Megan Hopp knows the difficulties associated with being a designer. Here, she offers some insight.
When you meet people out in the world and you tell them you’re a professional interior designer, there’s a certain reaction. People who don’t work in design picture beautiful finished spaces, all prim and photo-ready, and they rarely think about all the work that we, the designer, do. Not only are there the difficulties of pulling together a completed project, but designers also have to be constant client relations experts, knowing how to negotiate people’s tastes and sometimes even emotions.
Below, I’m weighing in on some designer concerns specific to Homepolish and letting you know how I keep my head afloat.
To consultation or not to consultation?
“Will the client buy time? Should I be working instead? Is it worth it?” These are questions we’ve had to ask ourselves about the complimentary consultation at the beginning of every Homepolish experience. A consultation can feel like a risk. If the initial meet doesn’t translate into a job, not only is that potential work gone but it’s also time lost. You know the old saying “practice makes perfect?” Well, in this case, it’s TRUE. The more consults you go on, the more you will sell. Finding your groove and personal style isn’t something you can practice at home or get better at by studying. Getting out there in the world and taking on as many consultations as you are able will only help you to identify what works and what does not. Pay attention to your habits and the things you find yourself saying regularly. Do they work? Do clients respond well? If the answer is yes, keep it up! If not, switch up your tactics. Don’t get attached to practices that “theoretically” make sense, and stay open to trying new techniques. You’ll be doing yourself a favor. Remember that clients can smell fear and unsettled behavior a mile away. The more consults you get under your belt, the more relaxed you will feel. Try not to worry about the outcome (easier said than done). The most important part of getting good at the consult is finding your individual style and what feels most comfortable for YOU! Think of this hour as an opportunity for you to lean into all the things that you not only love about design but are specifically good at. Once you lock into a track of selling more time, the questions of “is it worth it?” will dissipate. Bottom line: the more consultations you do, the better they’ll get. That’s a fact.
How many is too many?
“I hear that some designers have twenty clients?! Should I?” No! (Unless, of course, you want that many… then yes!) Some of us work 100% through Homepolish; some have day jobs elsewhere. Each circumstance is different. Therefore what another designer’s workload looks like has very little do with your own. Assuming you are looking to work as much as you can within your given circumstance, the rule of thumb should be to take on as many clients as you are able without compromising the quality of your work. Homepolish Designersays, “I’ve determined that 4-5 active clients is my max. I want to make sure that at any given point if a client reaches out to me, I have the capacity to respond within a couple hours. When I first started with Homepolish, I was so excited, that I took on something like 9 clients. It was nuts. I’m not sure that I slept much during those first two weeks.” As we all know, travel is the main culprit in time loss. The smarter you get about where your jobs are located, the more efficient you will be, and in turn, the larger number of clients you will be able to take on.
Take on as many clients as you are able without compromising the quality of your work.
Where do I draw the line with clients?
One of the most amazing things about Homepolish is that it gives people access to interior designer when they never thought this possible. A truly rewarding part of the experience is working with a client who is thrilled to go through the design experience for the first time. With these bright-eyed newbies come a lot of “so are you going to be here when my couch comes?” questions. I advise laying the groundwork from the start. Don’t assume the client knows anything about the process. The trick is talking about the design experience in exclusively positive language. Instead of saying, “It wouldn’t make sense for me to use up four hours of your design time waiting for your couch,” you could say, “I’ll be with you every step of the way in selecting a piece that is perfectly suited to your and your space, and from there, the shopping department will manage the order so that the couch is delivered to your home at an ideal time that works for you!” Sounds better, right? The client will ultimately be happier if you lead the way in setting boundaries in the relationship. This is a personal call according to your work style and how involved you like to be with your clients. Being very specific and clear in the beginning will help you to avoid “I thought that was your job” conversations down the line.
But really… how long is it going to take?
The dreaded question… and frankly I’d like to know too! First thing to do in taking on this conversation that pops up time after time is to get real with yourself about your work pace. How much can you actually source in an hour, and not just on a good day? Be entirely realistic about what you can accomplish when doing your part of the job, so that when you say you can design a terrace in an hour and a half, you can deliver! When asked this question in a consultation, be as specific as possible about the parts of the process you can estimate time on, and identify and explain the parts that are out of your control. I also like to use this question as an opportunity to promote decisive behavior on the client’s end! I usually throw something out like “Where time can add up is directly linked to how quickly we can lock down decisions. I can be confident in securing our selections very quickly, but I’m also sensitive to the fact that it’s your home and your money!” This puts an amount of responsibility on the client. Finally, always give a range of hours in predicting how long a job is going to take and suggest they go for the smaller amount. This will lay the foundation for an honest start to the relationship, where the client won’t feel taken advantage of or oversold.