Getting Shopped by Clients

One of the biggest challenges facing interior designers today is getting shopped by clients.  This means that a designer proposes an item to a client, only to have them find that same item cheaper somewhere else.

I hear designers encountering this with clients all the time.  But getting shopped by clients is not going to go away because I'm pretty sure the internet is here to stay.  It is human nature to want the best price and the best deal and the internet makes that a lot faster and easier.

So what should we do about the inevitable?  Here are some options and ideas to help you overcome this challenge.

Overcome Getting Shopped

  1. Choose projects with clients that respect your job.  Designer's aren't shoppers, our job is to look at lifestyle, clients, personalities, tastes, and the space and create beautiful and functional interiors.  We're not personal shoppers for homes.  Educate your clients and choose projects that respect that.
  2. Let clients know you do try to find them the best price, but you are not in the business of scouring the far-corners of the web to find the lowest price.  This could cost them more in hourly fees and you can't vouch for the company that is selling at that low rate.
  3. Allow client's to find the best price if they choose.  If you're client wants to spend their hours finding the cheapest price, let them.  Advise them of the dangers of purchasing from untested sources and potential problems.
  4. Explain why you use the vendors that you do, even when they're not the cheapest.  Explain that you have relationships with vendors and manufacturers and you know that they're reliable and stand behind their product, so when something goes wrong you have a partner to help you fix it.
  5. Go custom.  By having pieces custom-made your client is getting a quality piece that is unique for home.  They can't shop custom.
  6. Speak to vendors and manufacturers that you see are undercutting designers, let them know that they're hurting your business and it makes a difference to you.  Stop buying their products if you want.
  7. Support vendors and manufacturers that support designers.
  8. Have an honest, open conversation with clients before you begin the project about what they expect from you and if they're the type to look for bargains online.
  9. Include clause in contract that anything you specify will include a mark-up/design fee whether the clients purchase direct or through you.
  10. Remember that you are selling an experience and a solution, not a sofa and tables.  Don't fixate on the price of goods, price your services based on your experience, the design plan, and the overall outcome of a project.  Highlight your value.
  11. Make your clients feel like you are part of their team.  Clients want to know that you are looking out for their best interests.
  12. Pass on your designer discount.  Or split your discount.  Show your clients what you pay for goods to put them more at ease and trust you.
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