Working as an interior designer can be very rewarding and satisfying, but it has its own challenges as well. You won’t get far in this business without the ability to combine your own vision and style with that of your clients – if you want them to be happy with the result they get, you cannot simply plan makeovers based on your own taste and ideas. But managing customer expectations can be tough, especially when you’re dealing with a big project, and your budget is limited, so what should you know about this part of the job in order to succeed?
Get the necessary information right at the beginning
The first thing you need to understand is the importance of your clients’ opinions. The point is that people don’t hire interior designers because they have no idea what style they like and how they want their house to look like. In reality, it’s usually the opposite – they want to get professional help to transform their ideas into one consistent project. But the more opinions you need to include, the more complicated it gets. That’s why it’s important to establish the most important aspects early on. And make sure to involve every decision-maker in the process right from the beginning – this will help you avoid the confusion and changes in your project later on.
Things you should ask about:
- What are the elements that have to be included in the project? Every homeowner wants their living space to be designed with their specific needs in mind, and this has to be visible in your project. Ask your customers about their expectations and the purpose they envision for each and every single room you’re designing. Is a guest room just an option or a necessity? Do you need to include a home office in the project? Separate rooms or an open floor plan? When it comes to interior design, there’s no such thing as too much information, try to get as many details as possible.
- What is the budget? You don’t want to run out of money in the middle of the renovation or end up in a situation where you have to choose between buying new Velux windows or save up to add more decorations later on. You can create the most beautiful and functional design plan in the world, but if you’re not paying attention to the costs while working on it, you’re going to run into budgeting issues along the way.
- What are your clients’ expectations? If you want your design to be accepted and paid for, you need to make it appealing. You can’t expect one design style to be universal and work in every single case – it’s important to learn more about what your client likes and dislikes. It’s impossible to create a good project without knowing their expectations.
Set clear guidelines
Once you get all the information you need, you can get to work. But not before you establish some basic rules of communication between you and the customer. It’s best to choose one specific way in which you’re going to communicate – find something that will work for both sides. Whether you prefer phone calls, e-mails, or text messages, the most important thing is making sure all the information is in one place. This way, none of the messages you send or receive will get lost. You should also make sure you know who the person you’re supposed to contact with questions and potential problems is – otherwise, in a situation where there’s more than one decision-maker, you may end up getting mixed messages and having to make a tone of changes.
Finally, there’s the issue of being realistic – you may feel inclined to promise your customers incredible results when you’re trying to convince them to choose your project. But if you can’t deliver, you will only end up hurting your own reputation. And in the world of interior design, your reputation is more important than any advertisement. So be upfront with the details of your project, make sure to offer realistic prices and deadlines.