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Have you ever had a client send you a batch of pictures off the web that they just love… when you’re already three quarters the way through the designing and the photos are the total opposite of what she first said she wanted?

Of course you have! It’s happened to every one of us!

So, what do you do? Start over and rebuild the design on your dime? Or tell the client she just can’t do that?

You are going to have do something and it’d be far easier if you had “pre-framed” the rules of how the design process works with her before she went down this path.

This process of explaining how you work needs to happen right at the beginning of the job, when you are having her sign the letter of agreement.

You start by explaining that the programming phase of design, is where you collect tons of information about the physical space and as much information as possible about the preferences of the client. You explain that during this phase you want to see EVERYTHING that she can share about what she wants and doesn’t want in her new space.

But once you close the door on this programming phase (you need to let her know “time is up” tomorrow, last chance to share pictures), you will explain that you take all the information collected and apply it to creating her special design.

The next statement is:

“This doesn’t mean that you cannot find something else that you feel is better and send it to me. However you need to know that I haven’t included extra time in your Letter of Agreement design fee to backtrack and incorporate these new ideas into your design, so I will have to bill you for my extra time to be able to utilize them.”

This conversation could be entirely verbal but I believe it is easier for you to explain and hold to your rules if it is written in the form of a “How We Work” handout that you explain and leave with the client as part of your new client package. It should also slow down the late information and the sending of endless (and useless) websites and products.

But if it continues, stand on your boundary and send a warning email that says:

“Just checking in… I will have to bill extra time if I get into this, is that what you are telling me you want?”

In the end, the more you explain and pre-frame how the design experience works, the less overwhelm and more free time you’ll have… along with a much happier client and a beautifully designed space.

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