As an interior designer, your job is to reimagine spaces and help clients bring their design ideas to life. Whether you engage in a residential or commercial project, you step into a space, see its unique story unfold in your mind, and come up with the best way to turn it into a reality.
Your creative mind can transform any space into a magnificent haven, whether it’s a boring office, an outdated kitchen, or an entire home desperate for a redo. And every part of that creative process is something you can probably do in your sleep.
But negotiating with clients? That’s a whole other story.
Some client negotiations can be seamless, but the other side of the coin can often be more challenging than all the other project stages put together.
It’s safe to say you wish you could skip that part and get straight to designing. But, alas, you can’t, so you need to know how to do it right.
Read up on our essential negotiation tips that will help you ease every client’s mind, keep your sanity intact, and maximize your profits.
Showing your previous work is the most important part of every client negotiation. How else are they going to determine if you’re the right person for the job?
You need to show them what you’re made of, because talking about your skills and experience isn’t enough (if at all) proof of your abilities. No one would like to hire an interior designer without looking at their work first and potentially ending up with a poorly designed space.
So, create a rich portfolio that will showcase your best work. Remember that it’s not about showcasing all your work but rather highlighting the masterpieces that make you stand out.
Include versatile projects to show off your extensive skill set. Make it unique and captivating, incorporate important project details, and include feedback from satisfied clients.
If you’re a 3D interior designer, create a serious 3D artist portfolio that will showcase your most brilliant 3D visualizations. It will be your best brand ambassador that will leave your clients speechless.
Project costs are not something you should discuss when meeting with a client for the first time. You can talk about the overall budget estimates without going into any cost specifics, but only if the client brings it up.
Your initial consultation should be all about connecting with the client, talking about design ideas and project goals, and forging a meaningful relationship.
That’s what they’re going to remember when they sit down to evaluate their options, especially if they’ve met or planned on meeting with other interior designers. They’re going to remember how you made them feel, how creative your design approach is, and whether they can trust you to bring their ideas to life.
It’s all about trust. No one will trust you with their ideas if they don’t feel comfortable during your initial meeting.
So, gain their trust by getting to know them better, inspiring them with your creativity and expertise, and demonstrating your skills through general design advice.
Talking rates right away would only make the consultation seem like a transaction when it should be a meeting for determining if the two of you fit together well.
We cannot stress this enough. You are the project’s artist, but you’re not designing a space for yourself. Your client’s ideas always come first, so listen closely to what they have to say.
Talk about your skills and the creative process, particularly when showing your portfolio. But don’t overwhelm the client with that information and impose your ideas. You need to design a space that they’ll fall in love with, a space that they will use.
So, learn everything about the vision they have in mind, and only then come up with ways to realize it.
Talking about their ideas is crucial for determining if you’re the right fit for each other. If you only design luxury or minimalist homes, you may not be the right person to design an industrial-style loft.
And if your design style doesn’t match your client’s, it’s okay to turn them down.
It’s better to give a project a pass than to invest time and effort in it and get your client’s hopes up, only to fail miserably and deliver unsatisfactory results. You wouldn’t be able to showcase your excellent interior design skills, and you’d end up hurting your reputation.
If you’re not a good match for each other, refer them to an interior designer who can meet their needs. It’s a good and honest practice that can help you build a strong reputation and even get more business. Those designers are certain to return the favor when they stumble upon a project that’s perfect for you but not suitable for them.
If you’re a forward-thinking interior designer, you probably don’t rely only on sketches and drawings. You utilize 3D rendering software to visualize clients’ ideas before starting any project.
If you still haven’t gotten around to it, now’s the time. Pick the best 3D rendering software for your needs and master all its features. Learning to use several different tools is a huge plus because you may encounter a client that expects you to work with a specific tool.
But why create 3D visualizations for interior design projects? Glad you asked.
Let’s go over some of the most important 3D visualization benefits that every interior designer should know.
With 3D rendering software, you can create photorealistic 3D renders that help clients see how their space will look before you even start designing it.
You can visualize the most intricate details, making your 3D renders seem as if they were shot with a camera. You can tap into clients’ emotions and show why you’re the right person for the job.
Almost every interior design project starts that way nowadays. Most clients even expect you to visualize their project before giving you the green light. It helps them make the right decision and determine if you’re on the same page.
