The last couple of months, I have found myself in several strange predicaments totally of my making with clients. Starting out, I have been quite generous with my time, advice and schedule – pretty if a client asked it, wanted it or need it I found a way to make it happen. I always considered that to be “customer service” and the type of vendor/client engagement that demonstrates what it means to deal with an upstart or small business. However…..I have began to notice patterns which I have been correcting as they arise, which to say has tested my diplomacy and at times has found my repeating the mantra of a dear friend from Detroit …”Jesus be a fence so I don’t lose my mind and do something stupid….” All said, these opportunities are the learning experiences that I think we all need and I thought I would share my list….
What I Am Not….
1) Free: Sorry folks. Using my services once doesn’t entitle you to life-time privileges. A one-off question is something I am happy to answer but asking me to decide paint, furniture and fabric for a room to give you an “idea” isn’t happening….
2) Cheap: I don’t lower my rates. Working with a designer is a luxury and that needs to be accounted for when seeking their (aka my) services. Asking me to lower my rates is a tell-tale sign that we (a) would not make a good fit and (b) should part ways immediately.
3) A Mover: I am happy to help you move stuff, but when I ask that a room be “cleared” that doesn’t mean for you to leave your furniture, electronics and sundry items and vacate the room. I meant for YOU to move them out of the space before I arrive. My rate per hour is way more expensive than hiring movers for the day — you are paying alot to have me pack your boxes.
4) A House Cleaner: I don’t like cleaning up my own messes, let alone yours. If I make the mess, I will clean it up and leave it better than I found it. As a common courtesy, remove your laundry, large fur/hair balls and kinky boxes of unspeakable sex toys (I bleached my hands…) before I arrive. I can handle the rest.
5) Your Scheduler: I am quite flexible when it comes to scheduling meetings, but with that flexibility comes a certain commitment from you to be on time and be present during the meeting. As much as I like my clients, I like them alot less when they are 30 minutes late or taking calls/answering texts/tweeting during our meetings. Again, you are paying for my time (even when you are late) so let’s get the hard stuff out-of-the-way so we can focus on the fun stuff.
6) Your Counselor: Truth be told, I try very hard to keep my family, friends and business associates separate. But there are times that clients become friends and that is wonderful. However, until that occurs, over-sharing is not caring. Marital strife, eating disorders and mystical encounters (that is a story that involves crystals, purple paint and a “calling”) are life challenges but they are not my life challenges. I am sure you have other people to talk to…but then my rate may be lower than a good counselor’s — so talk away…..
7) Omnipotent: I strive to get into the heads of my clients and pull out the things they can’t articulate. However, I will occasionally strike out, miss the mark, go on a tangent. It happens. Let’s regroup and we can try again. I promise the next go around will be better.
8) A DIYer: I do DIY in my home because I am willing to take a chance and the consequences if I mess up. In a client’s home and on a client’s budget, I am wary of taking that same leap of faith. Those wonky edges and not so perfect lines, I am okay with but I am pretty sure you won’t be. And I still charge my normal rate, so does that DIY really save you that much money if you have me do it?
9) A Banker: Tell me a number and I will build the design around that. My job is to find you the best quality for what your budget will allow, not to shop for rock bottom prices. If you told me $20K was your budget, I am going to be sure you get the best room possible for that amount. However, don’t tell me $20K and secretly hope I only spend $15K — because you will be sorely disappointed.
10) A Psychic: I can only base my decisions on your feedback. Be truthful and honest and I will do the same.
Sorry for the lack of pretty pics today – but I needed to get that off my chest.
Have a GREAT weekend!