Recently, a designer reached out to me and said, “I’m getting so frustrated and exhausted from trying to find products to sell that are less expensive than what’s on the internet.” My response to that is, “It is incredibly difficult. In fact, I think it’s impossible, and I don’t think you should even try to do that.
With vendors on the internet, you don’t know if they have the product you want. You don’t know if they can actually sell it for the price listed. And you don’t know if the product listed is real or imagined. To try to beat their price while providing good customer service to your client is kind of crazy.
The best interior design advice I can give you for your business is just don’t do it. If you have a client who wants you to compete with the internet to provide purchasing, while also giving white-glove service, that’s a ridiculous expectation because service comes with a cost.
How to Avoid Competing with Internet Pricing
What you do takes a lot of time and energy, and a good client needs to be willing to pay for it. The problem here might not be the purchasing. It might be the kind of client you’re attracting.
So, to get yourself out of that dilemma, ask your clients towards the beginning of your discovery conversation if they like to purchase items on the internet. If they do, they’re likely going to launch into a 20-minute scenario on how they spent three weeks tracking something down and saved $60. That will give you insight into who that person is as well as their expectations. So, if you encounter a client like that, just take the job to design and write the specifications, ensure you’re well paid, and let them buy it. Just stay out of the whole piece.
Another thing you can do when just starting out with a client and you first talk about your purchasing, clearly state you will not be the cheapest price on the internet. White-glove service comes at a cost, and there is a price for it. Most people who want a designer will want you to take care of those things, and they are willing to pay for it. So, it’s essential to talk about this right at the beginning.
My standard saying to people always was, “I stand for having really good quality for the money, and that’s what I promise I will bring you.”
Now, if you stand on that concept instead of trying to be the cheapest, you’re going to attract better clients. You’re going to be more profitable, and your business is going to be way more fun.
So, until we talk again, design something beautiful, and get paid what you’re worth.