the call laughing.
“Money keeps people honest. I find the biggest ‘problem clients' are the ones who want it all, run you in circles, but then don't want to pay the full cost. It's like clockwork—the ones who pay efficiently are also decisive and projects soar forward. The others are inevitable and excruciating when you don't catch them soon enough. We have lots of safeguards to sniff out the cheapskates. One good tip is a 10 percent security deposit taken up front and refunded at the end of the project. Sometimes this can be a $50,000 to $100,000 deposit. You know you have a problem if a big-shot client is waving around a million-dollar budget but melts down over a $100,000 refundable deposit upfront.” —Drew McGukin, Drew McGukin Interiors, New York
RESPOND QUICKLY AND GENTLY
This happens less to me than to my staff, but whenever I hear that a client is being rude or demanding, I schedule a call with the client and talk through the concerns and expectations for our services. I always deal with tense situations quickly and gently and try to make it a two-way conversation so that no one feels attacked. For the most part, there usually ends up being an aspect of the situation I am not totally clear on and we are able to work through it by discussing it. I find that great clients tend to have great friends and not-so-great clients tend to have not-so-great friends.” —Denise Morrison, Denise Morrison Interiors, Newport Beach, California
MEET ON THEIR TURF
“We try to weed potential problems out in the very beginning. Meeting with clients in their own home or office is a critical first step. Do they introduce you to the doorman, their nanny, or housekeeper?
Or are they dismissive and rude to those who play a supporting role in their life? If so, that's a big red flag. Our job is to be incredibly perceptive. Even if your client is on their best behavior with you initially, if you get a whiff of entitlement it will eventually impact you. Whether you become a direct target or they are rude to your contractors or vendors, it almost always causes disruption or delays due to lost morale on the job.” —Britt Zunino, Studio DB, New York
REMIND THEM THEY'RE RESPONSIBLE TOO
“We had a client for whom we were redesigning a floor plan as part of our design work. This meant removing walls and creating new ones, which always creates a lot of drywall
dust. We explained to the client that he would need to remove everything from the surfaces of tables, counters, etc. When we arrived on our first day, there were clothes and paperwork everywhere. We covered everything because we didn't feel comfortable going through his personal items. We took the opportunity to remind him exactly what our services included and what his responsibilities to the process were.” —Maryline Damour, Damour Drake, New York
KEEP ON KEEPING ON
“I always remember [Michelle Obama's famous motto], ‘When they go low, we go high.' I am in a client-based business, so I will never lose my cool or talk back. Most of the time I do not even acknowledge the
rudeness and just keep on trucking. I don't have the time or energy to deal with people's tempers—I would rather spend my time decorating! You learn as you go. I have made mistakes and taken on clients when I saw the red flags just because I really wanted the job. This biggest way to avoid a bad client is to be super-transparent with them from the beginning and see how they react.” —Sasha Bikoff, Sasha Bikoff Interior Design, New York
SEE THEIR TRUE COLORS
“The one time I had a problematic client, I learned the importance of having the most thorough contract ever. Every possible detail goes into my contract now. My main
system for weeding out potentially unfit clients is to meet them in their home and see how they communicate with other people, and then meet them in public and do the same. Sometimes, a potential client will show their true colors when they're talking to a stranger who works in the service industry. Since we work in the service industry, it's wise to imagine that we'll also be spoken to that same way. That's been my system, and it's worked so far!” —Brian Patrick Flynn, Flynnside Out Productions, Atlanta
Interior Design Business Tips
When and How to Fire a Client
Let's admit it. At some point in our interior design career, most of us face a situation where we have an overpowering desire to quit the project we are working on. This could be for various reasons, but as business owners, we do have the luxury of firing a client we don't want to work with. So, let's talk about the process of firing a client, including how to prevent it and when and how to do it right when it needs to be done.
How to Prevent It
Always keep your eyes and ears open during your first client meeting. Trust your gut! At this stage you need to understand whether you are a good match with this potential client. It is more or less the same as going on a first date. Some red flags to pay attention to:
• For some reason―sometimes even inexplicable―the person seems unpleasant.
