Home decorators have highly rewarding and dynamic jobs, and no two days are alike! However, it’s inevitable that you’ll run into clients who are difficult to please, and in some cases, just plain stubborn…
Many people are resistant to change when it comes to home design. It’s up to you as the professional to work through their reservations and ensure that their home becomes one that they’re both proud of and can enjoy for years to come!
Read on for a full guide to working with stubborn interior decorating clients, and put those people skills to great use!
Expect to meet all kinds of people
When you made the decision to take an interior decorating course, you had a sense of what you wanted your career to look like. That vision was likely positive and problem-free, where you could create custom interiors for clients to changing their lives for the better. You dream of building your reputation as a top home decorator.
While we love your positive outlook, the reality is that you’ll meet all kinds of personalities as a designer, and not all of them will be kind and easygoing. You’ll be hired to make changes in a client’s home that fit their style and needs, and use your expertise to make the right choices. Because so much of your time will be spent communicating with clients, contractors, and the like, you’ll eventually butt heads with someone!
The best approach to dealing with clients that are stubborn, overly picky, or just hard to get along with is to anticipate it. If you journey through your career believing that every day will be easy and that every client will agree with you, you’ll end up disappointed! Know that you’re dealing with the public in this role. Each person is unique and will handle situations differently. Which brings us to our next point…
Learn how to spot stubborn clients
You’re always ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work, but it’s important to tread cautiously. You need to understand your client (as much as possible) in the early stages of your interior decorating projects. Yes, they hired you and therefore want to make changes to their space – but this doesn’t mean they’re totally comfortable with the thought of painting, renovating, laying new floor, or any other work.
Clients won’t always tell you right away if they disagree with your ideas, and can stay silent for a while before speaking up. One extremely valuable skill to cultivate as a home decorator is the ability to read body language and facial expressions, so you can pick up on how a client is feeling early in the process.
This isn’t always foolproof, and it can be very difficult to try and read between the lines if you don’t know your client very well. But, this is something worth practicing as a design professional. If your client has any reservations about your home design ideas, do your best to tune into what they’re saying without words. This way, you can open a discussion where they can potentially voice any concerns.
This prevents issues from arising months down the line when they’ve decided against a certain change. Develop a sense of what a stubborn client looks like (someone who is set in their ways, has a clear idea of what they want and is generally not receptive to ideas), and you’ll have a reference point going forward. This is an amazing skill to possess as a home decorator!
Be ready for these situations
To help you prepare for tricky situations, we’ve put together a short list below of common phrases you’ll hear from stubborn clients, plus some ideas on how to respond.
“I would really prefer if you did it this way.”
- You’ll run into many clients who believe that their vision of the space is the right one (and only one!). They will have a hard time bending to your expertise and suggestions, and will put their foot down when it comes time to make the changes.
- The best way to handle this situation is to calmly explain that while you understand their vision of the space and where they want to go with the home design plan, you have more confidence in your own approach. You can explain the benefits that these changes will have on the space, and how they will affect their life. Remember that you are the professional, and you have an interior decorator certificate that demonstrates your expertise.
“I don’t want to make any changes to this area.”
- The resistant client is one that all home decorators will encounter. You’ve been hired to re-design the kitchen, but while you’re in the client’s home, you realize that the living room needs a facelift as well. However, the client is not receptive to any changes in this space. They won’t even listen to suggestions!
- In this case, you need to be as clear as possible about the changes you’re suggesting for the space and how they will positively impact the client’s experience. Be specific! If there’s a better color you could paint the walls, show the client a paint swatch. Maybe the furniture needs to be rearranged and perhaps even replaced – draw the client a new floorplan in this case so they have a visual guide. However, you never want to force them to redecorate a room!
“This is too expensive.”
- Your design clients have clear ideas of their home design plans, and will want high-quality furniture and décor. As the home decorator, you want their home to look and feel its best, and you will do all you can to ensure the rooms are filled with gorgeous decor. However, this all comes at a cost, and home decorators will often butt heads with clients who refuse to pay high prices for quality furnishings. In some extreme cases, particularly stubborn clients will refuse to pay altogether.
- Again, it’s so important to be as clear as possible with clients about the furniture and décor being brought into the home. Let them know how it will benefit their home (even though it’s expensive!). Many clients don’t understand different types of materials, and will need you to explain the advantages of certain kinds of furniture. Drive your points home by reiterating that the client’s vision of the space includes beautiful, durable materials and that the expense is truly an investment. Be confident in your explanations – after all, you’re the expert!
While keeping these points in mind, it’s also important to know when there is a true personality conflict. Some clients are simply stubborn and set in their ways when it comes to interior decorating costs and changes, but sometimes it’s nearly impossible to work with an individual. Trust your instincts – know when to walk away from a client who you simply cannot work with. Keep these tips in mind to help you navigate the situation as best you can!
Discover the best practices for client communication, and step up your game as an interior decorator!