Saturday, April 6, 2013

Help Me Help You: An Open Letter To My Clients

I love you all.  Really I do.  But there are times I feel we get lost along the way to designer-client bliss.  So in the interest of keeping our relationships going strong I'd like to discuss a few things that sometimes get forgotten along the way.  I know it's a bit of a risk, but the strongest relationships always grow from risk.
  1. I cannot read minds.  I realize my ability to anticipate certain needs or desires you may have for your project may appear to come from some sort of super-natural designer ESP.  But it's really not.  What you're experiencing comes from years of experience in the design industry and hundreds of projects under my belt.  So if you really don't like that faucet I'm proposing, you need to tell me before I order it.  I'm no mind reader, but I'm an excellent listener. 
  2. I'm not an elephant.  Over the course of planning for your project we are going to discuss many different ideas.  Tile colours, cabinet accessories, paint finishes ... the choices available today are staggering. (That's why you came to see me in the first place isn't it?  To help you filter through all the choices and put together something that works for you and your home.)  And while we may have discussed a recycling bin for your kitchen two months ago when we first met, there is a chance I have forgotten about it.  This is why I present you with project specifications, and more importantly, drawings.  If that recycling bin isn't shown in there somewhere, chances are it's not included in the order.
  3. I'm not monogamous. As much as I'd like you to be my only client, you're not.  (I need several clients to help support my Lego and BBQ addictions.)  I promise that when I have a meeting with you I am focused solely on you and your project.  Just remember I make the same promise to all my clients; it's only fair.  So if you leave me a voicemail message or an email and I don't respond right away, please understand that I'm not ignoring you.  I'm just giving another client the same attention you'd expect.
  4. HGTV does not represent real life.  Ty Pennington is not going to descend upon your home with his crew of thousands to get your new bathroom completed in 48 hours no matter which members of your family are coming to stay for the weekend.  If the quartz countertop you selected has been discontinued, no amount of coercion by me is going to get the manufacturer to make you just one more sheet.  The drywall mud is not going to dry faster and the tile setter can only work so many hours in a day.  I am a professional, and I hire professionals to work for you.  Trust me, we all want to do the best work possible; work we can be proud of.  But sometimes things happen and the best I can do is promise you we will work as hard as we can to remedy the situation.
  5. This is a business for me.  Designing your kitchen, bath, home office, etc. is my business, so at some point I'm going to be asking for money (to support the aforementioned Lego & BBQ addictions).  When we sign contracts and agree on the scope of work we'll also agree on how much you'll pay me, how you'll pay me (per hour, flat fee, etc.) and when you'll pay me.  If something creeps up that falls outside the agreed upon scope of work I'll discuss any additional costs before we proceed.  All I ask is that you honour the agreement we made when we signed the contract.  Remember that by the time I've invoiced you I've likely already paid for materials and labour.  I realize these projects are expensive.  They are for me too.  
I hope you can read this with an open mind and an open heart and know that I only want what's best for us all.  If you feel there's a better way to improve our relationship or some other issue I've missed I'd love to hear it in the Comments section below.

Warmest regards,


  1. Raina @ If the Lamp Shade FitsApril 7, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    Amen. Also, HGTV is the devil.

  2. Too often clients fail to take responsibility for their decisions. Great Open Letter.


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