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Set Your Design Fee and Get It!

There’s a noticeable trend among designers today.

It’s an unease with design fees, a kind of scarcity thinking that creates the “they will never pay me that much or I am not worth it or they will just take advantage of me” internal dialog that diminishes your value before you even speak with a client.

Design fees are far better than billing hourly because you:

  • know exactly how much you will be paid
  • know exactly what you have you have to deliver
  • get paid for all time spent
  • are in control of your time (not at your client’s whim)
  • can complete and photograph your jobs!

Besides, when you bill hourly and are really good at something, you do it quickly and that means you makes less…. for being really good and that doesn’t make sense.

When you use a design fee you make a design fee you make extra dollars for being good and fast!

Sounds like a win-win, right?! So, what’s the problem?

It’s that most designers don’t truly understand their value.

In other words, you may gloss over transformation you bring to your clients and give the credit to the beautiful finishes and furniture.

This is not surprising since you used to get paid by marking up and selling that furniture. It’s what brought in your paycheck and you never had to be very concerned with charging much for your creativity and service, there was plenty of money coming in on the product. Worse yet, if you ever worked in a furniture store design studio (like I did) you were taught to give away your creativity and time to sell furniture.

Now, as you know, things are different. You can’t count on selling product to fund your paycheck. You must be well paid up front for your creative genius, product knowledge, extensive experience and concierge customer service.

If you make something on selling furniture, it is a bonus! But how would you ever know how to put a price yourself?

This is a tricky situation, you already know that you were billing about a third of the hours you were really working and then reducing the hours on your monthly time invoicing before you ever sent it out.

So how do you get those old habits out of your new opportunity and actually get paid what you are worth?

The first step is to shift your mindset to a state of abundance, where clients are happy to pay you a design fee because they understand the value of what they get by working with you.

Shift your mindset to understanding that you are presenting your design fee you are actually offering your client a precious gift that will transform the way they live, and you can’t help them unless they say yes.

What else do they get by working with you?

On the purely practical, business side of the equation … you are providing a form “insurance”.

You ensure that their dollars are well spent, that they receive good quality for their investment, that they are preventing a potential expensive mistake and that the project adds value to their property and lives.

What is that “insurance” worth today?

About 15% of the dollars being spent on a project. Once you become confident at presenting design fees you can move up from there. And, please note, it doesn’t have to be dollars spent with you, it can be the dollars that will be spent with contractors.

That’s why it is appropriate to charge $1,400 for paint specifications for someone who is going to spend $10,000 painting their house. They want to be sure they got it right, and they want an expert (experts do get paid more) and that expert is you!

Next, when clients have “skin in the game” or in other words, a chunk of money invested with you, they (a.) pay attention to what you say and (b.) rarely waste your time.

It is a lovely thing 🙂

You end up respected, well paid and happy.

But ultimately, your value to your clients is not the total of hours you worked times some internal hourly rate.

No! Your value is measured by the impact you make on your clients’ life.

Think about …

what your clients say when you have finished a space for them…they’re jumping up and down ecstatic, right?!

how different their lives are because they’re living with beauty, comfort and functionality.

how proud they are to share this space with their family, friends and business associates because it’s bespoke to them.

This is truly using your gift to make a difference in the lives of others.

Design fees are the way you can build your business, increase your income and stop working nights and weekends. Start today and your tomorrow will be filled with more abundance then you thought possible!

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