Communication is Key
When starting out a new relationship with your design professional, it is important to set the ground rules and expectations. Every client is different. Every designer is different. We all bring different skills sets, different levels of experience with renovation and relocation projects, and different levels of desire regarding being hands-on or hands-off and level of involvement in the project. In the ideal situation, these rules and expectations would have been addressed before the design professional had finalized their proposal and contract, given that these variables do affect the amount of time and level of handholding required by the designer, which ultimately affect fees.
What Type of Client Are You?
There are always extremes in any situation as well as extremes in any working relationship. Some clients are very hands-on to the point of micro-managing the design professional. This extreme is not helpful in allowing the designer to effectively use their creativity in developing a unique design solution. The other extreme is the “laissez faire” client who is totally hands off. This client-type doesn’t give the designer enough information and feedback to define the project’s goals and objectives and design parameters. Frequently this type of client is unengaged in the process and not available when you need them. This extreme in client style is extremely frustrating to the designer who is left wondering if they are headed in the right direction and creating a design that the client will be happy with. An un-engaged client can also slow down the approval process and ultimately slow down the overall project schedule. The best type of client for a design professional is one who is engaged in the process and trusts the design professional to use their experience, expertise, and best judgement in developing creative design solutions based on guidelines and directions identified in the visioning and programming interview processes.
What Type of Design Professional Should You Be Working With?
Design professionals, and their firms, have many different styles. Finding the right match for your organization is critical to a good working relationship and a successful end product. Here is a short test to determine which kind of design professional style and personality you should be looking for:
Which of the following is most important to your organization in the selection of a design professional for your future facility? (place a number from 1 to 5 next to each item based on the importance to you and your internal decision-makers, with a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being an important consideration.) This exercise can help you evaluate design firms if you are considering multiple firms.
Using a big-name firm. It’s the “safe” choice ___
Using an experienced professional who listens to your needs and responds with appropriate design solutions ___
Selecting a cost-effective firm regardless of the qualifications or the actual personnel working on your project ___
Using a firm that was recommended by a peer or colleague ___
Using a firm that has a portfolio that has images that appeal to you ___
Just trusting your gut feeling when interviewing the actual team members that you will be working with ____