How to Turn Down a Project Like a Pro

How to turn down a project

There are many great reasons that you should turn down a project.  And it is perfectly okay to turn down a project.  We don't have to please everyone.

You want to pick projects that you love, that give something back to you, not drain you.  If you're just starting out, it's okay that you may not be crystal clear on what projects you want, you're still new and have time to experiment.  The longer that you're in business the better you'll get at selecting projects that are the right fit.  Selecting projects is easier if you have a guiding light to keep you on course.

You have to be confident and trust yourself.

If your gut is telling you to pass on the project listen.  You're probably picking up on something that your conscious mind doesn't realize.  Most designers I talk to, who are in the midst of a bad project, had a gut feeling that they ignored.  If any part of you thinks that the project or client could be a pain later, skip it.

So once we've passed the hurdle of recognizing that a project is just not possible, how do you say no to these projects?

Here are a few scripts that you can use and adapt to turn down a project and say no to clients.

You are too busy script

Hi Client, 

Thank you for your (email/opportunity to meet with you/speaking with me) regarding your (home remodel).  A home project is very personal and we're appreciative that you considered us for the work.  

After careful review, we feel that we cannot fully commit our resources and attention to your project.  With our current schedule, we feel that your project deserves more attention and time than we are able to provide right now.  

Optional (give referrals): I am enclosing a few names of other designers that may be able to take on a project with your scope right now.  

Optional (waitlist): Our schedule for a project of your size is opening in X months.  We can put your on our waiting list if you let us know by Friday. (Good idea to also require non-refundable deposit to hold spot.)

We are grateful that you considered us for your project.  

Sincerely, Your Name

Budget too small script

Hi Client, 

Thank you for your (email/opportunity to meet with you/speaking with me) regarding your (home remodel/new office/living room decoration).  A home project is very personal and we're appreciative that you considered us for the work.  

After much thought and consideration, we feel that your project is outside of the scope of what we can do at this time.  Typically our firm does projects that are in the $X-$X range and you said that you wanted to stay below $X.  We respect our client's budgets and it is always our goal to not exceed those numbers.  Because we want to honor your budget, we feel that you'd be better off with another firm that excels in projects of your size.  

We are grateful that you considered us for your project.  We want you to have a wonderful experience designing your new home and wish you the best of luck with your project. 

Sincerely, Designer

Timeline too tight script

Hi Client, 

Thank you for your (email/opportunity to meet with you/speaking with me) regarding your (home remodel/new office/living room decoration).  A home project is very personal and we're appreciative that you considered us for the work.  

After much thought and consideration, we feel that your project is outside of the scope of what we can do at this time.  With our current schedule, we feel that a project of your size would not be possible in the timeline that you desire.  Normally, to do a (kitchen remodel/bedroom design + install/ install new floors/etc) we would require at least (amount of time).  We feel that we won't be able to complete the project by XX.

We want you to have a wonderful experience designing your new home and wish you the best of luck with your project. 

Sincerely, Designer

Aesthetic differences script

Hi Client, 

Thank you for your (email/opportunity to meet with you/speaking with me) regarding your (home remodel/new office/living room decoration).  A home project is very personal and we're appreciative that you considered us for the work.  

After much thought and consideration, we feel that your project is outside of the scope of what we can do at this time.  I can see you're looking for (contemporary/traditional/remodel/loft/etc), which is not our firm's area of expertise.  We do (interiors/new builds/remodels/lofts) that are (design firm aesthetic).  Because we want you to have the home that you desire, we feel that you'd be better off with another firm that excels in the style you're looking for.  

Optional (give referrals): I am enclosing a few names of other designers that may be a better fit for your project.  (enclose names)

We are grateful that you considered us for your project.  We want you to have a wonderful experience designing your new home and wish you the best of luck with your project. 

Sincerely, Designer

Client with red flags script

Hi Client, 

Thank you for your (email/opportunity to meet with you/speaking with me) regarding your (home remodel).  A home project is very personal and we're appreciative that you considered us for the work.  

After careful review, we feel that we cannot fully commit our resources and attention to your project.  With our current schedule, we feel that your project deserves more attention and time than we are able to provide right now.  I wouldn't be comfortable taking your project knowing that you won't be getting our best work. 

Thank you for your interest in our firm.  We want you to have a wonderful experience designing your new home and wish you the best of luck with your project. 

Sincerely, Designer

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