• Your design aesthetics and tastes are too different.
• Client's expectations about timeframes or budget for a project are unrealistic.
• The client tells you they already fired one or more designers before you.
• The client doesn't agree with your fees and constantly asks about discounts
When you choose your clients and projects wisely, most likely you won't need the recommendations below on how to fire them. Most of the time, all we need to do is to listen to our intuition. However, you might initially believe it's a good fit but later start experiencing some of these signs that indicate it's time to quit the project.
Time to Say Goodbye
• Inappropriate behavior such as displays of rudeness, arrogance and disrespect toward you.
• The client is never happy with any ideas you propose.
• The client tends to micromanage you, a situation that can challenge your confidence and even destroy your business from within. (Ideally, every newly completed project should boost your self-confidence as a professional and make you feel more empowered!)
• The client is constantly breaking terms stated in your contract, e.g. number of revisions, timeframes, etc. This also includes clients that fail to pay on time, requiring you to chase them down for money they owe you.
• Your work on the project no longer brings you joy or satisfaction but rather leaves you emotionally drained or frustrated.
• You tried to repair the relationship, but it doesn't improve.
How to Fire a Client
First, make sure all your design agreements allow you to have an “out” when the relationship/project becomes impossible. Next, put it in writing, making the statement professional, polite and to the point. Explaining why you've determined you can't provide them with the best value right now. For example: The contract provides for only three revisions and you can't efficiently work on a project if constant changes are made. Or perhaps state that you can't provide solutions that they are happy about, etc. Recommend someone else.does she mean recommend someone else specifically or just recommend they find another designer on their own? If I'm firing a client, I don't think I'd want to send them to another designer I know. Make sure you don't call out your client on social media. It's not professional, and your clients might find out.
Learn from your mistakes and move on! I hope this was useful. If you haven't read my Marketing for Interior Designers eBook, check it out soon. It's full of practical and effective tools to grow your interior design business.
I am originally from Moscow, Russia but I consider myself to be an “international” person. My mindset is not limited by national boundaries, and I like to explore different countries and their cultures. After my graduation, I didn't want to settle down in Moscow as I had a huge desire to “see the world”. That's when I moved first to the Maldives and then on to the Seychelles. At that point in time, I felt like Marco Polo discovering exotic and unusual destinations. These were wonderful moments in my life and a fantastic experience. After living almost five years on the islands I decided to return to the “Big Land” where I didn't stop traveling and exploring different countries – Azerbaijan, Armenia and Latvia were on my list. Since 2017 I have lived and worked in Marbella, Spain.
I must say that my path towards becoming an interior designer has been very meandering. Having been busy for many years in the hospitality industry and in the sales and marketing field, I was far away from realizing my long-standing dream. Finally, in Baku, Azerbaijan, fate gave me the chance and I grabbed it. I enrolled in KLC School in London to study for a Diploma in Interior Design. Six months later I launched my interior design blog – L'ESSENZIALE. I don't regret that it took me so long as I felt that my experience in sales and marketing continues to assist me with my blog, and the rich and vibrant nature of the tropical islands which I observed for such a long time has assisted me in finding reflection in my interior design work.
Kravet Design Grad Program
We're pleased to announce that through a recent collaboration between Designer Society of America and Kravet Inc., DSA students enrolled in either the RIDQC or the RIDE certification programs are now eligible to apply for the Kravet Design Grad Program. This program isn't open to just anyone and we're pleased that students enrolled for design certification are now qualified to apply for this special opportunity.
Grad Students First Trade Account
We're here for you.
Kravet Inc. is dedicated to partnering with the interior design community, providing unparalleled quality products and customer service, through our brands Kravet, Lee Jofa, Brunschwig & Fils and GP & J Baker.
As an industry leader for more than 100 years, we focus on excellence in the areas of service, product, education, relevant design content and social responsibility consistent with the needs of our customers. Trade Application