5 Ways to Talk About Supply Delays with Your Clients
It's the elephant in the room when it comes to interior design today - when will the furnishings arrive?? It's especially frustrating when you're stuck between the manufacturers who can't deliver and the client who is wondering why the delivery date keeps getting pushed back further and further. Everyone is frustrated and there isn't a quick solution in sight. But there IS one thing you can control - how you communicate with your clients. It is so important to face challenges head on with them, so here are 5 ways to talk about supply delays!
1. Start Early
If you're just starting a project, you have got to bring up delays right now. The earlier you can set your client's expectations, the better. Be completely honest about the delivery dates as they stand now, and be sure to tell her that those dates can change at any minute. You also want to point out that there are delays in everything from construction materials to plumbing to cabinetry.
2. Adjust Your Contract
Not only have there been a lot of delays, but prices are fluctuating, too! You don't want to be caught with an order that you are paying more for than what you quoted to your client. NO BUENO. So include clauses in your contract about estimates on delivery and on pricing, and that you have the option to adjust for both. And, as always, go over every part of the contract with your client in person so there are no misunderstandings later.
3. Be Honest
Okay, I know you always try to be 100% honest with your clients. But I also know that these conversations can be HARD. It isn't fun to let your client down (yet again) with bad news about deliveries. But this is why you are the boss. Do not fudge any dates. Do not let time go by and hope she won't notice. The trust you build with a client is crucial and you need to protect it. So always give her the information she needs as soon as you know it.
4. Update Your Client Every Week
Communication has never ever been more important than it is right now. You need to be on top of those deliveries and the ever-changing dates, and you need to email your client with an update at least every week. Even if the info hasn't changed, your client is going to feel SO much better if you are communicating with her every week. Again, it's about that trust factor. This is a good habit to get into even when there isn't a crazy supply chain issue!
5. Prove It
Some clients are truly not keyed into the supply issues. If it hasn't hit their grocery store or their daily life, they may not be paying attention. And in that case, it could sound like you're making excuses. Or the client may just think they can get a quicker turnaround from a different designer. Prove to them that the issues are industry-wide (and global, really!). In your emails, update them with links to news stories about backed up shipping ports or industry articles on delays. That information will help them understand that this is not something you (or anyone else) can control right now!
To help you start this conversation (and keep it going), download my FREE Guide to Setting Client Expectations. It's the key to keeping your clients informed and on board!