Are Your “Affluent Client” Ready?

By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University

Clients come in all varieties, it’s true. Some of my best clients and some of my worst clients have been very well off financially. Still, as a group, affluent clients have certain traits that we as designers need to bear in mind, especially if you are new to this type of client.

Affluent clients often have ambiguous feelings about working with an interior designer. On the one hand, they want your advice and respect your professional expertise. On the other hand, they fear losing control over the project and can be overly demanding and micromanaging. They are used to being in charge and making decisions, and so may regard you more as a consultant than a practitioner. Before you agree to take on the job, be sure you are both clear on who is managing the project and making which types of decisions.

Successful and confident, affluent clients nonetheless may feel intimidated or apprehensive when working with a designer for the first time. They worry that you will judge their taste, their home and their possessions unfavorably, and/or that you may try to exploit their wealth. Consequently, they may seem overly anxious or defensive. Look for opportunities to compliment them and reassure them that you are there to act in their best interest.

Wealthy though they may be, most affluent clients are very careful and conscientious about how they spend their money. Don’t be surprised if they question your recommendations and probe for additional information or explanations for your choices. In their eyes they are only doing their due diligence. Make your answers clear, forthright and to the point.

By now, we are used to clients comparing prices and shopping for furnishings and fixtures online. Affluent consumers rank among the highest users of mobile and internet technology, and of online searchers and shoppers. Be prepared to discuss pricing, mark ups, and who is going to buy what and why.

Today’s wealthy consumers, particularly affluent millennials, have a very different attitude toward luxury, consumption and professional services. They are not interested in having a lot of possessions or in buying the most expensive or prestigious item they can afford. They value quality, craftsmanship, uniqueness, possessions that reflect their taste and values, and doing good and supporting their “community,” whether local or virtual. Provide them with attentive personalized service, responsive and succinct communication, and solutions that exceed their expectations.  Act the professional, and they will treat you like one.

Join us on LinkedIn in our special group for Interior Designers and let’s continue the conversation about working with affluent clients.

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