Avoiding Client Nightmares, Part 3

Avoiding Client Nightmares

This week we are finishing up our tips and ideas for avoiding client nightmare situations. We discussed some of the basic things to look for and ask about in the initial client interview. You can read more about that in Part 1. Last week, we talked about clues and specific questions you can ask to further know if this relationship will work out or not. You can read more about those here. Today, I’m going to break down the other warning signs you should watch for. As you are picking out the clues and asking the right questions, also keep your eye out for these:

Other Warning Signs

  • Rapidly blinking – uncomfortable and surprised in a negative way
  • Looking down – uncomfortable.
  • Fidgeting – uncomfortable.
  • Crossed arms or legs – not open to what is being said.
  • Pursed lips or fixed upper lip – unhappy, cautious or controlling.
  • Smiling that doesn’t turn up the corners of the eyes – not natural.
  • Leaning back – distrustful or disagree.
  • One person turning away or crossing legs away from the other person – passive- aggressive.
  • Spouses not looking at each other during the meeting – watch out – they may be in personal conflict with each other.
  • Accepting other phone calls or text messages during the conversation unless they discuss this with you in advance – lack of consideration.
  • Not offering you something to make you feel comfortable like a glass of water if you are in their space – lack of consideration.
  • Late to the meeting – control play in many cases.
  • Good cop/bad cop – sometimes seen with highly dominant personalities like C level executives.
  • Wife says husband doesn’t want to be involved or doesn’t care – do not accept the appointment without both parties because the husband does care about the money.
  • The prospect agrees to an appointment and that both or all parties who will make decisions will be in attendance, and then one or more does not show up – this is a power play. It gives the one that does not show up the permission to disagree or refuse terms because the other person doesn’t have the authority to make the decision on their behalf.
  • Redlining your contract or proposal – they want it only on their terms and you will lose.
  • Too busy to meet and/or want someone to do everything for them – if they are not happy, you could be to blame
  • They insist on you meeting them at the house before you’ve agreed that there is strong interest in potentially working with you – I always suggest meeting at your studio or on neutral ground first. I explain that it is to understand if we’re a good fit, and that once I come to their home, there is a consultation fee because we’ll be discussing what could be done (Exception – if you receive the referral from a dependable referral source like a Realtor or person who only referred you, then meet them at their home as a courtesy.)
  • An executive assistant makes all of the arrangements and not the spouse – this can be a huge power play … look at me, I am so important that my assistant is making the arrangements.
  • They’ve done quite a bit of the work themselves and feel they need an interior designer now – could be a warning sign that they will shop you and they are looking for your resources and ideas so they can complete it themselves.
  • They are retired or want to oversee the job themselves – big red flag … you don’t want clients who think they can do your job.
  • Professions that can be challenging – doctors, engineers and financial/accounting types (Control and domination … smarter than others, focused on each individual expenditure vs. the overall budget.)

If you use these as guidelines, you will avoid many headaches. Please do complete your Ideal Client Profile and keep refining it. An added benefit is when someone asks you who you work with (a referral source) you can easily let them know.

You are much more likely to attract the right clients and avoid the nightmares if you define them clearly.

Gail Doby

Gail, with her team at Gail Doby Coaching and Consulting, has helped more than 10,000 designers in 76 countries. Many of them have achieved amazing results... doubling, tripling (and more) their revenue and profit... with clarity and confidence. Gail and her team build one-of-a-kind experiences, walking beside Interior Designers to help them create and implement their plans.
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  1. Magdalena Bogart on July 11, 2015 at 12:07 am

    Great 3 part article. Thank you , Gail.
    I wish I had this advice 15 years ago.
    I learnt by experience.

    Your article though brought all the warning signs together.

    Thank you! Magdalena

  2. Marlene Oliphant on July 18, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks, Gail for these excellent articles. I just finished two projects, one with a husband who turned out to be the domineering type with the passive wife. At first I didn’t notice it because she had just had knee surgery and was having pain, so I did not think anything of the fact that he lead the first few meetings. They live in SC and we were creating a vacation home for them in CA, so not a lot of personal contact. As we got into the building phase, his emails were sarcastic and he complained about every bill. We managed to finish the project while I dealt mostly with the contractor on the approved design. The other project I finished yesterday, with a husband-wife who will never be satisfied with anything. She is a financial auditor, he is an engineer. Yep, double whammy! OMG, she complained about our pricing on an invoice that was 4 cents over our estimate!! The purchasing/construction phase was the nightmare on this one. I hung in with their female contractor who had worked with them before and she handled the majority of the complaints. The results of the two baths and fireplace we did were gorgeous, but this couple continues to look like they swallowed a sour pickle! We did everything we promised and more. Live and learn!

  3. Tracy on December 27, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Great article, unfortunately you just described over half the population! Haha
    I agree with every word you wrote.

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