Many people are indecisive when it comes to interior design projects. Some may not have a clear idea in mind, while others have a bunch of different ideas and have trouble picking one.
They may spend months shopping for an interior designer who ticks all their boxes.
If you present them with stunning 3D visualizations, you can expedite the approval process. You can showcase many different styles and visualize rooms from every angle, compelling them to imagine themselves living or working there. That’s how you can evoke positive emotions and entice them to sign on the dotted line.
Sometimes, a client has a clear idea of their desired interior design. Other times, they have a general idea for the space but don’t really know what they want the specifics to look like. That’s where your imagination comes in.
But what if they don’t like the end result? With 3D visualization, you can ensure they do.
That’s because you can make countless digital alterations seamlessly until you get on the same wavelength. You don’t need to make sketches from scratch and go back and forth a dozen times until you create a design they’ll love.
As a 3D interior designer, you’re like a time lord who can take clients into the future to show them how the project will unfold. With such a power of foresight, you can identify potential problems before they even appear on the horizon and stop them in their tracks.
Let’s say a client decides on a blue color for the bedroom walls, only to end up hating it and requesting the contractor to repaint the walls. Or they choose a piece of furniture that turns out too big for the space.
Worst-case scenario? Certain design flaws may arise that mess with the electrical, plumbing, and fire protection system plans.
With 3D visualization, you can pinpoint and avoid such potential mistakes and coordinate with other contractors to ensure a flawless design.
Unless you’re just starting out, you know that interior design projects can be time-consuming. If a client requests multiple changes, the project can stretch even longer than expected, thus costing more money.
But when you visualize it beforehand, you can complete it within the original deadline and budget.
That’s because of all the benefits mentioned above. In doing so, you can improve client satisfaction, get more referrals, and increase your profitability.
Once you and your prospective client know you’re a good fit for one another, it’s time to talk about the project’s costs. Clearly, you should do it before creating all those 3D visualizations, preferably during your follow-up meeting.
It’s essential to be honest and transparent when talking about your rates without leaving out anything. You wouldn’t want to surprise your client with hidden costs down the line because that’s just bad business.
Be straightforward from the get-go to let the client know what they can expect. If your rates turn out to be too high for their budget, it’s better to know right away before both of you make investments.
When discussing your fees, explain them in detail to help clients know what they’re paying for. Explaining all the bells and whistles will put your time and effort into perspective and show the true value of your work.
Pro tip: never negotiate your fees. Keep your integrity and credibility intact and charge everyone the same. Treat every client fairly because one client’s money isn’t greener than the next person’s.
Stay true to your pricing and all the hard work you invest in designing people’s dream homes, offices, restaurants, or any other space. Know your worth, and don’t negotiate it.
If a client’s ideas don’t make sense, don’t be afraid to speak your mind. If you voice concerns, they’ll appreciate and respect you more. After all, you’re an interior design professional who knows what they’re doing.
If anything seems impractical or simply can’t be done, kindly explain that to your client. Help them understand the disadvantages, and suggest better, realistic ideas.
Once they realize their mistake and your solution’s value, they’ll gladly accept your recommendations and be grateful they picked you for the job.
How is your client going to use the space you’re designing? What are their ultimate goals and objectives, and how do they want to achieve them? What feelings do they wish the space to evoke? What is it that inspires them about that particular space? What’s the story that their interior design project should tell?
These are only some questions you should ask your client. Learn everything you can about their goals to ensure you reach them and exceed their expectations.
Most importantly, make sure your design tells your client’s unique story.
As famous interior designer David Hicks once said, “The best rooms have something to say about the people who live in them.”
As we talked about earlier, client negotiations can be challenging. There’s a lot of ground to cover to make sure you’re on the same page, and you stay on the right track.
That often requires a boatload of patience, especially when dealing with indecisive or otherwise difficult clients.
As an interior designer, you must be a paragon of patience. You can’t let a potential misunderstanding get the best of you and make you lose your cool. No matter what obstacle gets in your way, overcome it carefully and with professionalism.
When you’re patient and can solve problems with kindness and efficiency, you’ll achieve much better results and build stronger relationships with clients. They don’t say that patience is a virtue for nothing.
Negotiating with clients as an interior designer doesn’t have to be a difficult feat. It has its share of challenges, but it can be as seamless as all your designs, as long as you apply all our tips.
Feeling more confident to negotiate with clients now? Step into your power and treat the world with your unique creativity!