5 Client Red Flags You Shouldn't Ignore

If you're in the interior design business, you've had at least one not-great client. It is just a miserable experience and can REALLY drag you down! It can even impact your work with other clients and projects. So if at all possible, it's best to avoid those frustrating clients. There are definitely red flags that can let us know that a client may not be the best fit, but if we're in a hurry or we really really want the project, we'll let those slide, right?? I know I've done it before! And then I've regretted it - UGH. I mean. Realllly, regretted it! So here are 5 signs that a client is not the right fit, no matter how much you may want to take them on.

1. They Have Worked with a Designer (or Two)

This is always an issue. Clients will say that they've worked with other designers and just didn't get along with them, or felt that the designer's vision wasn't right. And we'll think to ourselves "Well that won't happen with ME!" If a client has hired and fired other designers, it's probably the client that's the problem. Most designers have a solutions-oriented attitude, meaning we think we can solve all the challenges in a project. But there are some things that are impossible - including a problematic client. Run away! 🏃‍♀️

2. Chemistry Issues

Always trust your gut!! If there's any small thing that makes you think that you and the client aren't a fit, you're probably right. Don't push those feelings away or ignore them! And speaking of chemistry - consider the relationship between a client couple. Are they arguing in front of you? Is there a frosty feeling in the air? Is one person negating everything the other person is saying? YIKES. Unless you want to be a therapist, that couple may not be the best fit for you. 

3. They Don't Have a Budget

Ah the infamous budget question. Every client has a budget, even if it's only a rough idea in their minds. But if a client says money is no object, you and I both know that's NEVER true. And if they say they just aren't sure what their budget is, that's also not always the case. Yes, in some cases we just need to educate our clients so they understand everything that will be involved in their project. But anyone who acts like budget is no big deal or seems out of touch with what things cost is not going to be a good fit for most designers.

4. They're in a Hurry

Everyone wants everything done yesterday!! Thanks to microwaves and Amazon, we're all super-impatient as a society. You know exactly how long most projects will take, no matter the scope. So if a client pushes back and questions WHY something is going to take so long, they're going to push you all the way to installation. And that is NO fun. If a client won't respect the timelines and budgets you present at the beginning, it's going to be a LOOONG project. And you won't be happy.

5. They Question Your Payment Schedule. And Fees. And Markups. And...

When it comes to interior design, there are questions and then there are QUESTIONS. Of course a client will want to learn more about your style and how your process will work. But if they ask WHY they have to pay you on a certain schedule, that's a red flag. If they want you to give them a discount, or explain every single detail of your fees, they may not be a fit. And if they say things like "double dipping" or "double charging" when it comes to your markups, that's a problem. You can give them explanations and let them know that's how you do business. But you also know that if someone is being aggressive or too insistent on all the details, then they are not the client for you.

It's hard to say no to a job. It's REALLY hard to say no to a client when you are thinking about this year's pipeline. But in the long run, a bad client can COST you money and time. So it's worth it to avoid them. And you also have a responsibility to set client expectations for how you work. I can help with that! Download my FREE Guide to Setting Client Expectations here!

 PS. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and watch videos like this:

Check out more design business tips and tricks

Making the Most of Client Touchpoints

How Communication Can Solve Any Project Challenge

Navigating a Client Couple

Ready to Get Some Processes in Place - and Get Back Time to Work on Your Business?

Organize and automate your interior design business by implementing a few business processes. Each process helps designers show up prepared and professional at every step.

Download this FREE GUIDE and start automating your business today!