trade tales | Dec 14, 2018 |
7 client types to avoid, according to a veteran designer

There’s always that one client who puts the word mood in ‘mood board.’ But nearly 40 years of experience in the design industry brings a bevy of client insights—most of which have to be learned the hard way, says veteran interior designer Laura Ramsey Engler of Minneapolis-based firm Ramsey Engler Ltd. “It took about a dozen years of running my own business to begin to recognize client behaviors and personality types that were a good fit for my practice—and those that weren’t."

Laura Ramsey Engler
Laura Ramsey EnglerCourtesy of Ramsey Engler Ltd.

While each designer’s criteria may be dependent upon his or her business plan or mission statement, here are the seven client types Ramsey Engler has learned to avoid.

1. The Now-or-Never Client
“The client who is in a hot rush to have the first meeting, get the first output, order things. They don’t want to give the project and process its due, and ultimately don’t understand the effort involved. Often, they flit off in a new direction as quickly as they burst into our studio.”

2. The Commitment-Phobe Client
“The client who balks at signing an agreement or paying a retainer. Why? Because they aren’t making a commitment to the process and don’t really expect to pay for services.”

3. The Faultfinding Client
“The client who has worked with numerous other designers and has nothing good to say about any of them. I’m not so conceited as to think I could please them where everyone else has failed.”

4. The Hands-Off Client
“The client who asks us, for instance, to work with the assistant or girlfriend du jour, who is often maneuvering to maintain her position and will throw anyone else under the bus in the process.”

5. The Weekender Client
“The client who can only meet on evenings and weekends. Although it’s hard to say no to a good project, life balance is important, and both sides should be able to give a little to maintain it.”

6. The Cutting-Edge Client
“The client who must always have the latest, hottest, best and most. Why say no? Because it’s exhausting, vacuous, and changes moment to moment.”

7. The Designer Client
“The client who tells us how to do our work. Common phrases include: ‘You don’t need to draw it. You don’t need to measure it. You don’t need a meeting for that.’ If they knew how to do it, they’d be doing it themselves.”

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