Timing is Everything
It may be one of the more generic refusals, but that doesn’t mean it’s not legitimate – sometimes you just don’t have the time or bandwidth to take on another project at the moment. If you feel compelled to expand further, you can explain that you’ve had some projects get approved to start since you met with them. Or say that you’re contractually committed to other work that prevents you from accepting theirs, and that signing up to lead their project would be doing them a disservice.
Depending on your client’s timeline needs, there may be an opportunity to work with them in the future, so showing that you're fully committed to your current projects speaks volumes about your integrity.
While it may be hard to turn down projects for your business, it’s also important to remember to keep a healthy work-life balance, especially in these challenging times. This way you can show up and be your best for clients and in your personal life. So don’t be afraid to say no if the timing just isn’t right and you’ll avoid the risk of burnout.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
This classic breakup line can be useful with clients, too. Avoid placing any negativity on the client by telling them you regret that their project is out of your specific area of expertise. It’s OK to admit that you feel a project is not the right fit and share why tactfully and succinctly. Again, communicating with integrity and transparency will highly benefit your business and brand in the long run.
Give a Referral
Just because a client isn’t right for you doesn’t mean they won’t be a good fit for someone else. So think about other designers in your network you could refer them to: an established interior designer with a strong, no-nonsense personality could be the right fit for a more “difficult” client. Or a newbie who is building their client base might be willing to take on a project with a smaller budget.
It’s important to not leave prospective clients out in the cold and to help them as best you can with finding the right connection. So take a little time to do some design world matchmaking, and the good karma will come back to you.