I know it's a huge pain in the "you know what" when you've been working with your design client and all of a sudden you encounter a disruptive pest. I like to call these Nosey Neighbors and Horrible Husbands.
The absolute best way to prevent this annoying occurance is by addressing it during your Commitment Chat. That's exactly why I recomend that you have that talk in the first place. So that you can control your design process and avoid these common pitfalls that we old designers have had to endure.
While you're laying out your process, and obtaining your new clients commitment, you need to ask the simple question, "Who will be involved in the buying and decision making process?" Make them tell you if there is anyone else who should be involved in this adventure. Not WILL there be, but SHOULD there be. That's an important distinction. I remind them that they can speak now or forever hold their peace. It's going to be too much work and we will be moving quickly through decisions. There won't be enough time to switch directions towards the end. Now get them to agree. Not only with a promise, but also by signing your contract and giving you a deposit check.
Listen, you can’t be mad at someone for having their neighbor show up unannounced at the presentation. Even if you didn’t expect them to be there, you'll just have to roll with it and face the obtrusion face on.
Just remember, this is a really big deal in someone’s life. They want to make sure their friend isn’t being taken advantage of. And let's face it, working with a designer is exciting.
Like we talked about before, on HGTV they’ve created this wonderful drama around our industry. Women want to be a part of that. That’s okay. Simply welcome them and include them in the presentation.
“I love that you get to see Sally’s new room. Oh my gosh! She’s going to love it. This is everything we’ve talked about. It was so great to work with Sally. She and I really got into her dream room.”
You’re reminding them, “This isn’t about you. You may be sitting here watching, but you’re just an observer. This is about Sally. This is her room and all of this work we’ve done.”
With the husbands it’s more of, “All right, Bob. You wanted to come and sit with us. That’s great. You should see all these things we took into consideration with you in mind. Sally and I worked so hard to make sure that this is a room you can relax in. You’re going to be able to watch your golf on Sundays. You’re going to love it. She and I put a lot of attention into that.”
They’re not here to throw a wrench in it and ruin this experience. Think about that. And it’s okay to add a little guilt.
“Sally has been working so hard. I know she’s so excited to show you. She wants to make sure you love it. She really feels good about this room we’ve done. We’ve worked really hard on it. I can’t wait to show you. You’re going to love what she’s picked out for you.”
You’re not being sneaky. They’re all true statements. You just have to remind people that now is not the time to come in and all of a sudden have an opinion, because they weren’t there as part of the planning.
It’s like the little red hen. If you aren’t going to be there to plant the seeds, sow the seeds and bake the bread, you don’t get to eat the bread in the end. I’m never rude about it, but I do gently remind them of that.
Let’s say that you have a husband who suddenly wants to see his proposed family room. You can say, “Look at this, Bob. We made sure that this seat deck was 3 inches deeper than your last sofa because Sally said you really like to lie down and watch golf on Sundays. It’s going to be so great. It’s really deep. You will finally get to kick back and relax.”
If it’s a neighbor, you include them by saying, “Look at this wallpaper we picked. Sally said red was her favorite color and it’s going to be so dramatic. She said she really wanted to make a statement with it. I know she’s going to love it. Isn’t this fantastic? Your friend is going to be so happy.”
Make it positive and upbeat. You don’t want to make them feel like they’re an outsider or they’re intruding. It sounds harsh, but they don’t get an opinion.
You see it happen over and over again. By talking about your client and reminding them of your client’s wants and needs, you’re subtly telling them, “Listen, this isn’t about you. You don’t get an opinion now.”