how to be an awesome client

Implement these eight strategies and you’ll be an AWESOME design client.

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Helping our clients be awesome is definitely a benefit to WORKSHOP8, but even more than that, it helps our clients get the best possible services on-time and on-budget.

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outline your needs and expectations Write up a project outline that describes what you want to accomplish. Be as detailed as you can. Photos are very helpful!

help us define roles Some clients are super hands on and want to do a bunch of the leg work for their project, others want us to take care of all the details. Let’s be sure to be clear on who is doing what.

read your contract I know, contracts are no fun, but they keep our insurance guy happy. Make sure you read every line and ask us if you have any questions.

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be realistic Those darn remodel shows on television give the impression that a super cool design can be implemented for next to nothing (and in a VERY short amount of time). It just isn’t true. WORKSHOP8 can design something bangin’ for any budget, but it doesn’t do anyone any good for us to work outside of the lines of reality. We don’t want  you to be disappointed with a design you love that you can’t afford—we want to see our designs become a tangible reality!!!

don’t get mad if we tell you, “you can’t afford that” There is an expectation for us to push boundaries, be innovative, and stretch your budget; but sometimes we have to be honest and tell you, “you can’t afford that”. We don’t say this to be mean, we say it to help keep the project on track.

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be an open book If your goals, funding, schedule, or budget change, let us know so we can make adjustments to the process right away. The more time we are working without all of the information, the harder and more painful it can be to get the project back on track.

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ask questions A great client will not hesitate to ask questions when they do not understand a concept or the reasons behind it. If we use a term you don’t understand, then, by all means, let us know. And expect us to ask you a lot of questions too. Our industry is full of acronyms that can be confusing, and sometimes we forget that we are speaking another language.

be responsive A delay in approval or failure to communicate what you do and don’t like can end up costing you more in design fees or lengthen the process, so try to answer our questions as quickly as possible to optimize our time and your investment. If you don’t understand a question, or don’t know how to answer a question, bring this to our attention so we can work through it as a team.

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get to know us Let’s not make everything about business, let’s hang out sometimes and get to know each other on a personal level too. We love having coffee and beer and biking (not all at the same time though) and we’d love to do something like that with you too.

be easy to work with We’re all working towards the same goal, so, like the saying goes, “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,” we can achieve a lot more (and more quickly!) together if we are kind to each other and treat each other with respect. If you go above and beyond as a client, it inspires us to as well; we may even throw in some free work every once in a while in the form of creatively messing around on a project to try out a design concept we really want to explore (even if it’s outside the scope of work) or getting all the W8 minds together to brainstorm about a problem or concept for your project.

be patient It takes time to come up with rockin’ designs that are constructible, beautiful, and within budget. Sometimes we reach the best solution quickly, but sometimes we have to do several iterations.

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be open to criticism This is a tough one for us so we understand that it is also tough for you. We assume that you don’t just want a “yes” person as a designer, you want someone who will challenge your ideas, bring you solutions you haven’t thought of, and flat out tell you when something you want to do with your project is a bad idea. One main part of the job of being a designer is to keep our clients from making mistakes. We’re on the same team and all have the same goal—please don’t take it personally!

own it You can take a while to decide on a design, but once you have, own it. If you must change your mind, understand the implications of additional fee and time.

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enjoy the process Don’t think of your project as a chore, it should be fun for both you and us. Do your best to enjoy the process and have fun with it.

don’t panic The design and construction processes are long and complicated. Even with years of experience, we still come across issues that stump us. Your project is unique and there may be bumps along the design and building process that no one could have predicted. Stick with it! It’s all part of the process.

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additional work means additional pay Although we try our best to budget time and fee to complete every task for your project, sometimes things come up that we didn’t anticipate. If we have to do extra work to complete your project, then we will have to charge for it.

pay on time Invoicing day is my least favorite day of the month. Even though we love what we do, we can’t do it for free. Paying on time helps us keep your project moving forward and keeps me from having to hound you.

sources
In preparing this post, I read a bunch of other blog posts about being a good client:

  1. “How To Be A Good Design Client” on The Visual Republic
  2. “How to be a GREAT Media Relations Client” on FRIDGE
  3. “How to be a Really Good Client and make designers love you, which is actually good for business!” on Number 17
  4. “How to Be a Good Web Design Client” on Business 2 Community
  5. “5 Qualities of a Happy Designer-Client Relationship” on Houzz
  6. “Be a Good Designer, Be a Good Client” on Robots Thoughtbot
  7. “What Makes a Good Designer-Client Relationship: Communication” on Mod-Lab

Thanks for reading and I welcome your questions and comments.

Brandy LeMae
28 February 2016