Highs and Lows of the Interior Design Business

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Highs and Lows of the Interior Design Business

As an interior designer, you know how FABULOUS your life is!

You ONLY have clients with unlimited budgets- who want whatever you suggest to them. They just want YOU to be happy and you to make a LOT of money!


I have heard about a LOT of design lows lately, and I want you to know that you are not alone!! Since NO design project and NO client is the same, every project is a new project with new uncertainties.

I have shared these tips before, but I really hope by sharing them again, the tips will help at least ONE designer feel better:)

As a designer, we are constantly trying to figure out how to improve the design experience for the client and for ourselves! There are so many highs, but when you have multiple lows in a row, it is really hard to pick yourself up.

What are design highs and lows?

High: It’s Photo Shoot Day! Photography: Edmund Barr

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 the lows often stem from items you can’t 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 the interior design community- 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, take a moment to put yourself 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

Return on Interiors®

Send Your Clients Flowers Photography: moi

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!!

Handling the Highs and Lows of the Interior Design Business _Page_1

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




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