What I Am Not….

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!

Check me out on PinterestFacebookTwitter and Insta.gram (CourtneyOutLoud) for musings on design, food and just plain randomness.


16 thoughts on “What I Am Not….

  1. So very true! I agree with all of these~esp. the “free”
    one. It seems that people feel entitled to pick your brain at any time. I get many emails asking design questions from clients. I don’t work for free. Set up a meeting, and I will be happy to answer any of those questions.

  2. As I delve back into catering, I find I share a lot of your gripes. I love how people expect something for nothing or top of the line quality for very cheap. You get what you pay for.

  3. The older I get the more I realize that many people are really not that bright and they also had bad parenting. Just keep up the good work and be true to yourself Courtney – you have the major advantages of intelligence and good parenting on your side 🙂

  4. Being in the service industry is such a challenge, constantly walking the line between ‘above and beyond’ customer service and your personal and professional needs and boundaries. Thanks for organizing your thoughts and posting this; it’s applicable to all of us in service (well, maybe not the sex toy part– not yet, anyway).

  5. This applies to anyone running their own business. When you can’t hide behind “that’s not the company’s policy” because you ARE the company I can imagine that it’s hard not to overexend yourself in the efforts to providing good customer service. Once again, bluntly stated and true!

  6. well said, my friend!! I always say ‘tell me your budget’ and when they do, I follow up with ‘I promise I will spend every bit of that’. They look a little puzzled at first, but I explain that that’s the deal. I am not a HGTV ‘pretend’ design show where the designer doesn’t get paid… When you go onto a car lot with 5,000 cash in your pocket do you REALLY expect to drive away in a new Mercedes???? Of course not!

  7. Well said, Courtney. With a few tweaks, this would apply to me as an event designer. I think one thing that gets to me most is people unwilling to share their budget. Uh….do you want me shopping out a Ferrari when you only have Ford cash??? What’s up with that? I am actually going to pass this on to a woman who I know would appreciate the irony as it applies to her. Hang in there!

  8. This was hilarious and yet at the same time effective. You got your point across, but kept it upbeat and positive. Bravo! 🙂 I’m still cracking up over you bleaching your hands… I probably would, too.

  9. You are most certainly right about these things. I’m in the midst of having my policy pages re-written for my clients to sign their initials on each one of those dotted lines. It seems I have been having a string of some of the same things happening to me. It is disheartening and devaluing sometimes… But I keep going, because I know there are clients who respect and value what I put into their projects. Those are the people that make it worthwhile and those are the people we need to seek out!

  10. I wholeheartedly agree. You’ve always strived to do the very best, but in your business, this requires your clients to meet you at least partway. I’m so proud of all you accomplished and am glad you’re laying down the law!

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