Despite what it may feel like with some clients (difficult clients), the less a client thinks, the happier they are. Clients want you to be in control. They want you to take over the project, they want you to make the decisions. They want to relax and know that you can manage this just find on your own. So, why do some clients seem to take over? Let’s discuss two possible reasons why.
The Controlling Client
Some people just really like to be in control. And there’s just not a lot you can do about it, other than decide if this is the kind of person you want to work with. No matter what you do and how you present yourself, some people just want to be in control. All of the time. Even if they’re making bad decisions.
So, I say, if you decide to go ahead and work with them, state your point, to a point. Show them what your selections are, and why. Even let them know, gently and indirectly, why you might disagree with what they think. But if they just keep pushing back, let them just learn from their own mistakes. Help them as much as they allow, and then let go. And don’t forget to make sure that they’re aware that returns and exchanges aren’t possible as these are custom items.
Then, if the items come in and they’re not happy, do your best to not say, “told ya so.” Just think it, and then do your best to make the best of the situation. Offer up some ideas on how to use the piece they don’t like in another room, or if there’s a way to “cover up” the mistake. Start focusing on throws and some pillows if it’s a sofa, accessories if it’s a table, etc. Do this and they may just be humble enough to say, “I’m sorry, you were right. Thanks for not shoving it in my face.”
The Client Who Sees You’re Not in Control
Now that we’ve covered the “controlling client” let’s talk about the other type of client who seems to take over. This client isn’t actually controlling, but they see that you’re not leading the process. So, they fill in. They take control. They start to manage the project, because they believe it’s not being managed well.
You may be getting phone calls or emails like, “Just wanted to check on when our design presentation will be happening?” or “Just wanted to see if you had found that fabric I showed you?” or “I’ve been thinking about what you presented for the kitchen and was wondering, don’t you think we should choose a different color for the cabinets?” If you hear these types of questions and comments on a regular basis, it may mean you need to regain control over your project.
Manage Your Project with Confidence
So, how do you remedy a situation where you’ve seemingly lost control? Look at your process. Somewhere in your process, you’re showing your clients, “I’m not in control.” Maybe it’s by making EVERYTHING negotiable. Maybe it’s by telling clients that you are happy to work with them at any hour of the day, including weekends. Maybe it’s by being slow and inconsistent when getting back to clients. Maybe it’s by not letting clients know what the next step of the process is, and when it is. Any of these are possibilities. Because in all of these ways you’re telling clients, I give you the power to lead this situation. As I’m not able to.
Clients want to know you’re in control (in control, not controlling). That you’ve got your act together. That they don’t need to worry, or think about a thing. You have an updating schedule, that you share with them, and you follow it. When they make a request of you, you follow through as quickly as possible, and let them know it’s been completed. You let them know mistakes happen every once in awhile, and you’re totally capable of handling it. When you discuss payment, you tell them confidently and matter of factly, “I charge by xxx.”
You were Paid to Lead
Clients pay you to lead. To make the decisions. To make the choices. That’s why they hired you in the first place. Remember that. Whenever you’re wondering if you need to give them more than 2 or 3 designs to choose from, or if you need to show them 7 different fabric options for their sofa, remember that they acknowledged their lack of design skills when they hired you.
Clients hire you because they want to stop being in control. Because they don’t want to manage the renovation. Because they don’t want to choose the tile. Because they don’t want to toss and turn at night anymore.
And sure, maybe they want to choose between tile 1 and 2, but you already made a million choices before you even got to that point. And you think tile 1 and 2 are equally fantastic anyways. Give clients choices here and there, when you’re fine with either choice. But don’t give them free range to boss you around, badger you constantly, or make all of the most important design decisions. Because truly, they hired you, so they could stop thinking. At least about design.
If you’d like even more help making sure you’re in control of your projects, go here to find out how!