The New York Institute of Art and Design offers online interior design course and because we do, we like to provide free tips for aspiring designers. Enjoy!
As an interior design student excited to get started in the industry, it is extremely exciting to book your first real client after graduation. However, before you start celebrating, remember to pause and consider the smartest way to proceed as a cautious businessperson. In any interaction with a new client, it’s always important to develop and sign some sort of cohesive agreement on paper- if not; you could wind up being swindled down the road when promises of specific payments are broken. Getting started, here are 5 things to consider when forming your first letter of agreement:
1. Be Brief- Letters of agreement should be concise and to the point- most are only one page in length. All you need to include are some general terms of the relationship you’re going to have with said client- all specific further details are spelled out separately in invoice forms.
2. Use a Letterhead- These letters should all be neatly typed and printed on your brand’s letterhead. This is professional and shows consistency and legitimacy to your clients.
3. Don’t be Aggressive- Don’t bring this letter with you the very first time you meet a new prospective client. They haven’t agreed to employ you yet and it may come off as pushy or abrasive. Meet them once, and if they ask for your professional design services, prepare it for them and let them know you’ll be delivering it to them in the coming days.
4. Don’t be Late- As we mentioned above, presenting the letter too soon is unprofessional, but possibly even more so would be to present the letter too late. If you tell a client you’re going to have it in their mailbox tomorrow, that means tomorrow- not in 3 days. This is one of the first impressions of punctuality and dependability you’re giving this person, so make it a positive one.
5. Be Tactful- If you’re working with a married couple, don’t forget to address the letter to both of them. This is a common mistake we see in the industry and an easy one to avoid. It’s not necessary for both partners to sign, but it’s still tasteful to address it to both regardless.