KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Feb 08 2011

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Are your years of experience scaring away clients?

My designer mother and I were in the showroom the other day reviewing a recent client meeting. While we wanted to be positive for the client, we saw some potential problems with the layout and house structure—and said so, perhaps more than we should have.

As my mother said with a sigh, “Years of experience in this field can sure lead to a lot of disclaimers.”

Isn’t that the truth?  For those of you who’ve been in this for years, have you ever noticed that you:

  • have a cautionary tale for every point a client brings up.
  • find yourself saying, “You have to be careful” or “this could be a potential problem” one too many times?
  • review your meetings to see if you offered any enthusiasm…at all?

Having experience is a hard-won gift, yet there’s also a danger in venturing into overly cautious. And it becomes surprisingly easy after a while simply because we’ve seen everything that can go wrong. Like anxious mothers hovering over their babies as they take their first steps, we sometimes prepare so hard to avoid the spills and bumps that we lose the shared joy of that first step.

This is why my mother and I have our reviews. Sure we can show off our knowledge of the client’s home, and bring up hundreds of cautionary tales about previous projects, but unless we balance them with the benefits to the clients—that with the help of our knowledge, they’ll have a  beautiful, functional kitchen or bath to enjoy for years to come—we lose the big picture. For every disclaimer, we have to keep in our heads, “What’s in it for them?”

Until next time,


This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Business, Inspiration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1.  Tammy Dalton |

    Excellent point, Kelly, and something worth reminding ourselves of periodically. Stay positive. And while there are many things that can go wrong, emphasize that they will be safe with you.

  2.  Pete Walker |

    I find that after 35 years I have made virtually every mistake possible in this business.

    Having said that, I’m still vertical and taking solid food.

    The best way to approach the problems you see is not how they are similar to those you have had in the past, but to use how you SOLVED the previous problems to help you focus on the solutions needed in the present situation.

    Also, if you design from the point of view of “bringing order” as opposed to “fighting disorder”, things tend to get easier…one is like wrestling a greased pig, the other is a Jedi mind trick, but a workable one.

    I always tell my clients there will be problems. Saying different is lying. The important thing is how we approach those problems, and how quickly we solve them.

    This is what separates the professional from the…people who have no business in the business.