8 Ideas to Get More Interior Design Referrals

 In Articles, Best Practices, Business, Communication, Continuing Education, Creativity, Entrepreneurship, Inspiration, Interior Design, Life Balance, Marketing, News, Notes, Uncategorized

People always ask me how to get more referrals.   Most of us tend to look for one big magic idea that we think somehow slipped passed us that will solve it all.   But it’s the small, simple, organic things – like making their lives easier – that move your clients to talk about you to their friends.  Research shows 98% of your business comes from referrals and it is exponentially more expensive to get a new client outside a personal referral.  So, spend your time, energy and money nurturing your best clients.   Below are 8 ideas that will bring you more business than you know what to do with AND you will have a blast!

It starts with three premises. 

First, use these ideas only for your “perfect profile clients”.   If you apply these techniques with clients that you do not want more of, then you will more clients that you don’t want!

Second, redefine yourself as a problem solver using interior design as just one of your tools!   Said differently, help solve all types of your problems that your clients’ face.   When you remind your clients how much you know and care about them sprinkling solutions across months at a time, you strengthen that positive connection and activate their desire to help you too. They sell your talent better than any social media, print or digital campaign ever could.

Third, create each idea out of the daily struggles of your client.  If you look at your top 5 favorite clients, you will see a pattern of struggles they share.  Take time to know what weighs heavy on their mind.  Allow your ideas to bubble up from that consideration.  Solving your clients’ problems is the key to referrals.

My Top 8 Ideas: 


#1: Build a client wish list.  Be attentive during the design process and make a list of the items the wife wanted but didn’t buy.  It could be a piece of art, a room renovation or a rug.  Before an anniversary, Valentine’s Day, her birthday or a major holiday, call the husband and offer a solution for a great gift!


#2  Create a human-interest story out of the problem you solved for your client and submit it to your favorite magazine (El Décor, House Beautiful, local magazine….).  Magazines are always looking for “human-interest” stories about how the average persons’ life got a whole lot better via a design solution.  (Consider making a video interview and share it with all your clients – videos are the number one choice of gathering information).   How does this get you referrals?  #1 – it takes your connection with your client to a whole new level.  #2 – it makes your phone ring from people who want what that client got!


#3  Create an “offer” relevant to the season.  “For the month of April, REFRESH your favorite room”.   I love this for professional moms – “Tired of walking in the front door after a long day only to be greeted by a pile of clothes, backpacks, and half eaten lunches?”.  Create a package complete with what they get, price it and send it to all your peeps.  Consider a combo “Do it with a friend for $”.  Or, “Give your best friend an organized kitchen”.    Focus on the day-to-day problems your clients face and tap into your talent to help resolve them.  You become part of their trusted inner circle and they will call you on big projects or ensure their friends do!


#4  Build a 3-hour exclusive shopping package.  Many younger clients are enculturated to shop themselves and some older clients just want to pretend to be an interior designer for a few hours.  This idea taps into both of those clients.  Bill for your time, make prior arrangements with several showrooms to get commissions.  Consider giving them a slight discount.  Send an “exclusive” invitation to your clients encouraging them to bring their best friend.  Extend the offer to your realtor contacts for their best clients.

8 Ideas to Get More Interior Design Referrals

#5  Build a 3-hour package with a fashion stylist.  Just about every woman I know wants to look her best whatever her age.  Find a great stylist, create package price and be her “lifestyle” partner pulling in the elements of her personal style into her fashion look.  You could charge for the package or even give as a thank you for her business.


#6  Visit an artisan.  This is for the client who loves art and fine quality workmanship.  Set up an appointment with a sculptor, painter, mineral specialist, metal craftsman…. whatever your client is passionate about.  Your client might even commission a piece or buy a limited edition that you would get commissions on.   Charge for your time for this “private” personal insiders peak into an artist.


#7  Create a package for a family photo session where you make the final arrangement of the images in their home.  Make capturing family memories easy for your clients.  So many parents want to have a formal family photo, but they never make time for it.  Celebrate their new space with photos of them in it!


#8  Use your creative brilliance to create an unusual event or unique package.  There are so many areas for families to connect.  Something like a father daughter event; “Dads, learn how to braid daughters’ hair” or “how to put on your daughters make up”.

Remember to go beyond design topics to get design referrals!!  It is already obvious you are the design expert.  It’s about your clients feeling like you know and care about them.  You want to be top of mind when that next project is on the table for them or their friends and colleagues.  Remember what keeps them up at night and when they or their friends need a designer, you are like family!

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