Too many designers are out here expressing frustrations over their client’s unrealistic expectations for their design process, project timeline, or workload. But often, those unclear expectations actually start with us, the creatives.
Whether we’ve been avoiding the hard conversations for fear of coming off too harsh or didn’t cover enough with our clients in the initial design discovery, it can become very uncomfortable for all to work under unclear or misguided expectations. However, you need to remember that you are the one in charge of helping your client create appropriate, realistic, and profitable expectations from the start of the project. And if your client is struggling with understanding how you work, that lack of understanding may have been there from the start.
Expectations Determine Outcomes
There are so many moving parts that go into a successful design project. And while you may be familiar with these steps, your client may not be as aware. You need to address these upfront, right from the very get-go. Otherwise, you risk your clients creating their own expectations of what your process will look like, rather than understanding your reality.
If you are not leading your client through your entire process and are instead allowing them to lead you, they are going to create false expectations and inaccurate preconceived notions. And that’s going to land you in a great deal of frustration, stress, and even a potential loss of profitability.
Things to Consider When Setting Expectations
You need to disclose the details, the time frame, and the costs clearly and transparently with your clients. Conversations about money can be tough and uncomfortable to have, but it’s important that you don’t avoid them. Money is a tool that we use to create the transformation they want. Without enough of the tool, you don’t get to deliver enough of the transformation.
Clients also need to know upfront what they are to expect from your process–you don’t want to leave them out in the dark. The anticipated project timeframe, for example, impacts your clients in many ways and they need to know the extent. If the process will be lengthy and messy, they may prefer to relocate while the renovation is completed. This is something that should be communicated early on in your design discovery consultation. How collaborative you intend to be with your client should also be established upfront, so your client does not expect more or less than you are comfortable with. And to provide all the clarity and transparency necessary, the most important step is to have a clear, thorough, comprehensive design agreement to map all of these expectations out.
When you’re ready to take your design practice to the next level, explore your expert coaching and training options with Melissa Galt. To catch the entire podcast episode LISTEN HERE.