How to Avoid “Ghosting”: Tips for Design Professionals - QC Design School

Christina Kittelstad is a tutor of QC Design School and an accomplished color consultant, home stager and painter whose work has been featured on HGTV’s show House Hunters. She is the owner and lead color consultant for Spiral Design Color Consulting. She’s best known for creating beautiful, functional spaces through the use of color and creating a sense of style and personality that’s as unique as each of her clients.

As a professional color consultant, I connect with all kinds of people. And they all have a wide range of priorities, goals and budgets when it comes to designing their space. Most potential clients will seek my services out with a phone call or an email. They’ll request more information regarding the exact services I offer and my color consulting process. My goal is always to connect with my ideal clients and to discover which clients are the best fit for my business.

colorful decor in home

Some clients have no clue where to begin and are completely overwhelmed by the idea of choosing colors. They may have had no idea that color consultants existed until they did a Google search. These clients are searching for a color professional who can walk them step-by-step through a clear, stress-free process.

Some clients may have already color tested 50 swatches and require guidance on what to do next. Others, are DIYer’s just window-shopping and want a general idea of how the process works, what’s involved, and what the cost includes. They may discuss their entire project with you, only to attempt it on their own. These clients can be a huge time-suck, and in this business, time IS money!

Let’s talk about how to recognize this type of client, how to get your design clients to commit and what to do to avoid being “ghosted”. Keep reading!

Get to Know Your Design Client

interior design plan with color consulting

Part of having a successful color project means knowing your ideal client when you see them. Who do you like to work with? In what location? What is their project budget and personal design style? Does it match your own unique style? Once you know who your ideal client is, then you can vet them when they contact you. By getting to know and interviewing your clients, you will save precious time. You will discover if they are serious about working with you (or not) and if they are a great fit.

When I speak with potential clients, I usually know within the first minute or two if they are serious, or just gathering information and entertaining the idea of working with a color consultant. I also know if they are someone I would enjoy working with. Remember, it’s a two way street, and communication is key to securing a project and having it go smoothly. If a client doesn’t seem invested in the process and appears to require far too much convincing, politely decline and don’t work with them. It’s not worth the wasted time and energy!

Always Charge For Your Time

Always charge for your time. Seriously. I do not offer a free consultation, ever. I am happy to discuss a client’s project by phone to get a sense of what they need and to discover if we are a good fit for each other. Beyond that, I charge for my time. If I recommend colors or offer design advice, I charge. If I email color suggestions, I charge. If I view photos they send over to me showing their project, I charge…and you should too!

Time is your greatest resource and you must protect it. This will allow you to offer your most well deserving and paying clients more time and energy on their projects. Charging also allows you to avoid burn out and avoid building any resentment that can occur when you feel a client is taking advantage of the process.

color consultant advising colors from color wheel

Once potential clients know your process and how you charge, they will either eagerly commit to the process, or they will say the infamous, “I’ll be in touch”. These clients will either get back in touch with you when they are serious and prepared to get started, or you won’t hear back from them. This is actually a good thing. It means they were not your ideal client after all. You haven’t wasted any significant time and you remain open to attract and connect with those you are meant to work with.

Ask the Right Questions

When a potential client reaches out to you, the ball is in YOUR court.
This is your opportunity to ask the right questions, discover what your client needs are and offer a solution that allows to commit to working with you. Some important questions to ask are:

  • What project are you working on?
  • Are you working on this project alone or with a partner?
  • Will you be painting yourself or are you hiring a paint contractor?
  • What is your timeline?
  • What is your budget?
  • Have you worked with a designer before?

Asking these questions lets the client know you are professional, committed, have a clear process, and are ready to get started. The answers to these questions will let YOU know if the client is someone you want to work with or not.

design consultation of couple with a color consultant

Great Marketing = Committed Clients

Often times, I will talk with potential clients and I learn two things.

  1. They need professional color help
  2. They are looking for a clear reason to pull the trigger on color selection and want get started.

Some clients need more encouragement and convincing than others. Over the years, I have learned to be polite and professional. But I have also learned to be confident in my skills and the services I offer. Being confident in your skills and being able to communicate those skills effectively are two different things. This is where killer marketing is key!

Here are just a few ways you can use marketing to get potential color consulting clients to commit:

  • Include a link in your email communications to client reviews on your website, Houzz, or other social media.
  • Add a signature line to your emails that includes your business name, phone number, website link and any accolades or awards.
  • Mention any seasonal specials or current promotions—make sure these are posted on your website and social media.
  • Send regular e-newsletter mailings to remind clients what you offer and make it easy to contact you.
  • Share your online design portfolio showing recent projects.
color wheel

By following these tips, you can find your ideal clients easily without wasting precious time. Clients will discover that YOU are the right choice for their project. Your projects will go more smoothly and you will be compensated for your time and energy. There will always be clients that slip through the cracks, may end a project prematurely, or choose to work with someone else… and that’s okay! Incorporating these time tested ideas into your business will set you up for success and attract amazing clients.

How do you prevent clients from ghosting you? Leave us a comment!

Want to earn more? Here’s our guide to raising your professional design prices!

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