Karen Gastle

One of the greatest challenges interior designers face is the daily task of managing customers’ expectations. In order for a business to run smoothly, designers must understand what expectations clients have and the necessary tools, timeline, and required budget to get the job done.

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For many reasons, this makes managing customers’ expectations one of the most important skillsets an interior designer must have. For the sake of your business and your customers, read on to see why it’s so important for interior designers to effectively manage customers’ expectations.

Help Clients Reach Their Goals

People turn to interior designers when they need help—after all, they know a professional will be the best aid when it comes to perfecting any living space. They have goals for their homes and they trust you to help reach them. However, in order for a designer to best serve their clients, it’s important they have a through understanding of exactly what the client wants.


In order to manage expectations and help clients reach their goals, it’s best practice to sit down and establish what clients would like to see as a finished product. As the designer, this will help you plan a timeline and budget. You could also start creating mood boards for visualization. For the customer, this gives them a clear indication of what they can expect from the experience and how it will come to life.

Manage Budget and Timeline

Once you understand what your customer has in mind for their project, it’s your job to come up with the budget and timeline. This is where you must consider things such as, other projects you have on the go, shipping times and costs, any expenses required, and the timing you’ll spend on the project. You’ll need a clear visualization of the workflow in order to understand how long this new project will take and how much it will cost. Otherwise, you might create a timeline that’s too short—pushing expectations to a date or price that’s unachievable.


Many interior designers have begun working with business management software that’s designed specifically for interior designers. This software allows designers to visualize workflows, manage timing, and create financial statements all from one program. Not only will this help you stay organized, but it will help you manage expectations, too.

Builds Your Reputation

When customers are satisfied, you can bet they’ll tell friends and family. In fact, 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know directly. Meaning one satisfied customer easily become two or three new customers. For interior designers, building your reputation is vital to business success.

Managing your customers’ expectations is one easy way to ensure projects are always finished on a positive note, increasingly the likelihood of a referral and positive word of mouth.

Limit Stress (For Everyone)

Trusting someone else to design your home can be stressful. Add increasing budgets, surprise costs, and forever extending deadlines, and clientss could begin to feel defeated. As an interior designer, it’s important that you manage your client’s expectations to limit the number of bumps both parties experience down the road.

To reduce stress for both you as the designer and your clients, set clear expectations. Create a calendar for timelines and a spreadsheet for costs. Do whatever it takes to ensure your clients understand exactly what they can expect and the steps throughout the process. Keep lines of communication open and explain any potential obstacles.


At the end of the day, managing expectations is important for ensuring your projects are completed on time, on budget, and looking beautiful—leading to more satisfied customers and helping you grow your business.

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Karen Gastle

As an account manager, Karen has experience working with design firms of all sizes to integrate DesignDocs to streamline business processes, increase administrative efficiencies, and deliver higher profits.
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