trade tales | Oct 22, 2021 |
When potential clients aren’t a good fit, do you refer them to other designers?

Whether it’s a matter of project scope, budget or vision (or simply a personality clash), some potential clients are not going to be a good fit. We asked seven designers—Caroline Brackett, James Copeland, Ginger Curtis, Lisa Gielincki, Malik Logan, Trish Lynn and DuVäl Reynolds—if they refer these projects to other designers.

DuVäl Reynolds
DuVäl ReynoldsCourtesy of DuVäl Reynolds

What goes around
“​Without question! My reasoning is twofold. First, I love to support my industry wherever possible. Just because a client isn’t a good fit for me doesn’t mean that it won’t work out for another designer. I have also been on the other end of a client not being a good fit for one designer but an ideal client for me. There’s more than enough business to go around—there’s no reason not to help a fellow designer. Secondly, I think it always leaves a good impression with the potential client, letting them know that although we were not able to manage the project, we serviced them in the best way possible.” DuVäl Reynolds, DuVäl Design, Fairfax, Virginia

James Copeland
James CopelandCourtesy of James Copeland

Pay it forward
“We are not right for every project that might come our way. We refer projects to colleagues when they require a schedule or expertise we can not provide. Whenever possible, I like to refer potential projects to former employees who have started their own practice.” —James Copeland, Principal, Hudson Design, Garrison, New York

Lisa Gielincki
Lisa GielinckiCourtesy of Lisa Gielincki

A matter of time
“We do this frequently. Many of the clients who call us are referred by an existing client, and it’s important that, if I cannot work in the potential client’s time frame, I find another designer who is a good fit for their style and project. I want to be assured they are with a designer who will do a good job for them.” —Lisa Gielincki, Lisa G Interior Design, Jacksonville, Florida

Malik Logan
Malik LoganCourtesy of Malik Logan

Reach out to your network
“Whenever my books are full, or the project is not a great fit for my firm, I refer clients to other designers. Luckily, I have built a strong community with other designers, personally and professionally. If a project ever comes my way that isn’t great for me, I reach out to any of those designers I see as the best fit for the project. I have been able to learn their processes, design aesthetics and, most importantly, who they are as a person and a firm. The client-designer relationship is very important to me, and I don’t feel right referring a prospective client to just anyone!” Malik Logan, The Tailored Interiors, Raleigh, North Carolina

Caroline Brackett
Caroline BrackettCourtesy of Caroline Brackett

Special request only
“I do not [refer would-be clients to other designers] unless specifically asked to, and then only refer to another designer after getting their permission to do so.”Caroline Brackett, Caroline Brackett Studio of Design, Greenville, South Carolina

Ginger Curtis
Ginger CurtisCourtesy of Ginger Curtis

With care
“If we aren’t the right fit for someone, and we know who would be, we will definitely refer them to that company. But we are extremely careful [to make sure that] any businesses we recommend treat their clients with the same level of customer service and excellent care as we would.” Ginger Curtis, Urbanology Designs, Dallas

Trish Lynn
Trish LynnCourtesy of Trish Lynn

Better business
“It’s essential that the client relationship is a match from an aesthetic, chemistry and timing standpoint. This isn’t always the case, and that is usually clear from our discovery session. I am always open to sending potential clients to fellow designers I feel may be a better fit. I have a great relationship with many local interior designers and draw a lot of advice and inspiration from speaking with them. Syncing up with fellow designers has helped in shifting my business model for the better.” Trish Lynn, Colette Interiors, Chatham, New Jersey

Homepage photo: A project by Lisa G Interior Design | Photo by Jessie Preza

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