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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stand Back, I'm A Professional

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I lost a job today. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. Sometimes my quote exceeds the clients' budget, sometimes the client decides to sell their house rather than live through a remodel, and sometimes the client just decides that they don’t want to work with me. Difficult to believe I know, but it has happened.

But the job I lost today was different. The client and I got a long well. I was able to put together a colour/material scheme that was exactly to their taste, and was even able to show them I had a lot of experience with the line of European appliances they had specified.

 So what happened?

The space we were dealing with was a small 7’ x 7’ L-shaped space to work with. I had changed the original L-shaped design to utilize a more galley style of kitchen … a single wall with a standalone peninsula. All that was fine, but it was how I designed the single wall that caused the problem. Suffice to say, the clients didn't appreciate my design and decided to look elsewhere.

What I found important about this situation was how the role of a kitchen designer is often perceived in the market place. I wrote the exam for, and received my Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) accreditation back in 2001. In that time I have had to maintain that certification by continuing my education on all aspects of kitchen design. In other words, being a CKD is not just something I call myself, it is my profession.

When I go to see a professional, be it an architect, a doctor or even that guy that installs car stereos for a living, I'm not looking for them to agree with my point of view. I want their point of view. I may add some requests to the equation, but if the professional tells me that something shouldn’t be done that way, I believe the have reasons for saying so, because they are professional.

Which brings me back to the job I lost. I knew that my design wasn't what had been asked for. I tried to make the clients’ ideas work, but in the end I thought they were unsafe and aesthetically wrong. As a professional I feel I came up with the best design for the room.  My client disagreed and decided to go elsewhere for their kitchen needs.

Lest anyone think I'm bitter about this situation, I’m not. It’s the clients’ prerogative to chose who they think is best to do the work for them. My concern is simply that they may find another designer who will simply bow to the clients’ wishes and install a kitchen that is poorly designed, or worse, unsafe. When choosing a professional it’s important to remember that we’re not hiring them to tell us what we want to hear, but what we need to hear.

6 comments:

  1. I hear similar stories to yours all the time and from all varied sorts of professionals ... but trying to do the right thing and be honest doesn't always endear you to the recipient. As a result, jobs are lost.

    Be glad that you have your standards and endeavor to maintain them - in the end, that's what will matter in my opinion). The follow up is that all to often, the person who chooses not to hear the message learns the hard way.

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  2. Ah, listening to the professional...sometimes considered to be a lost art!

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  3. Amen and amen! They didn't want a designer/professional, they wanted an order taker, which we are not!

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  4. Thanks for the input you two! The "incident" happened a while back so I've had time (and Spain) to get over it. It still irks me to an extent, but nothing heals old wounds like new projects with customers who listen to you.

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  5. Good Design is always best! I am SURE to add this to my "must read" list I give to clients. It is a keeper! Thanks for writing it Arne!

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  6. Sometimes people have to just go through it themselves... When their kitchen is in they may think of you from time to time.

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