Boundaries tend to be a struggle for all of us as designers. We like to please people and want everyone to be happy, except that often we do this at the expense of ourselves.
One of the things that designers struggle with that gets them in the most trouble is when they get so excited about a new job. They rush to get a Letter of Agreement done. While I agree with trying to close the job quickly, I don’t agree with writing a Letter of Agreement so fast it won’t have enough information or boundaries in it to protect you.
If you take time in the beginning to get boundaries written into the agreement, it will make a huge difference later on in the job.
Typically, a designer and the client are excited to start a job. The designer then quickly writes up a Letter of Agreement for a living room that will cost $3,500.
But where did that number come from? It’s often based on what the designer thinks the client will pay without too much pushback.
It doesn’t have anything to do with how many hours it will take to complete the job or the client’s budget. In fact, because everything was done so fast, a budget probably doesn’t exist. Then what happens as you go along is that things don’t go as planned, clients don’t make decisions when you want, and you end up setting yourself up to be taken advantage of.
Watch the video above where I share a story about one of the designers in our Structure Program weekly Q & A Call. She took on two small jobs about a year ago, and today, those jobs are still not done, and the clients haven’t been heard from in months. While the clients are nice people, they are also very indecisive. I explain how things could have been done differently and what provisions to include in the contract to protect the designer from indecision and ghosting.
Fixing this challenge involves a mindset shift.
Your contract (LoA) should specifically state what you will do and the timeline it will be completed in. Once you’ve hit those milestones, you’ve actually completed the contract. It doesn’t state that you must keep feeding the client with ideas until they decide to buy something.
The mindset shift happens when you consider the design, your creative genius, separately from selling product elements. Once you’re done with design, your contract (LoA) is fulfilled. That way, if they haven’t made a decision, it is okay, the client can reengage at a later date for the product portion.
When you separate product sales from design services, it’s a game-changer!
My encouragement to you is to slow down. Think about how you will put a job together and what the boundaries need to be, including:
- The number of selections allowed
- How many meetings
- When the job starts and ends, and
- What happens if the client “ghosts” you
Take enough time to think about and include all of those items in the contract, and then the whole design process will come out better. It will also allow you to create a time sequence that makes sense. We want this all to work smoothly and give clients the very best design we can.
When this happens, we make more money and have more free time!
That’s what we teach here at Interior Design Business Academy. If you’re looking for answers, make a change, or grow your business, schedule a clarity call with one of our coaches. They will talk with you about where you are in your design business and what your next best steps are. It’s a free call that’s no-pressure and a lot of fun!
Until next time, design something beautiful and get paid what you’re worth.