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 gauge whether a client is (or isn’t) the right fit.
“We only turn down a client for a couple of reasons. One, they have an unrealistic schedule or time frame for us to complete the scope of work; or two, our aesthetics don’t entirely align. We’ve had some clients come to us with a very strong idea of what they already want, and [we] feel we won’t be able to add our stamp to the project.” —Todd Raymond, Studio Todd Raymond, New York
“As a sensitive person and business owner, I am constantly thinking about what feels right for the client and myself. So when more ‘internet strangers’ began inquiring about my services, I decided to set up a service match quiz to properly connect these prospective clients to the services that would work best for them. It’s less about giving a no and more about finding a solution that works for both sides. Most people [that I encounter] today, regardless of property value, are not really needing full-service design. I’m actually in a season of saying yes to a lot of one-day consulting or virtual projects, which see me helping volumes of people make key design decisions for their home but in a short amount of time.” —Kaitlyn Loos, Kaitlyn Loos Design, Ocala, Florida
“We typically find out a prospective client’s needs and wants. Our firm focuses on full-scale homes and spaces, and sometimes that doesn’t work for a person or family’s needs. We explain ourselves and, [if it’s not a fit, we] refer the client to another local designer who might offer a different scope or better suit their needs.” —Katie Davis, Katie Davis Designs, Houston
Hear Them Out
“We are a more turnkey operation—soup to nuts—so oftentimes people come to us to design just one room, and we have to turn them down. The vast majority of the work we do is a whole home. We explain our process and tell them we don’t have the bandwidth or that it’s not the right fit. Even though everything is done over the phone, a personal touch is extremely important to me. For someone who is not a right fit as a client, we always hear them out and find out exactly what they’re looking for.” —Kara Adam, Kara Adam Interiors, Dallas
“I rarely turn down a client unless I feel that it really wouldn’t be a good fit for the firm, and that would be because there was a personality difference or the project was not compatible with the direction the firm is going in. When that rare occasion does occur, I believe honesty and integrity are always the best policies.” —Melinda James, M. James Design Group, Houston
Homepage image: A living room designed by Todd Raymond | Adrian Gaut