Your fellow kitchen designers report that there are many reasons why you should say no to a project. And it is perfectly okay to turn down a project.
We don’t have to please everyone. However, as human beings, it’s in our nature to want to please others.
When to Say No
So, when a homeowner comes along with a new kitchen remodel project, it’s natural to consider taking it on — even if it’s not in your best interest or you’re too busy or or you’re getting a bad vibe.
If your gut is telling you to pass on the project – listen to it. Just say no. Most designers who are in the midst of a bad project had a gut feeling they ignored.
You want to work on projects that challenge your creativity, not ones that drain you. If you don’t want to do it, just say no.
Further, it’s perfectly OK to turn down work for any reason. Maybe
- The homeowner’s style differs too much from your vision
- The scope of the project would stretch your resources too thin
- Your gut is telling you the potential client would be too high-maintenance
Reasons to Say No
1. You're Too Busy to Give Them the Attention They Deserve.
Saying, “I’m sorry, but we can’t take on any additional projects right now. We’re simply too busy” removes the possibility of making someone feel personally rejected. You can say you’ve had a number of project agreements finalized recently or that you’re contractually work that prevents you from taking on new projects. The person might feel disappointed, but you left the door open for possible future collaborations.
Sample Script to Say "No, I'm Too Busy"
Thank you for contacting us regarding your kitchen remodel. Unfortunately, we cannot fully commit our resources and attention to your project at this time. We feel that your project deserves more attention and time than we are able to provide right now with our current work load. Our schedule for a project of your size is opening in X months. We can put you on our waiting list if you would like.
2. Not The Geographic Areas You Work In.
Some designers limit their service area by geography. They can easily say no to jobs that are outside of the specific area.
3. It's Not Your Area of Expertise
“It’s not you; it’s me” is a polite way to say no. Since there are so many specialty designers and specialty service providers these days, such as color consultants, lighting specialists, etc., you can say a project doesn’t fall within your area of expertise.
Again, this avoids making the client feel personally rejected.
4. It's Not Your Style
If the requested kitchen remodel project is within your skill set but you don’t want to take it on, you can say that the style you specialize in is not what the person is looking for.
Sample Script to Say "It's Not My Style"
Thank you for speaking with me regarding your kitchen renovation project. I can see you’re looking for (contemporary /traditional/ farmhouse style, etc.), which is not our firm’s area of expertise. Because we want you to have the kitchen you desire, we feel that you’d be better off with another firm that specializes in the style you’re looking for.
5. It's Not the Budget You Want to Work With
You can avoid the possibility of working outside your comfort zone by limiting the type of budget your kitchen design business will work with. As experienced designers have learned, it’s much more productive when you have clients with the budget you want to work with.
Sample Script for When Budget is Too Small
Thank you for speaking with me regarding your kitchen renovation project. However, we feel that your project is outside the scope of what we can do. Typically our firm does projects that are in the $X-$X range, and you said that you wanted to stay below $X. We respect our clients’ budgets, and it is always our goal to stay within those numbers. Because we want to honor your budget, we feel that you’d be better off with another firm that excels in projects of your size.
6. You See High Maintenance Red Flags
We’ve all been there and know the scenario: the too-picky, too-needy, too-know-it-all person we just do not want to work with. The person who will call and text you at all hours, who will question your every recommendation, the person who will drain you. The person you need to say no to.
Sample Script for Red Flags Client
Thank you for speaking with me regarding your kitchen remodel project. After review, we feel that we cannot fully commit our resources and attention to your project. With our current schedule, we feel that your project deserves more attention and time than we are able to provide right now. I wouldn’t be comfortable taking your project knowing that you won’t be getting our best work.
What If You Don't Want to Say No?
Suggest Someone Else
You can create goodwill by passing along the name of another professional who might be the perfect person for the job you say no to.
Another designer might be able to handle a personality you find challenging, for example.
Further, someone newer to the business might appreciate the project recommendation. And the homeowner will appreciate being given the recommendation.
In addition, any time you refer a potential client to someone, you increase the chances of getting a similar referral in return.
Sample Script for Making a Referral
Thank you for contacting me regarding your kitchen remodel. We’re appreciative that you considered us for the work. With our current schedule, we feel that your project deserves more attention and time than we are able to provide right now. I am enclosing a few names of other designers who may be able to take on your project.
Whether you’re overextended or if saying no makes you extremely uncomfortable, delegating the project could be a good choice. A friendly, patient, happy-to-chat staffer might make a potential client happier than you trying to fit them into the two free minutes you have between meetings.
When delegating, the most important thing is to leave homeowners feeling like they were treated with courtesy and respect. And people skills like that can only help your business succeed in the long run.
No Excuses Necessary: Just Say No
It’s important to be professional and polite in all your communications, including when you’re saying no. When it comes to new clients, especially ones that give you a bad vibe, simply say “Thank you for considering me, but I won’t be able to take on your project” and leave it at that. It’s a polite way to just say no without any further explanation.
Who knows? You might want to work with this person in the future when circumstances are different.
Saying No: Keep it Short and Sweet
Why do we feel the need to come up with excuses or apologize when we say no? Saying no in itself is a complete sentence. There’s no need to follow it with any form of reasoning to justify it.
“I’m too busy”, “there isn’t enough time”, “I’m already committed to something else”. These are some of the excuses we use when we say no. Why do we insist on justifying ourselves?
Sometimes detailed explanations aren’t even necessary. A quick email or phone message is enough.
“Thank you for contacting us about your kitchen remodel project. We apologize but we won’t be able to take it on at this time. We wish you the best of luck with it, and please do keep us in mind for the future.”
This brief turn-down removes the urge to stretch the truth about your reasons.
Not every project is a winner, and not every client is a good fit for your style and your schedule. Sometimes you just have to say no.
When you take on work that isn’t a good fit with your skills and expertise, it can result in a bad testimonial, no referrals and the work not being profitable.
So don’t be afraid: Just say no.
Bob Aungst Cabinet Sales is a full-service rep agency with the goal of matching kitchen designers and remodelers with the cabinet manufacturers best suited to their business’ style and clientele. Owner Bob Aungst III represents Brighton Cabinetry, US Cabinet Depot, Integrity Cabinets and StyleCraft Luxury Custom Cabinets.