What to do when the clients didn’t like your work?
This question kept coming up recently, so I thought I will write a post on this, especially when a lot of stagers are doing design work as well. A blog reader recently asked this:
“How to you handle clients (realtor or homeowner) who don’t like the staging you do? Especially the ones who have very personalized taste and don’t go according to designer’s point of view.”
First, are you designing or staging?
There is a clear difference between staging and designing. When you asked the question, you used the word “designer.”
When you are staging, you are not staging for the existing homeowners, you are staging for the buyers. We make design decisions based on the target buyers' ideal lifestyles. Staging is short-term work and you make the decision on what to put into the home, not your clients.
When you are doing design work, this work is usually on a long-term timeline. Your project make take several months, even years. You have to keep meticulous records of client receipts, communications, etc. to make sure you and the clients are on the same page.
In this scenario, you have to take clients’ opinions into account. Ultimately, the client has to live with your design decisions day in and day out. So if you are doing design work, it is important for you to make sure that your clients are happy with the design decisions.
How to respond to sellers when they don’t like the staging
First, take a deep breath and bring yourself back to the mindset that you are running a business. Don’t take the comments personally, but really take into the account why the client may be unhappy.
Reach out to your client and find out what they don’t like about the staging.
Sometimes the clients are unhappy because they don’t understand the difference between living in the home vs. staging to appeal to today’s buyers. Like what you had mentioned in your question, the seller had very specific and personalized taste.
If that’s the scenario, calmly explain and defend your decisions in a professional manner. Explain that you made the decision to do X, Y, and Z because based on your research of the potential buyers of this home, this type of styling will appeal to the buyers the most.
You can respond with something like:
Thank you so much for taking the time to give me feedback on our staging for your property. I understand that there are a few things that you don’t like and may have questions about.
Before I staged your property, I had visited your neighborhood, did some research, and discussed with your realtor on who the potential buyers would be for your property. Based on my research, the key demographic that would buy your home is a young couple in their early 30s with young children. I made the decision to [do X, Y, Z] because I felt that they will be best suited for this buyer’s demographic. I also looked at comparable properties that your listing would be competing against, and I felt that this was the best presentation to target the buyers.
In my experiences staging properties similar like yours, this is the best way to stage the home to appeal to your potential buyers. My track record proves this as well. [Insert your stat here]
I understand that since you have lived in the home for awhile, and this may be an adjustment for you. I would be happy to discuss this further over the phone with you.
Have a great day,
Sometimes the clients have legitimate reasons and perhaps you had missed your mark on this particular staging. If it is indeed your fault, apologize and fix it immediately. If you own up to your mistakes and fix it quickly, the clients usually are forgiving.
Sometimes you may encounter clients who are having a difficult time in their lives and are taking it out on you. Again, don’t take it personally. This is business. Calmly respond to your clients and listen to them. In the meanwhile, keep meticulous records of your correspondence just in case the situation escalate. (Yes, some clients can be completely irrational and crazy! In this case, keep being professional and keeping records of everything will be the best thing to do.)
Lastly, say it with confidence!
One of the key lessons I learned from teaching and podcasting is that how you deliver the words make a huge impact on how well it goes with your audience. In a way, it’s an energy exchange.
If I don’t believe in what I am saying, I lack confidence and it shows up unconsciously in my voice. Then people will not be very open to what I am saying. Or they will reject it without knowing why they feel a bit defensive or uneasy about it.
If I deliver my content with confidence, my voice will naturally show excitement and passion. Then it is infectious. Most of the time, people will naturally respond to what I am saying positively.
You have done the work in the home, you had made the decisions because you believed they were the best thing to sell that house. Stand behind your decision. If the clients come to you and question your choice of the rug, or whatever it is, you need to be able to have a rationale and reason behind it.
There were times where the clients questioned my choice of inventory, I simply explained why I did that calmly with a smile. Most of the times, clients accepted my explanation because I showed that I had expertise in this area and this was my professional opinion in helping them sell.
You are here to help the clients to sell the house. Believe in yourself! And deliver your reasoning with confidence.