Let’s talk about staying profitable when you’re purchasing and selling products to clients. Those products include items like furniture, soft goods, and finishes. One scenario that I see happening is where designers give away or share their product discounts. This is a tricky spot because you don’t want to do that. The cause of this is a designer who is grateful they got to do the job. There’s so much gratitude there because they are trusted to do the job they’ve always wanted to do.
The mentality is that they want to pass on that discount as a favor. And while there is a lot of grace there, and we do have gratitude for working on jobs, the reality is that you can’t sell a product at what you buy it for because there’s too much liability tied to it. It’s not a situation where your gratitude should extend so far that you put yourself in a financial liability.
What Happens When You Play Small Purchasing & Selling Products
Here’s how that works. When you sell your client a product, and you have no margin on it, you’re hoping that if something goes wrong and needs fixing, that your vendor is going to take care of it. Now, in many cases, that’s true, but not always. And it doesn’t matter who it is. Sometimes there is a problem with the product or with a piece of furniture. Then, you go back to the vendor, and they refuse to take care of it. At that point, it is up to you to take care of it, because now your reputation with your client is on the line. The last thing you want is for clients to say bad things about you to their friends or colleagues. Unfortunately, if something goes wrong, they’ll spread bad news five times faster than anything related to good news.
In the end, you always want to take care of a problem like that. Even though it doesn’t happen all the time, it happens often enough to be very important. It’s happened to me quite a few times, and I always chalked it up to having it come out of my pocket in those situations. I just called it marketing. This is part of my marketing, and I need to take care of it. And then my clients were really happy.
Another situation that can come up with selling products is when we sell something very expensive. It could be a dining room table where the wholesale cost is $16,000. It’s not crazy, but it’s hefty. And designers tend to think that they don’t need to make that much on it. If I add another four thousand, that would be my profit on it. You sell it for $20k, and that’s great. The only problem is that there is something wrong with the table.
In this case, the vendor may be willing to fix it. However, you have to find a way to get it out of the building, and then ship it back to the vendor for it to be repaired. It could easily cost you more than $4,000 to get it out of the building, crate it, pay for shipping, and you have to do it twice. Then, you’re backwards on that job by at least $4-5k.
In reality, a dining room table with a wholesale cost of $16,000 should sell for $30-$32k. It’s just the way the business has to work. Being nice or playing small doesn’t help anyone. It actually puts you at risk. Instead, take profit from that job. Put aside some of it into a savings account so that you’re prepared to take care of issues like this if they come up in the future. That way, it’s not painful when it does happen. You just call it marketing and say, “That’s the way it is. I’m glad I had the money to take care of that.”
Get Help Staying Profitable with Your Interior Design Business
There’s a lot that goes with purchasing and selling products to clients, and there are many moving parts. I teach a variety of tips and strategies about purchasing in my Modern Designer’s Guide 2.0. That’s my latest version of the guide, and it’s the 2020 edition hot off the press. It covers the design business, best practices, as well as a lot of inspirational and mindset strategies.
So, if you’re looking to find out what a little bit of education and coaching could do for your business, this is a great way to stick your toe in. This is a little program, even though it runs for a whole year. It gives you twelve months to absorb all the strategies a week at a time. A little bit of coaching is involved in it, too, meaning you can connect with me, ask questions, and get issues solved as well. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, click on the link below and check out the Website page. It will provide you with all the details.
Until next time, design something beautiful and get paid what you are worth.