So many times after a project sours designers tell me that there were red flags from the get-go. So the good thing is that potential clients will usually reveal from the start that they're not the right clients for you.
Too often designers, especially new designers, are so eager for work and to get hired that red flags are ignored or they don't know what to look out for. In the beginning, there are a few areas that you should consider before accepting and moving forward with a project.
Sometimes, you may not be able to name the red flag, but something just feels "off" or "not quite right". If your intuition or gut is trying to tell you something, I highly recommend you listen. You may ask how to tell the difference between nerves at an exciting new project and the warning of a red flag. There is no definitive answer, but generally, if what you're feeling is more butterflies than dread, you should be safe.
I always recommend that you only work with clients if they are at least 80% of your ideal client, they may not be 100%, but they are pretty close. If you've only been in business a short time that percentage can be a little lower because it can be beneficial to work on many kinds of projects, but the longer you're in business, the closer to 100% ideal your client projects should be.
Budget Red Flags
Have a client that wants their entire home decorated for $10,000 including design fees? Nope. Red Flag. Do they mention their friend that does windowcoverings for practically nothing? Nope. Red Flag. If a potential client talks about the amount they want to (or don't want to) spend on a project and it is not in line with the way you do business, these are red flags and should be carefully considered before you accept a project.
Personality Red Flags
Personality red flags are a little harder to identify. These are more likely to come under the "something doesn't feel right" category. But they can be very evident, like if the client is rude to their landscaper or your assistant or you. Red Flag. Othertimes, you may just feel like "I can't work with this person" or "they may be difficult to please." Or maybe you just realize that your personalities would clash. You should not have to become a different person to get jobs.
Style Red Flags
Sure, we all have a little wiggle room in the style of rooms we can design. But if a client hasn't looked at your portfolio make sure they relate to the work you do. If you're all about color and the client says his favorite color is beige. Nope. Red Flag. If the inspiration images provided by the client is something you don't like and would never design- move on. If you're not a style-match with the client, politely turn down the project.
Logistical Red Flags
Watch out for red flags of logistics too. If the husband is going to act as the general contractor on a new construction home with no experience. Nope. Red Flag. If the wife wants everything to be done before Christmas and it's Thanksgiving. Nope. Red Flag. Logistically if the project doesn't make sense from the beginning it will be really hard to rectify that during the project.
Now it's your turn! Share a time you recognized a red flag and what you did about it.
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