Purchasing vs. Design Service

Lots of designers ask me about how to bill interior design clients.

It’s a really good, complex question and the strategy I’m going to share with you today is related to separating your purchasing from your design services.

Now it’s really important this is clear in your mind so that when you present to your client, it’s clear in their mind as well.

If you present saying things like, “I’m going to find these pieces for you so you can buy them,” then you’re really presenting like a furniture or window salesman, or even a flooring guy.

This causes more competition in the price because you’re presenting it as if the product is the most important thing instead of your service, your ability, and your creativity as the most important element.

Now what I often see happen is a designer takes a retainer for a few hours of time and then tries to sell a few pieces to see if they can get the job started.

The problem with that is you’re presenting the two combined and you end up being treated like a personal shopper, and it’s not a fun place to be. It’s not profitable either, nor does it feel good. I know because I’ve been there.

Instead, always sell your design services separately because you’re a designer – that’s who you are and that’s what needs to happen.

Design services should include your programming.

You need to include programming, schematics, design development, all of those pieces they teach you in school for your: drawings, your elevations, detailed drawings, floor plans, furniture plans and all the research it takes to get all the product figured out in order to create that particular design.

Everything goes into a spreadsheet, including but not only: stock numbers, finish numbers, fabric numbers, costs, freight, delivery, receiving.

You may not want to share all of that with your client, but all of that needs to be complete in order to finish the design process side.

Then when you get your client to approve, you can move on to purchasing.

The cool thing is you’re going to finish more jobs because you’re selling it all in one chunk and you’re going to get more designs that are complete and photographable.

You’ll also get to do purchasing all at once which saves tons of time so the job doesn’t drag out for months and months, so you can have a profitable business.

This is the key to how to bill interior design clients.

Writing just specifications for a job is fine, and it would be the same thing as if you were working for a general contractor and writing finish selections. You’re not going to buy any of that. You’re being paid specifically to pick all this stuff out.

And then once that’s complete, move into purchasing. If not, it’s OK. You’re well paid for what you did and it’s all good.

Now, I coach successful interior designers who work way too many hours and don’t make enough money. And I will tell you that very often after working with me, they have massive income increases and they don’t work nights and weekends anymore. I’m really blessed and have a blast coaching the next generation of Barbara Barrys and Kelly Wearstlers.

If that speaks to you, perhaps you need to speak to us.

We offer Clarity Calls with no obligation: there’s no arm twisting. I just can’t do that, I’m a designer like you and it’s not even part of our culture at IDBA.

During the Clarity Call, we’ll talk about where you’re at in your business and what your next move is to: expand it, to level up, to start scaling and developing it out into a bigger entity that supports you, your life, your freedom and more.

If you’d like to do that, just CLICK HERE to complete a short application and then select a day and time that works best for you.

Remember, design something beautiful and get paid what you’re worth.

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