From shipping delays to back-ordered items, project timelines are often impacted by factors out of the firm’s control, especially these days. Still, clients typically need some kind of reassurance in these scenarios, as anxieties run high. We asked four designers—Sara Hillery, Andrew Galuppi, Renée Gaddis and Alisa Popelka—to reveal how they soothe their clients’ nerves when a project is running late.
TRANSPARENCY AND HONESTY
“We strive to be very transparent with our clients, especially now with shipping delays and other disruptions. One of our tools is creating a project timeline, which includes a schedule for the installation of each product. We update that spreadsheet regularly and send it to our clients, so they have the same information. Certain delays are out of our hands, but we think it’s important to provide that information, as well as advice on how to make the process easier. If a client is living in a rental during the renovation process, we’ll proactively reach out to them as soon as we know something won’t be finished as planned. That way, they can consider extending their lease or making other arrangements. If the client had scheduled an event, we’d work with them to determine if the date is still feasible. Our goal in this scenario is to get as many pieces of the puzzle that we do have control over together.” —Sara Hillery, Sara Hillery Interior Design, Richmond, Virginia
LENDING AN EAR
“Setting expectations from the start is essential. I always tell clients how inevitable it is that something will go wrong during a project so they can be prepared. Talking it out and letting clients vent their frustrations usually helps ease stress and tension. Sometimes a client just wants to be heard, so an important part of my job is being a good listener. I also send weekly email updates to each client, so they are aware of the latest progress and changes. Communication is key.” —Alisa Popelka, Alisa Cristine Interiors, Dallas
“I am known for working on projects with tight timelines—it keeps things fresh and exciting. One of the ways I manage this is always underpromising and overdelivering. It has served me well in my career, especially now, with what is happening with the strained global supply chain. Another strategy is communicating at every step of the project and highlight issues and delays in real time. This point is critical because clients want to know what is going on, and my job is to inform them with a positive attitude. At the end of the day, it's all about teamwork and getting the project finished quickly without sacrificing the integrity of the original design.”—Andrew Galuppi, Galuppi Design, New York and Mumbai
“Scheduling deadlines can be so challenging to all of us, especially recently. I constantly remind our clients to ‘trust the process,’ since the end product will be beautiful despite being delayed by factors out of our control. By holding their hand a little tighter through the bumps, the clients feel comforted. There is no need for them to see the hoops our team is jumping through behind the scenes to keep the project on track. Of course, offering a little champagne to celebrate the milestones along the way can always help.” —Renée Gaddis, Renée Gaddis Interiors, Naples, Florida
Homepage photo: An entry room designed by Renée Gaddis | Mali Azima