The Dreaded Supply Chain Issues: 4 Tips for Discussing With Clients
Y'all… I am right here with you, an interior designer, throwing my hands up in the air and falling on my knees while yelling, "when will it ever stop?!" I mean… maybe I'm not being that dramatic out in the open, but it's definitely going down like that in my imagination.
I'm talking about supply chain issues… and seriously, when will it ever stop?! Clearly, there's not a straightforward answer to that question. And we're not really getting an explanation as to why this is happening either- sure, it's partially fallout from the pandemic, amongst other things, but at this point, the "why" doesn't even matter.
The fact of the matter is that supply chain issues and product delays are here, and that's not changing any time soon. I'm approaching this problem with a solution-oriented mindset, accepting these as speed bumps in my design process. I've created a plan for discussing these with clients, and I want to help you do the same. Keep reading for how I navigate supply chain issues with clients.
Accept Delays as Part of Your Timeline
Acceptance has to be the first step in your process so you can effectively communicate these delays to your clients. Just know that things are moving slowly, and make sure to relay that to your clients from the get-go.
Be upfront with the expected dates, but remind your clients that this could change at any moment- as in, this date will more than likely be pushed back. Don't give them any false hopes when it comes to supply chain issues. That'll only put you in a pickle down the road.
This should all be communicated right away during your planning phase. I cannot stress this part enough… prep your clients for change. Encourage them to stay fluid. When you feel this yourself, it's easier to put that mindset out there for your clients, too.
Update Your Contract
"Product delays" is really a nice way of saying production is moving at a snail's pace. There at this point, if production and shipping are consistently taking 6+ months, that's just how it is now, right? These new timelines directly impact pricing, and you have to account for this in your contract.
It's time to go over your contract with a fine-tooth comb and your best eagle eyes. If you don't account for these pricing changes, your profit will take a huge hit, leading to other challenges for your interior design business… no thank you. You can approach this by adding clauses regarding delivery fees and dates, with room to adjust later.
When you present this to your client, it's imperative that you go over these in person and with great detail. Even if this is someone you've done work with before or they assure you that they understand, you should still talk through this. It's the only way to prevent any future issues… and I don't know any interior designers that don't like thwarting potential issues before they start.
There's no such thing as over communication here. I'm not saying you need to provide your clients with emails and phone calls for every single update that occurs, but a weekly email update is a must.
The goal here is not to just keep your clients in the loop about their project but it also establishes that very important thing called trust. Also, consistent updates will help eliminate a little bit of the back and forth that will inevitably send you into at least one major spiral.
Keep Your Receipts
This is kind of a no-brainer and something you're used to doing anyway, but having tangible evidence and a paper trail really helps ease clients' minds… and your own! The people on our favorite reality shows aren't wrong when they say it, and it definitely applies here- always keep your receipts.
You don't need to share the nitty-gritty details and pricing information with your clients, of course. But you can share production and shipping updates. Doing this is another way to build the trust you need with your clients.
If you have a particularly "curious" client that really "appreciates" more information…meaning they're really on you about the shipping delays, you can always send them industry updates and stories from credible sources to help them see firsthand these issues are global.
Shipping delays and supply chain issues are just one of the many, many challenges we're facing as interior design business owners. I'm right here with you as a designer and business owner, experiencing these same roadblocks. And I know how these can contribute to feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and underpaid as an interior designer.
When I started my firm, it took me a while to figure out how to run an interior design business profitably - without running myself into the ground. Once I figured out the secret sauce — simple, elegant processes for doing great work and making great money — I knew I had to share it with other designers since no one was willing to do that for me.
I'm here to show you how to increase their rates, work less, make more, and say yes to the really good clients (who bring the best projects and the best budgets!)- it's all part of my Interior Design Business Bakery. Click here to learn more and start building a beautiful, profitable interior design business you love — one that will love you back!