Handling the Highs and Lows of the Interior Design Business

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Handling the Highs and Lows of the Interior Design Business

As an interior designer, you know how your life is! It is ALL glamorous, ALL fabulous and you have ONLY clients with unlimited budgets- who don’t care about the aesthetic. They just want YOU to be happy and to make a LOT of money!


Return on Interiors®

Home is Finished- Design High!

The real crazy thing is that I got into design thinking that the highs and lows would be NOTHING like the highs and lows of house flipping. Yes, I used to flip a lot of houses…hundreds of houses. And I had the highest of highs:

  • When my offer on a house was accepted
  • When I listed the house
  • When the house actually closed (sold)

This was soooooo awesome, BUT, I also had so many lows:

  • Crap, the offer was accepted, now I must hurry and fix it up and put it on the market (time=money because of holding costs!)
  • Waiting for an offer (time=money because of holding costs!)
  • Waiting for the property to close once it is sold (time=money because of holding costs!)
  • I MUST find another property (I used to always have 3-5 at one time)

So, designing homes for OTHER people wasn’t supposed to be so stressful! Well, I didn’t realize there were MORE reasons to be up and down.

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Design High- Photoshoot Day!

Design Highs:

  • You got a client!
  • The clients love your design presentation
  • Install Day!
  • The clients love their new space= the client loves you
  • Photo Shoot Day!

Design Lows:

  • Client won’t pay your invoice-or pay what you are worth
  • Your vendor doesn’t deliver the product when they say they will, so you look like an idiot to your clients!
  • Items ordered (yes, the ones you waited forever for) arrive damaged
  • Client can’t make fast decisions and constantly asks their “friends” for opinions
  • You have a few items left over after the installation, but you can’t resolve them for reasons out of your control. Again, you look like a flaky idiot!
  • Your client doesn’t like something

OK, you see I could go on and on for the lows, since they stem from items you can’t always control!

The highs always affirm that you are on track, while the lows make us feel like we did something wrong (and are a loser, and shouldn’t be in this business, and …) You get it!

After years of feedback (isn’t that a nice way to put it?), I have to admit, sometimes, I still feel the pain! BUT, it is something we cannot avoid if we are going to be part of society- and participate on social media. So, I want to pass on some tips to help you feel in control of your business- and yourself!

Wait a Minute- or 5

When I have one of those design lows, I first am shocked, then want to cry, then get mad, then…I stop thinking and TAKE A WALK!

Those first emotions hit hard and last about 30 seconds. Really. Then, I force myself to walk away because ruminating does NOTHING!!! Putting yourself in a different environment does do something. It changes your perspective and gives you time to understand their perspective!

Understand the Person’s Perspective

Even if you think the person is wrong, there is something about it that hit a nerve, so try to see the situation from your client’s perspective.

For example, you have your install, but are missing a key coffee table that leaves a hole in the room. Literally. The client is pissed and blames you because you have been working on this project- and it has taken forever!

Instead of losing it because they don’t understand that you have already bent over backwards working on this very issue, I take a moment to put myself in their shoes. Guess what? I would be angry, too.

Well, the reason your client is angry, may not be so easily apparent. This might be the “last straw” in a series of delays and poor communication. So, how do you evaluate it?

Think about:

  • Have they reacted this way to anything else during the process?
  • Have you done your best, so they have confidence in you?
  • Are there other issues that are lurking under the surface?

Is Their Feedback True?

Try to take a look at the situation from a third-party point-of-view. I talk about things with my sister, who doesn’t operate in the design world- and I talk to people on the Return on Interiors private Facebook forum.

Both people in and out of the industry have had similar experiences and can often help you solve your issue. Or, at least help you get some perspective. Please note, I didn’t say gossip and I didn’t say reach out to a hundred people!

Respond from a Place of Love

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Send Your Clients Flowers

You may want to scream at the person, but if I respond from a place of love, my heart is open to hearing their concerns.

  • Let them know you have heard their concerns by repeating, or paraphrasing their issues.
  • Go ahead. Be honest. Let them know how you feel and if you don’t agree, let them know why you do or don’t agree. Be humble and apologetic.
  • Figure out what the next steps will be to resolve the issue- or at least get a temporary resolve.
  • Thank them for bringing it to your attention.

Growing and Learning from Mistakes

I really, really am thankful when someone brings something to my attention, because then I can set about making it right. AND, I will try to avoid doing it in the future.

Gosh, it can be painful, but we need to grow. I can’t tell you the number of mistakes I have made!! With each one, I have grown and made my business better and better. I also don’t feel the depths of pain like I used to!

Instead, I channel the learning into creating new processes or refining my processes. As you can tell, (Hello Return on Interiors!) I like to immediately implement what I have learned, so I don’t repeat a bad thing- or forget to do a good thing!

You may not be having one of “those” times right now, but you will!! Please download this Guide to Handling the Ups and Downs of the Design Business! Save it for a rainy day. Or, better yet, please share this with your colleague who might be having a bad day. They would really appreciate it!!

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Click Here to Download the Guide Handling the Highs and Lows of the Interior Design Business!