Most Clients Don’t Know Baloney About Their Budgets

BaloneyAsking clients for their interior design “budget” wastes their time – – and yours.

Budget questions limit their thinking — and your income.

That’s the message I will pass on in a speech to an organization of design professionals this month. And I don’t expect that it will be well received, considering that the organization preaches the gospel of discussing the “B” word with clients as early as possible, and as often as possible.

Bad idea, I say.

It’s not just that most clients don’t know their budget for design.

They don’t even have a clue.

That’s why it makes absolutely no sense to ask clients up front what they want or expect or plan on spending for new home furnishings, a kitchen and bath remodel, etc.

You do your customers a disservice by forcing them to come up with and keep their minds on some random budget numbers.

Zeroing in only on those numbers limits their choices, and may prevent you from showing them the fabric or flooring or furniture options that would best meet their needs.

Customers hire you not as a financial adviser, but as a design consultant.

Your job is not to fix their finances. It’s to help them identify their design priorities, needs and wants, and provide the products and services that will fulfill them.

You earn your customers trust by informing them of your qualifications. And by explaining how you charge for your expertise. And by advising them to look elsewhere if they’re seeking the cheapest design services and products.

As the best, it’s your responsibility to inform your customers of the best options — whatever the price. Not until they find that price unsatisfactory should you advise them of less worthy but cheaper alternatives.

Surely you want to present your clients with good value at a fair price. But they can’t make an informed decision on how best to spend their money until you’ve identified and presented solutions to their design challenges.

Focusing exclusively on budget cheats your customer, and also prevents you from earning the fees and margins you deserve.

There’s a word for that:


Fred Berns is an interior design industry sales and marketing coaching and copywriter.

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