Affluent Client Psychology – Tips for Interior Designers
This week’s topic is about affluent client psychology. During the Summit, Karen Fisher with Designer Previews, shared some great insights about how the wealthy think about designers. Here are the big take-aways that Erin and I received from Karen’s message:
- Clients are intimidated by interior designers and architects. They don’t want to look bad and appear not to have good taste. They need reassurance, and Karen often says she is their “Design Mother.” It is important to them to think that you understand them and what they want.
- Clients are spoiled according to Karen. Many of the young affluent are savvy business people that have made their money through their business acumen. Most of the time, they are married and both at least half of the wives work. It is important to have your “act together” and provide accurate bills, listen well and deliver what you promise.
- Privacy is critical. The clients don’t want you or your staff talking about them outside of your office. Be very careful about what you say.
- Be diligent about your manners. Be sure to write thank yous and offer small gifts occasionally that show you are thinking about them outside of the traditional business relationship.
- It is important to be clear about costs up front, yet tread very carefully when talking about budget. They don’t want you to think that it is a blank checkbook.
- You are selling a dream.
- The clients really don’t want to hear about your personal life. I would add that some clients want to become friends with you, and if you blur this line too much during the working relationship, it becomes more difficult to get paid for your work because you will want to “take care” of some things for them. This is a business transaction first.
- Be careful not to ask what they do and too many personal questions at the beginning of the relationship.
- Clients need to know they can trust you.
- Real estate vs. possessions it what is important to the younger affluent.
I have watched some designers in action at the design center, and I am often stunned at how they treat their clients as well as showroom staff. Everyone deserves respect and consideration. I don’t want this to sound like a lecture, but our industry has gotten a reputation that is often the result of a select few that don’t understand the rules of common courtesy that Karen discussed. Thankfully, the majority of designers use common sense about this.
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Hand written thank you notes or small and thoughtful gifts go a very long way in making people feel appreciated and important. If you occasionally send a note to your clients to let them know you are thinking about them and that they are more than a paycheck.