trade tales | Feb 18, 2022 |
Do you meet with clients outside of normal business hours?

Accommodating your client’s lifestyle is critical, but should designers go so far as to set meetings outside of their normal schedules? We asked five designers — Vanessa Deleon, Imani James, Killy Scheer, Rebecca Hay and Lisa Davey —how they handle this request.

Vanessa DeLeon
Vanessa DeLeonCourtesy of Vanessa DeLeon

Set Boundaries

“It is difficult to steer clients away from a 24/7 mentality, and it’s even harder to say ‘no.’ Time management is an essential part of the design business, but sometimes it’s hard to set clear boundaries. One way I accommodate the client is by offering flexible dates and times within office hours that will work best for them.” —Vanessa DeLeon, Vanessa DeLeon Associates, New York

Imani James
Imani JamesCourtesy of Imani James

Be Flexible

“Communication is key when taking on new clients and setting the necessary expectations. We are upfront about our business hours from the very beginning. Fortunately, we have not had an instance where someone has not accepted what we have already communicated in our client welcome packet. We recognize that clients have demanding work schedules, so we offer appointment hours on some weekends if absolutely needed.” —Imani James, Imani James Interiors, Atlanta

Lisa Davey
Lisa DaveyCourtesy of Lisa Davey

Maintain a Work-Life Balance

“We don’t accommodate clients who want to meet outside our usual business hours. We have been most successful with creating boundaries with our clients, which includes strict business hours. Work-life balance is very important to us. It allows us to best serve our clients within our hours of operation.” — Lisa Davey, Thirteen Oak Interior Design Studio, San Francisco

Killy Scheer
Killy ScheerCourtesy of Killy Scheer

Charge for Overtime

“Our contract stipulates that meetings and requests for work deliverables that take place outside of regular business hours will be billed at an increased rate. It’s inevitable that some meetings will start before or run past our outlined hours of business, and we’re not sticklers about it. The clause is directed at clients who want to meet strictly before or after our business hours: early mornings, late evenings and weekends.” — Killy Scheer, Scheer & Co., Austin, Texas

Rebecca Hay
Rebecca HayCourtesy of Rebecca Hay

Manage Expectations

“We do not operate outside office hours. This can feel like a hard transition at first for designers, because we really want to please people and keep our clients happy. The best advice I can give is to set your client’s expectations early and often. We make it clear in all our client documentation and communication early on that we are available weekdays between the hours of 9 to 5. Most of our clients respect that. And if someone insists they need our help on a weekend, we politely decline and recognize they are not the client for us. There needs to be open and honest communication, but also mutual respect and appreciation. I have a young family and firmly believe in a healthy work-life balance. After hours are personal time and we do our best not to let work infringe upon that.” — Rebecca Hay, Rebecca Hay Designs, Toronto, Ontario

Homepage photo: A living room by Vanessa DeLeon | Courtesy of Jason Ducusin

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