By Renée Biery

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Add-on’s, renovations, and new construction homes can seem intimidating to take on. How do you even get started? How do you find and manage contractors? What surprises should you anticipate coming up? How long do these things take?

In this podcast, you will learn all that and so much more!





It takes a lot of people to bring their own A-game to every one of your projects in order for them to be successful. 

I don’t say that to be intimidating to those of you who are newer, but more of a ‘let’s understand this and what our role is in every project we take on.’ 

Building relationships is truly the foundation for a successful project. Not only when the projects are currently underway but as far as a referral network, advice, or needing a resource. 

The more you can stay connected with them, have that relationship, understanding, and downright friendship with them, the more you can protect yourself from a vendor going rogue. 


So, if a contractor goes rogue, that can mean they go straight to the client with issues that have come up instead of looping you in first. There are ways to manage that, and this is a long-term relationship because our projects run weeks, months, and years. 

But when a vendor goes rogue, and by vendor, I mean someone you’re buying the marble from or a flooring vendor and communicates directly with your client, that can be seriously problematic. 

What could go wrong?

Let’s start easy. Suppose a flooring vendor reaches out directly to your client. In that case, your client isn’t necessarily well-versed in what is going to be specified or the square footage needed, and without any intention, your client could confuse the entire scope of work. Then all of a sudden, you’ve lost time, and the vendor doesn’t know what’s going on and then reaches back out to you. Nobody wants that, and the whole reason we are on these projects is to avoid confusion and keep things streamlined. So that is something pretty mild. It can be easily fixed.

Other scenarios aren’t as simple. That is when you get the feeling that a vendor is looking to close a sale, and for whatever reason, it’s not closing fast enough. If they reach out to your client trying to get credit card information, well it could be very little or very large. That salesperson doesn’t know the price you’ve provided to your client. That salesperson doesn’t know if you’ve made some changes in the last week or so and just haven’t looped them in. So, your client is going to possibly see purchase orders directly from the plumbing supply house that they were never intended to see. I do not advocate hiding things from clients, absolutely not, but I do advocate for all paperwork to go through your office so that you can do whatever it is in your contract that your client has agreed to.  

I do find that if salespeople work on commissions, you won’t always know if they do or not, but they will be a little more aggressive in trying to get directly to the client. 

It is truly important to establish how you want these vendors to work with you in the beginning. 

It doesn’t mean that they will follow you, but again, their relationship is with you. Any smart salesperson (and trust me, they’re not all smart) will recognize that Mrs. Smith is a one-off, and you have the ability to truly hand projects to them without any work of their own.

This scenario could be easily fixed by taking your client back to the contract and going over how pricing would be structured. But there might be some annoyance factor because nobody really thinks about that. That’s my experience. The client knows they’ve agreed to a 30% markup, but do they really take the time to calculate that? No. But when they see the numbers from the plumbing supply, they think, “Oh my gosh, I could totally save that 30% if I went directly to the supply house.”  The answer is actually, no, you could not get it at that price because that is not the homeowner’s price. That is my designer discount price; the only way to get that price is to go through me. So, as you can see, it can get very uncomfortable very quickly if a vendor goes rogue and shows their pricing directly to a client. 

There will be all kinds of excuses from this salesperson as to why they did that. You then have an option: if this is someone you’ve established a decent relationship with and want to continue, if it’s because of their plumbing industry knowledge or what have you, then you have to make a decision on how you want to handle it. You can say, “I need to speak to your manager,” and escalate the situation. Or if you want to be firm with the person directly and say, “Listen, this can’t happen again. You are an extension of my office. You need to follow the procedures. I have always worked with you in every other project.” 

In my experience, that is really all it takes. That doesn’t takes way the really annoying and uncomfortable conversations you have to have with your client, but it does typically nip it in the bud so that you can maintain that working relationship. 

When vendors go rogue it isn’t the end of a project it is just a level of annoyance and potentially causing friction between you and your client and none of that is what you want on any project. 

I hope you’re understanding that a vendor going rogue can truly spiral and put you in a situation that nobody wants to be in. Sometimes, there’s no way to resolve it but to leave. And I know that sounds a bit doomsday, and it typically doesn’t go that way, but it can.

How to prevent this from happening

I used to go with assumptions. I introduced myself. I went through the selection process. Thinking they know me. They know how I work. No, they don’t. Until you completely and clearly tell them how you work, they just don’t know. Until you let the vendor know your process, you are relying on their experience with other designers, and that may not be how you want to work. It’s really quite simple, and we just spend too much time assuming people know what we want to do. Just tell them. 

After listening to today’s episode, my hope is that you will never know any of this firsthand. I would rather you spend the time and energy on building relationships with your vendors, which will avoid all of these scenarios.  

Even for seasoned investors who might have established relationships with vendors. Go back if it’s been a while since you’ve used a specific vendor, and remind them how you work. Don’t assume they will remember. You are one of dozens of designers they work with. Some work 12 different ways with 12 different designers. So do the work. Dot your i. Cross the t. Maintain those relationships, and you will never have to worry about a vendor going rogue. 

That way, the dozen or so vendors that you rely on for your projects will provide you with smooth sailing to the successful completion of your project. 

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