Can You Really Meet Everyone’s Needs?

If you are a design junky, you probably have spent a little time on, the leading online website for residential remodeling and design.  This week they announced their "Best of Houzz 2013" awards, and I was happy to hear I was one of the designers who received an award, determined by the more than 11 million monthly users that make up the Houzz community.

best of houzz 2013


What really makes me happy is that the award is for "Customer Satisfaction," which is something that is very important to me.  I want each of my clients to be happy with the work I've done in their home and to believe that their time with me is valuable beyond the fee they paid.  

So why did it bum me out so badly to find a negative review posted about me on Thumbtack today?  This man said that I didn't return his emails or requests for a consultation and that he "had a very low opinion of me."   First of all, I do not recognize the guy's name and really don't think I blew him off, but I let it make me feel bad anyway.


Sad Face Clown


It did get me thinking about how increasingly difficult it has become to accept every new client who wants to  hire me and still be available to ongoing clients.  I want to help everyone who contacts me, and to respond to every email in a timely manner.  I hope that people can understand that I really do bend over backwards to meet the needs of everyone I can, but sometimes I have to put a few boundaries around what I am physically able to do.  I've been encouraged repeatedly to increase my rates, but part of what I love about my business is making a major difference in everyday homes and working with people who never thought they could afford a designer.  I don't want to give that up, so I've had to make people wait a few months for a consultation or turn down some potential clients altogether.   At this point, my next openings for new local clients are in April.  I know that's been frustrating and disappointing to some people, but I'm not sure what the alternative is.  




I really didn't mean to spew all that out on you today, it's just an issue I'm dealing with and trying to make some peace with.  One of the ways I am trying to deal with this is to develop instructional materials to help teach people how to make their homes more beautiful, such as my upcoming Color Workshop video and my book on home staging.  It's a start anyway.  Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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22 thoughts on “Can You Really Meet Everyone’s Needs?

  1. Cathy says:

    I wouldn't change what you're doing…..set your own time table…you are right, it is SO rewarding to help those that would normally not consider a designer's help because so many designer's are interested only in helping people at the "high" end.  I think the key is letting potential clients know your time table, and then they can decide to either wait or move on.  Love your work.

  2. ange says:

    If they really want your services, they can wait a few months.  There may be the occasional rush because they are selling soon but otherwise if you really want good design, you don't rush it!  You do an amazing job and that guy might have been just being a jerk and leaving a bum review because his wife didn't win one.  😉  Hang in there friend!  You do fabulous work and I knew you'd be a winner!

  3. Kelly says:

    Congrats on the award Kristie!! That is so aweson and so deserved! You are right, you can not please everyone all the time, and that includes your family and friends. I just try to do my best and if you have a problem with that- too bad, so sad! Think of all the good things happening to you lately! And maybe if you took that scary clown off your post, you might feel better. 🙂

  4. Donna McBroom-Theriot says:

    I can definitely sympathise with you. I write book reviews on my blog. And there are only so many hours in the day and a person can only read so many of them a day. It takes quite a lot of time to read and review and to then set up the review nicely on a blog. I do not think many authors realize the hours that are devoted to them – for free. I have had to also begin turning down authors. I think you addressed it quite nicely. Good for you. We need to always enjoy what we are doing. Donna

  5. RSC says:

    Kristie: We ALL tend to beat ourselves up over even negative comment, even if we have had a hundred positive comments. You do a good job. Your work is awesome. Your enthusiasm is contagious. You have many fans who appreciate your work. 'Go, with the positive!

  6. Karen says:


    You do FABULOUS work!  You are human, though, and can only do what you can do!!!  The last time I checked, scientists still had not found a way to be in two places at once.  🙂  Please continue working with us "average income" folks though – we love and need your expertise!  


  7. Cindy Gray says:

    I think you have tapped into a huge market!  Alot of us are willing to pay for a good "design coach" to help us figure out how to put the things we like together.  I know alot of designers are out of work because they want very high per hour rates and customers with large budgets.  I think you are on target with expanding into books and video.  And the negative stuff, it's gonna happen, you can't control it.  The serenity prayer is brilliant!

  8. Kizzy Jones says:

    I agree with Cathy.  I never considered working with a designer for the very reason mentioned and guess what…..there you were.  Thank you for taking me on as a client.  A part of the negative review stems from the drive thru and pick up world we live in.  We all enjoy the convenience of that, however everything doesn't work that way (this is a prime example).  And honestly, we shouldn't want some things to.  Just think of how many times we don't get what we wanted in the hustle and bustle of convenience.  Your time table is key.  Potential clients will be able to make a better informed decision by knowing your availibility.  You're absolutely awesome!       

  9. Rebecca says:

    You are doing an amazing job. I personally would wait months to receive your professional help! And I am so excited at the thought of your workshop video and book! Don't let what that man said (true or not) upset you because you are such a lovely person with a heart of gold giving your absolute best. And what he said; says more about him then it does about you!

    Absolutely love your work! Bec


  10. Annie Vincent says:

    You do great work! And it is recognized! Don't let the few negatives bring you down! You are in high demand and deserve a life too! There is balance and I believe you are on your way to finding it! Best my friend!

  11. Kelly says:

    Kristie – congrats on the Houzz award. 🙂 Totally deserved.

    About the negative review, anyone who has communicated with you or read your blog knows that you care deeply about your work and your clients. This person just wants to complain. Don't take it to heart because it's simply not a true assessment of who you are. 

    Keep doing what you are doing and trust your gut.  Lots of people will tell you what you "should" and "shouldn't" do, but the bottom line is it's your life and your career. And only you know what the right thing is for your biz. So far, you seem to be managing just fine. The bad reviews will come every once in a while. Brush them off and keep on doing your thing. 🙂

    Wanna read my super crappy Yelp review? Maybe it will make you feel better. It was my FIRST Yelp review and I was SO upset at the time. Until I realized it really doesn't matter. I still get work. I still get clients.  And I still make a lot of people happy in their homes. – Scroll down to the 5th review. It's AWESOME!



    • Kristie Barnett says:


      Ok, I just went and read your review and do feel better!!  Haha, it did make me laugh, especially about all your various social engagements that kept you busy 😉  I need an assistant to screen and schedule all my clients – at least that way, I don’t feel so bad when I can’t get to them on their timeline!  Anyway, thank you so much for your encouragement and support, as always – it’s wonderful to have other “color people” in my circle of friends!

  12. Laila Poole says:


    Try not to let those negative comments get to you.  There is only ONE you and you only have so many hours in a day.  You also have a private life being a wife and mother and those are the most important things.  You can tell your very gifted in your work because you are in such high demand. 🙂


  13. Sarah - Art of Decor Blog says:

    Many congratulations on the award, Kristie! So good to know that. 🙂

    With the amount of appreciation that you get and the number of clients you have, you really really don't have to worry at all. They say that when you do so much good work, little negative things don't pull you back…they rather give you the strength and guts to move on…even better! Cheer up and just keep being perfect…because that's what you are. 🙂

  14. Becca says:


    I recently discovered your blog and I am so happy I did!!  Business growth is a positive sign – at some point it may become too much for one person to manage (sounds like you are at that point).  Have you thought about having an assistant?  

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