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Responding to Referrals: How best to approach it

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We give top tips on how to respond to BIID client referrals for interior design projects.

In the last membership year*, the BIID has sent out interior design project referrals with budgets totalling in excess of £7.5 million. Clients approach the BIID with their interior design projects and our Registered Interior Designers are invited to respond to these referrals. As designers continue to put their best foot forward when presenting themselves to clients, we have put together some tips to help with the process. While this article is primarily aimed at applying for referrals once you have reached Registered Interior Designer® status, they can easily be adapted by all designers to use when bidding for design work.

1. Read the Brief Thoroughly 

Look at the detail within the brief and make sure you are the right person for the project. Respond to referrals that best suit your expertise and experience. Blanket standard responses are unlikely to be successful and will often be a waste of your time and theirs. Focus on the areas you can excel.

2 . Be Specific

If they are asking for someone to restore a period property, tell them if you have experience of this. If they want a restaurant designer and you have designed restaurants, make sure your response includes that. If you don’t have experience of that specific area but are confident you could do the project, tell the client about the transferable skills you have. Explain what projects you have done that best place you to complete their project.

3. Project Administration

Include how you will approach the project administration, communicate your ideas to the clients, and manage the process. Telling them how you will tackle this side of things is often as important as the design elements of the project. Some projects will want project management experience so if you have experience be sure to include reference to it.

4. Be Personal

They will want to know about you as a designer. This will include how much experience you have and what the experience is in. This can include details of the size of your practice, your approach to work and why you want to win the project. 

5. Include Your Passions and Specialisms

Talk about your passions and any special areas of interest. Do you love to work with colour, art, or antiques? Are you an expert in historical buildings or sustainable design? Make sure you tell the client!

6. Invite them to check your digital footprint

Direct them to your BIID Profile, website, or Instagram, whatever presents you in the best light and gives a true example of your work. This will act as the first testimony of your work. Make sure you have at least one platform that shows the extent of your experience and has strong images of your work. For advice on how to make the most of your social media read How to Use Social Media to Win Clients.

7. Don’t say too much

It is easy to be tempted to provide lengthy descriptions but too much information can be as unhelpful as too little. If a client receives too long a response, they are likely to scan read it, this could lead to them missing important points. Keep it clear and concise, making sure every sentence adds value.

These tips were based on the responses from interior designers who were successful in securing business from referrals. If you are not a BIID member or are a Provisional Associate or Associate member and would like to be in the position to apply for referrals you can find out more about becoming a BIID Registered Interior Designer. Referrals are emailed directly to Registered Interior Designers.

*1st April 2020 - 31st March 2021