Red Flags to Avoid with Potential Clients


Saying yes to the wrong client can leave you dealing with a string of headaches for the life of your design project. These projects are oftentimes just too long to justify working with a client that is less than ideal (if you can help it). Constantly managing a client that doesn’t trust you depletes your creative energy, and may even make you cynical about future clients. This can result in filling your onboarding documents with clauses to deal with each and every eventuality you’ve experienced in the past, which leaves new clients wondering, “Wow, who hurt you?!?”

We recommend getting crystal clear on the type of projects that you want to do, as well as spending some time defining your brand values. Once you are able to message those things out to prospective clients, you will greatly increase the odds that you and your client are a good fit, even before they reach out to you. Once you do connect with a potential client, here are a few red flags to look out for in order to avoid saying yes to someone who may make your job more difficult than it needs to be:

1. Someone who tries to negotiate your rates.

This person is primarily interested in being in charge and/or getting a deal. They will be difficult to manage the entirety of the project. This person is looking to hire a designer (any designer) that will allow them hold the reins and demand whatever they want throughout the process (while they get a discount!)

2. Someone who tests your skills or knowledge.

This is condescending and rude. Don’t work with people that don’t already value your skills and expertise. You shouldn’t have to prove your worth.

3. Someone whose Pinterest board is NOT aligned with your aesthetic.

No matter how good the money is, it is hard to please a client that doesn’t align with your taste. You will end up deferring to their preferences until the design is unrecognizable and then they will be unhappy if what they said they wanted the entire time doesn’t end up looking magazine worthy.

4. Someone who requires weeks of follow-up to get an answer.

For a project to be successful, you need a client that is committed to the process and is willing to do their part. Good communication is key!

5. Someone who wants to see design work before paying.

This person doesn’t value the time it takes to actually DO a design. They don’t understand how much work goes into selecting and sourcing items and creating custom designs. They will potentially skip out from paying if they don’t like what they see. Avoid!

6. Someone who is also an interior designer.

This client will be overly involved and ultimately wants to be the creative director and have you act as the assistant. They want someone to do the dirty work and tell them everything they select is absolutely perfect.

7. Someone who wants you to play referee in their relationship with their partner.

If a couple isn’t quite on the same page and needs help mixing styles, that’s totally fine! BUT, if they are disrespectful to their partner or want to use you as the tie-breaker to convince the other one to approve any design ideas. Run!

Have you experienced any of the above situations?

We believe one of the best things you can do to attract ideal clients is to describe what projects you want to do and the types of people you want to work with. This helps potential clients recognize that you are the right designer for them and not just any interior designer.

Contact us to schedule a Discovery Call to discuss how to sharpen your message and elevate your brand in order to start booking the projects you want to be doing.


Brand Guide & Checklist

Your branding, coupled with your portfolio, are the main factors in building trust and excitement with prospective clients and potential partners.   Check it out and see if it's time to level up your brand!



Pricing Guide & Audit

Equal parts workbook and instruction manual, our free Pricing Guide will give you specific pricing info to determine how to accurately price your design fees for premium interior design projects.