Today, I’m sharing an interesting comment I received recently on an old blogpost of mine, written in 2013.
It was from a disgruntled client of an interior designer who had some complaints that stemmed from a lack of explanation of the designer’s process, as well as perhaps, the designer getting in a little over her head.
This client found my blog and the explanation of my furniture shipping and receiving process, no doubt after googling around on the internet, and asked me some questions.
Her questions dealt with receiving of goods meant for a remodel construction project and whose role was it to receive those goods.
So, this blogpost today is about a few things really:
Describing your processes and making clients aware.
Supplying product to jobs and how you need to carefully think through all the aspects of responsibility when you procure.
Designing a business you love that rids you of the parts of the job you don’t like and keeps the parts that are your strengths.
So, lots of topics here. :-)
Anticipate client expectations using your blog for further information
If you’ve read this blog for interior designers here much, you might recall that I think one of the best types of content to create for any designer with a website, are blogposts explaining your processes.
A well-written blogpost can go in depth, explaining how things work in your business. They can often go into more detail, with images, personal stories, etc., and are better able to give a more clear picture of how things work, than a paragraph in a contract.
(Not that the paragraph in a contract is not needed, but further information with a more enjoyable story, is always a good thing.)
And once that is written, you can just send a link to a potential client to share the info.
Better yet, even someone who hasn’t contacted you yet can read it, if it is easily found, and see if they like the way your process works.
I recently sent potential clients this link about why I have to go through my design process with complete drawings and specs for a remodel, and this link about how I do photography at the end of a job, so they were aware of my expectations in the project.
Now, I have no idea who this designer was that the reader was referring to, I don’t want to know.
But I imagine it was someone rather new to the business who hadn’t gone through the procurement part of the process before, with a job of this size.
You can see how this client was not happy with how things were being handled.
Don’t let this happen to you! (Keep reading here, I’ll share the link below.)
Be Prepared To Follow Through On Items You Procure
For all the newbies out there, this is one of several reasons I don’t sell products that have to be installed by contractors.
DELIVERY AND STORAGE of those items is expensive and a hassle and has to be dealt with if you supply the product.
If your client is living in at their remodel, you will need to coordinate delivery with them or the contractor who is installing, to make sure someone is there to receive and that there is ample room for that storage.
BTW, one of the services that all the contractors I work with provide, is pick up of materials or arranging for delivery and receipt of product. That’s included in their scope of work.
However, if they aren’t buying the product, then why should they pick it up and be responsible for it?
If you inform them before they do their bid that they need to receive and / or pick up products that you or the homeowner purchases, and let them know what items they are, then they can put that into their contract or fee.
I would not assume they would make themselves responsible for that service though, if they did not buy the product.
3 Instances That Made Me Rethink Supplying Products That Had To Be Installed By A Contractor
It only took me about 2-3 times selling tile (that required delivery on pallets with a forklift or needed a big, muscle-y person and a truck to pick up heavy boxes of tile for a job) to realize that pick up and delivery of this type of item is a whole different ball game to deal with.
Procuring a large light fixture from a quality vendor that came in with the threading off, 3 times in a row, so that one of the stems looked permanently crooked, was another such incident. And there was extra expense with electrician costs, as you couldn’t tell each time that it was crooked, until it was actually put together and hung!
Another instance that put me off of this kind of procurement, was supplying a large lantern for a two story foyer where the electrician broke one of the glass panels trying to get it into place.
The tiny brackets that were welded on to the lantern to hold the glass on one panel, were welded too tightly, and the glass just popped when he was trying to put into place.
This wasn’t the electrician’s fault, it was the manufacturer’s. It was my situation to deal with though, since I had supplied it. I had to pay for another electrician visit with his 2 story elevator thing again, to install the replacement. :-(
Needless to say, on those jobs, time was wasted on returns and replacements on these big items, there were extra delivery charges and then of course, the installation costs. :-(
Making these situations right cost me a lot of money.
Along with all the finger pointing that can go on if something goes wrong with the product if the installer messes up something that you’ve supplied, etc., this can be a big financial risk if you aren’t bringing in the kind of cash flow to cover things like this.
Handling this part of a project is basically just “coordination”.
I realized I hated dealing with issues like this.
It was distracting from our main focus and wasn’t worth it to me for the smaller amount of profit made on this kind of product (not the same profit margin as custom furnishings), to procure.
I don’t want to coordinate. I didn’t go to design school and work for all these years honing my expertise in design so I could do scheduling and logistics for construction.
I didn’t want any of the time spent in my business to be taken up dealing with stuff like this. I’d rather our time be spent on creative, design-focused endeavors.
Because if I’m scheduling a tile delivery, or someone in my business is, then we’re taking time away from doing design.
If you want that kind of responsibility and want to spend your business time there, then I certainly respect you! If you are making enough money to be able deal with all the problems that can happen (even when buying from reputable, vetted vendors), then that’s great!
I know there are designers out there who have this down pat. I know they are on board for this kind of work. I know they can do it well and find it profitable.
It’s not for me.
I want to spend my time in design. That’s what I’m best at. That’s why people hire me.
Here’s the upside, which really, you never hear about.
The only reason I’m sharing is because I just want to make you aware there are optional ways to deal with products out there these days.
I ask my clients to let the contractor buy all the products for construction, because they are expected to warranty the products and installation. I want my clients to call the contractor when a faucet leaks or the countertop gets stained, not me.
Sometimes clients still want to buy plumbing fixtures or lighting on their own, however. As long as the contractor is okay with it, then that is fine with me. I can provide affiliate links from Build.com for some items.
I just went back to photograph a job and the client complained about a Hudson Valley wall sconce that wasn’t working properly.
Guess what? Luckily, I don’t have to deal with that.
Why? Because she bought that and supplied it to the contractor. I selected it and she bought it direct from Build.com.
That replacement would entail my time and cost and scheduling of electrician visits if she had purchased that through me. I guarantee my contractor wouldn’t be providing electrical services for free for a faulty fixture provided by someone else.
I just keep thinking about that designer and all that stuff being delivered to the house and the unhappy client.
What if something is wrong with even one item she had delivered? Do you think the contractor will help her work it out? Not likely.
Read the post and the comments.