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Business Advice

My client wants her money back—what now?

business advice | July 6, 2018
Dear Sean: My client hired me to redo her living spaces and dining area. Even though she approved (and paid) for everything beforehand, she now hates everything I have done. She wants me to take everything back and return the entire fee. I have never had this happen to me before—usually it is... By Sean Low

My client is undercutting me—and the showroom is helping her!

business advice | June 19, 2018
Dear Sean: My client is trying to undercut me—she went behind my back, posed as a designer to the showroom, and received net pricing (aka the designer’s rate) as a result. How would you handle this? Dear Undercut: Let’s acknowledge both the awfulness of a client pretending to be someon... By Sean Low

Help! My charging strategy is costing me money

business advice | June 5, 2018
Dear Sean: I’m an interior designer who works with architects and contractors. My main role is providing expertise on hard goods, fixtures and appliances in addition to designing decor. I also handle the furnishings aspect of the project. Until recently, I charged hourly for my consulting and... By Sean Low

I was just offered a huge project, and I’m terrified—help!

business advice | May 22, 2018
Dear Sean, I’ve been in business for about five years after working for a big-name designer in my area following design school. Most of my projects are local and on the smaller side: living areas, kitchens, bathrooms, guest bedrooms and even a master bedroom. I’m really happy with my projects... By Sean Low

My clients are out-shopping me!

business advice | May 8, 2018
Dear Sean, After my presentation, my clients proceed to take all of my item selections and shop them. They then show me either where they can get the pieces for less or provide me with similar items that, they claim, are “just like” what I showed them. As if that were not infuriating enough, ... By Sean Low

How can I get my clients to stop texting me?

business advice | April 24, 2018
Dear Sean: I am seeking advice on how to deal with text messages from clients after office hours or on weekends. They might be trying to schedule an appointment, sending pictures of furnishings/fixtures they found online or out shopping and asking for input, etc. I am finding the majority of ... By Sean Low

How do I explain my new pricing structure?

business advice | April 10, 2018
Dear Sean, Last year, I decided to stop charging by the hour and instead charge a flat fee plus a percentage on purchases for a client’s project. It has been going great! However, one of my old clients has come back with a fantastic new project and told me she expects the pricing model to rem... By Sean Low

My inexperienced assistant is opening her own firm

business advice | March 27, 2018
Welcome to our latest installment of BUSINESS ADVICE from industry expert Sean Low. Do you have a design business dilemma? REACH OUT TO US, and your question could be answered by Sean in an upcoming column. Dear Sean, One of my former assistants, a millennial, has moved on to start her own... By Sean Low

When is it OK to fire a client?

business advice | March 13, 2018
Dear Sean, My client hired me to assist with her kitchen remodel. I provided her with a detailed creative brief and a preferred list of vendors. I offered to manage the project for her, but she declined. Well, she did not hire any of my vendors and has “edited” my brief to the point that it ... By Sean Low

Are shopping trips a good sales tool, or a total time-waster?

business advice | February 27, 2018
Dear Sean, What is your approach to shopping trips? I find that I often befriend my clients, and it can become difficult to bill for time spent shopping with a “friend.” What does the ideal shopping trip look like? Are they outdated or a good sales tool? Signed, Shopping Buddy Dear S... By Sean Low
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