When clients are researching design professionals, they sometimes already have the types of skills and services they’re looking for in mind. As a professional interior decorator, recognizing who your target market is can help you figure out what they’re looking for and how they’ll benefit most from working with you.
You can show your clients what to expect from you through a combination of your portfolio, promotional materials, website, and networking skills. How you communicate your brand and style helps clients figure out whether you’re the type of interior decorator they’re looking for.
Check out this list of 8 qualities and features that clients look for in a professional interior decorator. How many of these things can you offer your clients?
1. A Professional Certification
Interior decorating is an industry that does not require certification. Anyone can claim they are an interior decorator. That’s why it’s so important to obtain a certification from a reputable school. Clients will be aware that not all “professionals” are created equal and a certification will put them at ease.
While you might be able to get a fair bit of clients through referrals, the ones that find you through other means (e.g. via your marketing efforts) will want to know exactly what your qualifications are.
2. A high quality portfolio
A well laid-out professional portfolio should inspire clients while showing off your best work. Being able to see work samples—especially if you’re able to show “before and after” shots—will help clients envision how you can transfer those skills to their home or office.
The portfolio is also a great way for a client to decide whether your personal “style” is right for them. So plan accordingly! You don’t want every picture in your portfolio to look identical, unless you actually do market yourself as having one specific style. If that’s not the case, try to display a variety of work from contemporary kitchens to traditional living spaces and everything in between!
3. Attention to detail
When someone hires an interior decorator, he does so because he wants a certain look and feel that he can’t achieve himself. Your prospective client will dissect everything you say and do right up to the point he decides to sign the contract. Do you make spelling or grammar mistakes in your emails? Is your office messy or unclean? These could be warning signs that you’re going to cut corners when designing his living room.
Always take care to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Simple mistakes or oversights can lose clients!
4. Organization and time management
Professionals in any industry must show their clients that their work will be organized and efficient. These traits, however, are especially important for interior decorators. Despite the attention you must pay to fine details, your clients will still expect you to complete their project in a timely fashion. Your responsibility is to balance quality décor and thoroughness with efficiency and effective coordination of details. New clients will be impressed to hear reviews saying that working with you was enjoyable but to the point.
Some clients will come to you with a vision of the work to be done. Others will give you a blank canvas and expect you to run with it. Either way, you’ll need a good sense of style for different rooms and you’ll also need to be on top of trends. If you sit down at a client consultation ready with three or four adaptable ideas based on different styles and trends, you’ll probably leave with a signed contract.
Clients won’t always tell you to your face if they don’t like what you’re proposing. Take the time and learn to read people’s body language and facial expressions, and you’ll be able to lead a conversation to a point where you’ll both be happy. Asking direct questions about a client’s style isn’t always the best approach. Learn how to ask leading questions in order to gather the information you need to propose a plan the client will absolutely love.
7. Competitive Pricing
Are you aware of how your pricing structure stacks up when compared to some of your competitors? You can rest assured your prospective clients will know this information, and they’ll expect you to explain if your prices are significantly higher or lower than everyone else around you. If your prices are higher because of your experience, qualifications, or by the sheer level of service you offer, that’s great! If they’re lower because you don’t have as much experience as others, try to figure out how to convey that information without being portrayed as the “budget option” (unless that’s your target market).
8. Learn more!
Knowing which qualities your clients are looking for in an interior decorator will help you make sure to offer what they need. Tailor your materials and service packages according to their expectations and make sure your prices are appropriate for both you and your clients. With each contract, practice your communication, organization, and time management skills so you can work with clients to the best of your ability!