How do you know a client isn’t right for you?

Judging when to say no to a potential client requires confidence, diplomacy and tact. We asked five designers—Todd Raymond, kaitlyn loos, Katie Davis, Kara Adam and Melinda James-how they assess whether a customer is (or is not) the right person.

Todd RaymondCourtesy of Studio Todd Raymond

Real talk

“We only refuse a client for several reasons. First, they have an unrealistic timeline or deadline for us to complete the scope of work; or two, our aesthetic doesn’t fully align. Some clients came to us with a very specific idea of ​​what they already wanted, and [we] feel that we will not be able to add our stamp to the project. —Todd Raymond, Studio Todd Raymond, New York

How do you know a client isn't right for you?

kaitlyn loosCourtesy of Kaitlyn Loos

Quick Quiz

“As a sensitive person and business owner, I am constantly thinking about what is right for the client and for myself. So when more ‘internet strangers’ started asking about my services, I decided to implement a service matching quiz to properly connect these potential customers to the services that would be best for them. It’s less about saying no and more about finding a solution that works for both parties. Most people [that I encounter] today, regardless of property value, don’t really need a full-service design. I’m actually in a season where I’m saying yes to a lot of consulting or virtual one-day projects, which sees me helping volumes of people make key design decisions for their homes, but in a short amount of time. —Kaitlyn Loos, Kaitlyn Loos Design, Ocala, Florida

How do you know a client isn't right for you?

Katie DavisMelissa Fitzgerald West

fit first

“We usually find out the needs and wants of a potential customer. Our business focuses on homes and large-scale spaces, and sometimes that just doesn’t work out for an individual or family’s needs. We explain ourselves and, [if it’s not a fit, we] refer the client to another local designer who may offer a different scope or better meet their needs. » —Katie Davis, Katie Davis Designs, Houston

How do you know a client isn't right for you?

Kara AdamMichael Hunter

listen to them

“We are more of a turnkey operation – from soup to nuts – so often people come to us to design a single piece, and we have to turn them down. The vast majority of the work we do is an entire house. We explain our process and tell them we don’t have the bandwidth or it’s not the right solution. Even though everything is done over the phone, a personal touch is extremely important to me. For someone who is not a good candidate as a client, we always listen to them and find out exactly what they are looking for. —Kara Adam, Kara Adam Interiors, Dallas

How do you know a client isn't right for you?

Melinda JamesJhane Huang

honesty hour

“I rarely turn a client down unless I feel like they really wouldn’t be a good fit for the company, and that would be because there was a personality difference or the project wasn’t compatible with the direction the company is taking. When this rare occasion occurs, I believe that honesty and integrity are always the best policies. —Melinda James, M. James Design Group, Houston

Home page image: A living room designed by Todd Raymond | Adrian Gaut

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