A great way to make money as an interior designer is to sell products, furniture, drapery all those things you need after you’ve finished your design.
However, many designers struggle with this. There are endless complaints about clients who don’t want to spend anything and ask for revisions to make it cheaper. This is understandably frustrating and really cutting into profits.
I’ve got some tips for improving this area of your business, but I want you to know this is not a magic pill or instant fix, these tips are subtle layers that you’ll add to your process that change the way clients respond to you.
The first thing you’re going to do is tell them:
“I’m not going to be the cheapest price on the Internet. I promise you that I am an interior designer and promise that I will bring you good quality for the money!
As far as all those guys on the internet with all those crazy cheap prices, I don’t even know if they have the product. I don’t know if they can ship it, I don’t know anything about that.
What I do know are my vendors and that they’re honest people, the prices are fair for the quality, and that’s my promise to you.”
Second: Don’t share your discount with your client!
This is a really bad idea and telegraphs that you’re so needy to get the job, that you’re willing to give yourself away in order to try to design something for one.
People are trying to take advantage of you by asking, and it hurts both our profession and other designers when you do it.
Next, do a Budget on the Fly when meeting with a new client.
The Budget on the Fly is when you walk somebody through a budgeting process when they say they don’t know what their budget is for a project.
Clients are sometimes not comfortable talking about money and this process helps determine what they can afford to spend (or note). That’s why it’s up to you as a professional designer and have the money conversation.
SIDE NOTE: Watch out for upcoming IDBA CEUs because I teach how to create a Budget on the Fly online for free – you’ll learn how to get that price out of the clients so that you’re designing to a total amount, not piece by piece where they can pick it all apart.
Finally, be sure that you present everything at once.
Do the whole design at once with a big ta-da. This is where you really stand up and make it shine.
TIP: You’re going to present it with a budget sheet with everything you have to buy on it.
Show that it’s just underneath that amount that they agreed to when they created a budget. This will eliminate objections of anything that’s too expensive and how you rearrange your numbers is up to you.
Plus, you can also show any way cooler pieces you find along the way (that are outside of their budget or what they agreed they should be spending), but you have to be clever about it.
Run them in a separate column on your budget sheet so that you see the column with your specifications is exactly what it should be.
It’s just right under the number that was agreed to, and then you can show them these wonderful things that are really cool, and that could be extras.
This allows them to choose because it’s up to them how they spend their money, but you stay in budget!
Seeing the whole design is much more impressive than going after one piece at a time and helps take the sting out of seeing the total for clients.
The objective is to sell it all together in one shot, not piecemeal.
Place limitations in your letter of agreement about presentations, prices, how long you hold prices, and that sort of thing to speed that up a little bit.
And the last part you need to know is that you actually make your money when you buy, not when you sell!
Working on vendor relationships and getting better margins are both really important for building your business.
Focus on relationships with your favorite vendors so that you can buy from them often, and develop your stocking dealer relationships too.
It’s getting those margins down low enough so you can give people a good deal while charging what you need to be making.
No one ever succeeded by going it alone and designers are no exception.
If you are feeling stuck, like you’ve hit a glass ceiling and can’t figure out how to break through, then it might be time for you to talk with an IDBA Coaching.
So until next time, design something beautiful and get paid what you’re worth.