If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.
(said so well by one of my tweeps on twitter)
This sums it up well, don’t you think? Last week I got a call from a potential client who was referred to me by a tradesman. I sit up and take notice on all referrals.
This particular client wanted to have some “wow” bathrooms and needed some help in his kitchen. I said, “ok, you have come to the right place!”. He then proceeded to tell me, by the way, the cabinetry is all built, the fixtures bought and the contractor needs information right away on lighting placement, electrical in the kitchen and what to do for countertops. I marvelled at the idea that the cabinetry was built when none of the rough in was completed. What the heck? Who would build cabinets with no field measurements or rough in? I ask, is it me??
I asked him very politely if he really needed my help because it sounded like he had a lot of design decisions made and purchased. No, he says, I need help making it all work together. At this point, I felt confident I could be walking into a potential problem situation. But, I am a sucker for someone who says, ” I need your help”. So that is how I found myself going over the next day to see this house being remodeled.
The client is very nice and desires a wonderfully designed home. But, can I do this after so many decisions have been made, the slab torn up to locate plumbing, cabinetry sitting at the house, floors and carpet decided upon?And obviously time is of the essence. Is it feasible to even try? I don’t know the answer but I am giving it a shot because the guy really needs help.
What triggered the decision to look for design help now? Is it possible that people do eventually realize a year ( yes, a year!) into the design process that they have no cohesive interior plans? This client had an architect draw “plans” but there is no interior materials or details. No “landscape” as one of my clients terms it. And how should a designer respond to this? I tried to explain to the contractor, who also is very nice and agreeable, how important it was for me to understand what had been already selected ( and paid for), the types of materials and such and what was “negotiable” and what was not….before I said a word about anything.
But as industry professionals, I ask you, how do we get the message across to potential clients before they spend a boat load of money on fixtures, flooring, cabinetry that may not be right for the look they ultimately desire? And, when do you cut bait and run?
I can’t do it myself. Not when someone is pleasant and genuine and I see for myself all the issues that must be addressed. That need to help someone, albeit getting paid to do so, is what keeps me going truthfully. Maybe even contributes to my insanity sometimes. ( do ya think??)
I will keep you posted. It is a challenge for certain but I think I am up to the task and that the client is open minded to changing where needed to affect the look he desires. I am never one to molly coddle my clients. But in this situation it is vital to both the client’s ultimate satisfaction as well as to my reputation to be direct and truthful and lay out the limitations or possible limitations in achieving the ultimate design goals.
Speak to me about how you would handle as a professional or your thoughts if you are a client!~~Cheryl
My name is Cheryl Kees Clendenon, a California transplant to Northwest Florida. Been in the interior design business for 14 years and learn something new every day! This blog is about the day to day running of a design business and the crazy clients, silly subs, vexing vendors and exasperating employees! Join us for the ride!