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I've been getting more small to medium sized custom trim and painting jobs and I'm realizing I don't have a good system for helping customers choose baseboard, casing, door handles etc.

One job I'm about to start I will be replacing 7 interior doors, including changing a bifold to a bypass, all the casing on those doors, about 120 feet of base, painting all the new stuff and a few other odds and ends. Another job, starting late February, is replacing 4 doors, a bunch of base, installing paneling up the stairs and part of another wall and 2 fancy built up columns with crown and everything around door openings, so no new construction and barely even a real remodel but definitely more than just basic repairs and painting.

Paint colors haven't been a problem, I bring a fan deck from Sherwin and include a couple test patches in my quote, I also offer to connect them to a color consultant I know if they want it, but the trim has been a lot harder. I've been sending people electronic catalogs to look through and some of them are having a hard time visualizing things from the catalog, I've been picking up some trim samples but I need people to narrow it down a little for me before I start getting samples, there are thousands of different options and some of them are so custom it's looking like it will be cost effective to route them myself but then I can drop a few hundred just on bits and not even be sure that鈥檚 what they want. I'm starting to think working with an interior designer might be a good option at this point, not only to make sure the customers are really getting what they want and not have them asking me what looks good (I'm not the best at design and I don't want the liability) but also as a way to take my operation up a level. I might still need a few good show rooms and catalogs to go with the designer or to offer people who have simpler jobs and don't want a designer. Any thoughts and recommendations?
I think is better to leave it to a interior designer to do that . We don't really get pay for picking out colors and style for customer. For us, we usually jsut let customer know what is trendy currently and thats it. Sometimes too much selection for a customer make them indecisive, and then they took your idea to get antoher bid 馃槙
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Thanks for the input everyone, it's really helpful to get so many different ideas and opinions from other pros doing a variety of similar work.

Maybe it is mostly the job with the paneling that's driving me a little nuts. The other one found something she liked out of the catalog from my usual millwork place pretty quickly, said she didn't need samples. I went and asked one more time if she was sure she wanted the base and casing to be the same size like the photo (she's going to be out of town for a couple months so I really want everything squared away even more than usual before she leaves) and she started wondering so I got 3 other pieces of trim with the same profile but different sizes and drove over there. She facetimed a friend and picked something out in 15 minute or so, I wrote up the change order with an extra 2 hours to cover my time. I got paid for my time, she knows for sure she will be happy with the choice, I feel better knowing for sure she likes it, win win.

The other one sent me photo a of some base when I went to look at the place and I thought that's what she wanted. It was a real weird profile and the lumberyard wanted north of $1300 to make a knife and mill 150 feet of the stuff, I found somebody on the east coast who had something very similar they could ship for $800 ish so I quoted the job with that. I realized It wouldn't be too hard to make the base in 2 parts on my router table so I bought some bits and made a sample of that too. When I went over there she said "these are all the samples you brought?" it seemed like she was expecting me to have a whole load of different stuff to look at even though she had sent me a photo of what she said she wanted. I showed her some catalogs, she said she needed more than that to work with, I told her she could go into a showroom, she didn't want to drive into Minneapolis, I told her she needed to narrow down what she wanted a little and send me some photos, I couldn't just bring thousands of samples to the house. Yesterday I got this photo from her It's actually a lot less blurry now that it's on the computer not the phone:
Rectangle Automotive exterior Wood Font Art


She has also been asking what I think about a few of the other selections, keeps pushing when I tell her it's really a personal choice, keeps pushing when I tell her what I put in the contract will look good, finally let's it go when I say the other idea she is considering would also look good. And this is a pretty basic 3000sf 90's split level with 2 3/4" oak base, oak flush doors etc. and she wants all these panels and columns and huge base (texted me photos even before I went to look at the job).

I should mention both of these customers signed contracts with specific trim profile numbers in them, based off photos they sent me, and paid me, including some non refundable earnest money, most of the running back and forth with samples I'm doing is for change orders on jobs I already know for sure I have.

This ran a little long, I'm sitting around the house with the rona, not in a hurry to get anywhere.
 

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I stay as far away from paint color selections as I can. I provide my fan decks for my customers to pick from.

One thing I do advise is to hold an off white color sample against a white background. It seems to really help show what color the off white has in it.
 
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