I have two stories to share with you about two different designers. Both received a similar request from each of their clients regarding a fireplace wall that needed to be redesigned that ended up with different results.
Here’s what happened:
The first designer got the discovery call to talk with the client about the design job. The designer tells the client that she charges a minimum design fee of $5,000. She really wanted to get in with this client, so she mentioned the fee seemed too high for this type of project, and she would only charge $3,500. Even though it was known that the client was wealthy, she responded that the fee seemed too high, and she would have to check with her husband before proceeding.
The second designer also talked with their client on a discovery call about redesigning a fireplace wall. She told her client that she had a minimum design fee of $10,000 and that a paid first appointment was $750. The client booked the first appointment to exchange ideas, and while they were discussing the project, the designer mentioned that the minimum design fee of $10,000 usually equates to a $50,000 budget.
This designer is throwing out big numbers here because she doesn’t actually want this job. The intention of the $10,000 fee is designed to weed out the clients she doesn’t want and find ideal clients instead.
These numbers are quite outrageous, so the question here is – who got the job?
The designer who made it less expensive and tried to accommodate the client or the designer who threw out the outrageous number?
The winner was the second designer who quoted the ridiculous numbers.
This strategy is the path to finding your ideal client and moving upmarket.
What we’ve learned from this is calling out your minimum design fee and then backing down immediately is not a good strategy. Let the response come back first before you take that step.
Another thing we’ve learned is that less expensive doesn’t necessarily get the job. You have no idea what’s in the client’s head, so it’s impossible to know what they’ll do.
In defense of the first designer, holding true to your minimum design fee is difficult to do. It takes practice, and this designer is new at quoting minimum fees.
Once you get used to people stating that your fee is too much, and getting over that part, what will happen is that you’ll end up with your ideal client.
It’s a paradigm shift that moves you upmarket.
On the other side, standing your ground with your fee is challenging. However, quoting big numbers to a client for a job that you don’t really want usually works. The client will typically back down, state it’s too much, and look elsewhere.
In this case, the client didn’t back down, and now the designer is stuck with it because they made the offer. One thing to consider in this situation is that maybe the minimum wasn’t high enough.
Watch the video above where I explain the moral of the story and that less doesn’t always get the job, and more is connected to your ideal client. When you start establishing a design fee, and you can stand your ground with it, you start moving upmarket.
When you weed out the little jobs that eat up your time and make you go backward, you can grow into the bigger jobs that pay you what you’re worth.
If you want to be in a community of designers who are moving upmarket, openly support each other, and have proven successful strategies to apply to their business, give us a call. We help designers create businesses that provide personal freedom and help you get paid what you are worth. Book a clarity call or strategy session with one of our coaches. It’s no pressure and a lot of fun!
Until next time, design something beautiful and get paid what you’re worth.