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I am sure you have noticed that interior design jobs have changed a lot over the last few years. What we used to assume to always be true, is often not.

I am talking about assuming that you are going to be purchasing the product that goes into your design job.

Many potential clients think that they are good at sourcing and purchasing.

So what is the question that you should always ask your potential client early in the very first interview appointment? How about:

Do you like to shop the internet? Do you like to look for bargains and deals on the things that you purchase?

Often, the answer is yes. Clients do want to be involved in purchasing and are excited about the stores and websites that they believe are full of treasures. And there is nothing wrong with this approach. After all, it is their house and their project.

However this is a critical piece of information to be aware of when formulating your offer for design services. Knowing that your potential client will not be relying on you to for purchasing talents dramatically changes your fee structure.

Don’t despair, this can still be a well paying job and you can help this person. You just need to approach the job in a different manner. Not exactly the way they taught you to do a design job in school, but that was school, and this is real life.

If you want to make a good living doing design jobs you need to learn how to be flexible, charge what you are worth, and give people the professional help they are looking for.

Here are four valuable tips to help you sign up an work with this kind of client.

  1.  Honor the fact that this person wants to experience creating or co-creating their own space. Acknowledge that by offering to help them and support them through the process while taking care of your financial side.
  2.  Create an offer for your design services that will help this client make wise buying decisions for their space. Your offer might include a space plan that illustrates sizes of furniture pieces, basic specifications of key pieces, a color scheme and several fabrics – all mounted on a board or in a special notebook. This would be a “no do over” job so be sure to do your programming carefully. The concept here is to give the client great value and complete the project in minimal in time for a reasonable fee.
  3.  Add to your offer a fee for a specific number of check in calls, maybe three, so the client may call on you, the expert, when they find something they think will work. Being able to send a picture to you for approval boosts their confidence, adds huge value, and takes only minutes of your time.
  4. Be sure to add to your agreement a menu of additional services so your client feels confident and welcome to ask to purchase a block (not an hour) of extra consulting time. Your customer will probably need it when they discover this is harder to do than they thought it would be.

Also don’t forget to invite them and provide access to your business for any custom orders and window treatments that they need. Tell your client what you can do and how you can help them move forward in their project. If you don’t clearly spell it out for them they won’t know that they can call on you for more help.

Figure out exactly how much time it will take you to provide this service and add 20%, which will be the design fee. Create a time budget by dividing your hourly rate into that fee. This is the number of hours you promise you will spend to complete the job

While this may not be the way you were taught to design, or the kind of design job you are aspiring to, it does pay quite well. Remember that every business needs some “bread and butter” jobs that pay the bills.

Most of all, stay positive. You never know when one of these jobs will lead you to the big juicy “jelly” job you have been looking for.

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