November 30, 2012

Are You Shrinking to Fit?

Are you reducing your design fees because you heard that someone else is doing it for less and you are afraid if you don’t do it for “peanuts,” you won’t get the job?

I have heard some stories lately that scare me.

Like a big house job that was won with fees ridiculously low and a zero markup on furniture. This designer obviously has not a clue how much personal liability she is taking on…Besides agreeing to work for $10.00 per hour.

Then there are designers that go into a job with a reasonable design fee, but then let the client add to the scope of work without you getting paid for the additional work.

The reason this happens is that designers don’t know what to say, or they are so uncomfortable with asking to be paid more, they just do the additional work. And then gripe and complain to me about how cheap and demanding their clients are.

Another place that “shrinkage” is happening is when you are not tracking and billing your time accurately.

When you are creating your hourly time billings at the end of the month (or later) and try to reconstruct what you did long ago, you lose.

A lot…

Then you look at the invoice you just created and say, “Oh, he will never pay that much! I will just change a few hours to no charge. He will appreciate that”

Unless you are personally the Bank of Interior Design, you cannot afford to be doing that. You are financing those clients, who have way more money than you do!

All of these scenarios are about personal boundaries.

Better said; these are about a lack of personal boundaries, and not about crummy, cheap clients.

However, if you are doing any or all of these things I am sure that you are feeling poor, unhappy and dissatisfied. I hear from some of you that sometimes it is so bad you are ready to quit and get a JOB!

Don’t do it…

Here are some simple steps that you can take to help you establish and stand up for your personal boundaries.

Step#1 Let go of the old belief that you should make your clients happy no matter what the cost is to yourself. It is just not true.

In business, you should always do your best work, make sure you got it right, and always do what you say you will. After that, accept the fact that some people don’t want to be happy and just won’t let it happen.

Step#2 Support your new belief by deciding ahead of time what your design offer will be and write it down. That way you can present it to the client and you won’t will be inclined to back down at the last minute and say something else.

My Good Clients Great Money training and mentoring program has several modules that can help you with this.

“Get it Right the First Time” where you get easy to use, word for word scripts on exactly what to say so you get paid for your additional work and much more.

“Clients Like Choices, How to Make Offers on 3 Levels” shows you how to make written offers and negotiate with your client for a job and still get paid what you are worth.

Step#3 Stand Your Ground and don’t cave in. Remember that when you change your behavior, expect to get some resistance. They are just checking in to see if you really mean it.

Establishing good boundaries around your time and services is the first step for moving your design business up-market to those good clients and great creative jobs.

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