Breaking Down Clients’ Decisions

April 20, 2020

By Amy Ahearn, Decorating Den Interiors

How many times have you said, “Why did they hire me when they don’t listen to anything I say?” The hardest reality of design and sales in our industry – or most likely any industry – is realizing that our clients will not “see” what we believe is the best thing for them and their project space. We spend untold amounts of time interviewing them, going through all the inspiration pictures and shopping with them for their appliances and finishes. We create amazing spaces, changing the function and aesthetics of the space so they can realize everything they have explained they want, and they just can’t move away from what they already have.

Getting the Details Up Front

We need to remember that we know a lot more than they do. When they look at a picture, they see one thing, but we see something completely different about it. It’s always been very valuable for me to ask, “What do you like? What do you see about this that makes you feel you could see it in your home?” I am amazed at how very focused the answer usually is. Most of the time it’s about one or two details and not the big picture. This helps a lot in getting an early start on the correct direction.

Change is hard. What we have is what we are comfortable with. During the process, it is important to find out what the biggest problem with their current space is. They did call you to remodel after all. Keep looping back to that with the solutions you are presenting.

He Said, She Said

This is the point in our careers when we need to remember that the decision-making process is different for every client. I distinctly remember a project that I worked on for many weeks with the client’s wife to create a Gothic-style kitchen. When we were pretty close to having the final drawings competed, the husband was able to join us in the meeting. He looked at the plans and said he hated some of the main components, and we literally had to start from scratch. It would have been very easy to get frustrated, but the reality was it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with me. Should I have been more specific about my questions earlier in the process? Yes! Should I have insisted on an earlier meeting with everyone involved? Yes!

Keeping Things Real

There are so many untold reasons why someone decides on the final choices on a project, and it’s not possible for us to take into account all of them. It certainly isn’t in any way a reflection on us when they push and pull the process along. The buying style of each client will dictate how it will go. During the process, we will be able to find the buying style of that client and guide them to the final amazing design.

As we get comfortable with our own talents, we push the envelope and have some fun, show the client what the possibilities really are for their space – even when it’s way out of their vision. But be ready for push back! Be prepared to pull back into their reality and not get frustrated or take it personally. Some of the most successful projects have been created from the balance of the clients’ hesitations and my creativity. Some of my best designs are in the pile of unfinished projects because the client did not see them. Allowing each space to become a reflection of them and their home allows for a successful business, with clients who are thrilled and telling everyone they know how great you are to work with.