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In establishing a trustworthy and rewarding designer-client relationship, it is important for an interior designer to manage a client’s expectations. This is crucial for a designer in keeping a great reputation to ensure more successful and productive projects.

Below are some ways designers can manage their client’s expectations:

1. Before the first consultation, have the potential client fill out a questionnaire to facilitate the initial discussion.

2. If the design is for a couple, insist that both partners are present at the meeting. This is to ensure that both partners agree with what is expected of the designer.

3. Be open about everything at the first meeting; fees, design process, preferred method of correspondence and why etc. This is important in establishing trust.

4. After the client has expressed what he wants with the project, be honest about the feasibility of his expectations. Setting realistic expectations around how much the project would cost and how long it will take to complete the project is essential in avoiding issues later in the project.

5. It is important to get money discussions out of the way from the get-go, so potential red flags are identified before the designer commits to a project.

6. The designer should inform the client of other projects that he is working on so the client understands that his project is not the only one that the designer is working on, given his resources.

7. The Welcome/Intro packet should be as comprehensive and as informative as possible. Fully disclosed information like process chart, scope of work, project stages and guidelines, checklists, FAQs, office hours, budget calculator, contract/Letter of Agreement etc. Remember to establish a billing & purchasing procedure within the contract so there are no future surprises. Make sure the client initial on each page of the contract as the billing information is explained. Get all policies in writing. Make all boundaries clear especially in the event of any hiccups. This will help establish clear boundaries for the client to best work with the designer.

8. Gently explain to the client that while all measures are taken to ensure everything goes to plan, something always goes wrong because this is not an exact science. However, the client must be assured that hiccups will be handled efficiently as they arise to instil confidence in the client.

9. It will be great for a designer to have a list of “Things You Should Know” for a client especially if he has never worked with a designer before.

10. Always encourage a client to over communicate. Keeping in touch on a regular basis with a client is great practice to ensure client-designer understanding.

11. Always under-promise and over-deliver.

12. Many clients are dazzled by HGTV makeovers. In real life, things do not happen as they do in a production of a TV show. Clients should be prepared for delays that may happen that are out of the designer’s control, so remind clients kindly to be patient throughout the process.

13. Make sure that the client understands the difference between the role of the contractor and the role of the designer. It is important that the client understands that the designer is not in control of the contractor’s subcontractors work and who shows up for the work.

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