Repeat clients—it’s a working relationship chockablock with trust. As with all relationships, though, there are bound to be some snags. We asked five designers—Giselle Loor Sugerman, Aileen Warren, Kiley Jackson, Nomita Joshi-Gupta and Blair Burton—about the challenges they face when working with a client again.
Old Habits Die Hard
“We just completed the 11th home for a legacy client in Miami. Having worked on multiple homes from Aspen to Washington, D.C., we always try to introduce something new into the design. Repeat clients can become comfortable with their specific aesthetic, and it can be challenging to break them from what they get accustomed to. On the other hand, when working with a repeat client, you know exactly how they like things done—and that can make it easier for us as the designers to interpret their desires into the design.” —Giselle Loor Sugerman, B+G Design, Miami
“We absolutely love our repeat clients, so not a ton of challenges come to mind. Honestly, the biggest one right now is probably adjusting their expectations on budgets and lead times. When we originally worked with most of these clients, product prices were lower and lead times were much more reasonable.” —Aileen Warren and Kiley Jackson, Jackson Warren Interiors, Houston
Rate of Change
“Repeat clients are a boon, but gray areas can appear. Scheduling is challenging, as there is an expectation from the client to start their new project as soon as possible. The other challenge is billing and fees. In the time since you may have [first worked with] the client, your fee structure may have gone up or completely changed. It does present an awkward situation, but being upfront and professional about it is the best way to deal with this issue.” —Nomita Joshi-Gupta, Nomita Joshi Interior Design, New Orleans
“I love repeat clients, though the toughest thing about them has been my business evolution and growing team. Clients that used to get a lot of time with me might now have more day-to-day interactions with one of my senior or junior designers. Another challenge with repeat clients is setting a different aesthetic than the previous project—encouraging clients to diversify their style and try something new. Something we have been finding difficult lately is adjusting expectations to the ‘new normal.’ Previous clients are used to quicker turnarounds. Today, lead times are terrible, quotes are harder to get, and schedules are busier.” —Blair Burton, Blair Burton Interiors, Austin
Homepage image: A kitchen by Blair Burton | Molly Culver Photography