Comment arrêter de sacrifier vos honoraires en tant que décorateur d'intérieur

How to Stop Sacrificing Your Fees as an Interior Designer

Maximizing your client’s budget while including your fees is a challenge, but it is crucial to protect your finances and your business. This can be especially daunting when you’re just starting out as an interior designer. But it would be very unusual if you had never considered impressing your client or fixing a problem by drawing from your own fees.

We can’t always be completely satisfied with our results (which is completely normal) and we also can’t completely control our client’s taste, third-party service providers, or the quality of products we’ve sourced. No matter what, you always deserve to be fairly paid for the work you’ve done. Here are some great tips to avoid sacrificing your fees to make sure you get paid:

1. Set clear expectations from the start

Before beginning any project, start with collecting the requirements from your client. At this early stage, you should make no promises, because all projects will have unique challenges.

For more on this check out our complete guide to managing an interior design project.

Once you have a clear timeline and budget, begin setting boundaries. It may feel like you are setting your client up to be disappointed, but nothing could be further from the truth. The professionalism you display when setting limits on your clients’ expectations will only convince them that you are knowledgeable. Always under-promise and over-deliver.

2. Prioritize the most important items

When you're working on a limited budget, it’s good practice to talk with your client about what they need most and focus your efforts there – within reason. If something is out of budget, be sure to explain the consequences as soon as possible.

With timelines and delays, the same story is true. Be upfront, overestimate, and report delays immediately. Forewarned is forearmed and your clients may forgive a delay, but they won’t forgive tardiness in delivering the news.

3. Don’t shy away from negotiation

Larger budget and luxury residential projects will present you with challenges to your pricing model. It’s tempting to assume a high budget offers breathing room for your fees, but this is not always the case. As a last resort to setting expectations and limiting your clients’ demands, you may need to remind them of your fees.

One subtle way do to this is offering an alternative plan, such as hourly billing or a flat rate per project or room. As with other planning techniques, this should be decided before the work begins.

4. Don’t let it get personal

It’s normal – expected, even – that you want to thrill your clients and create something impressive to bolster your portfolio. Yet the truth is that keeping your personal feelings out of a project will also help you focus on your client’s desires. Taking this perspective will also help you keep within budget and justify expenses – since they will be in your client’s best interest.

5. Practice financial discipline

Keeping track of your expenses and distinguishing between materials, labour, and other expenses is essential to correctly charging your client, but this activity should begin before you spend a dollar.

During your initial budgeting phase, always leave some breathing room in your costs. This may seem like common sense, but it is one more way that you can ensure your project is finished on (or below) budget. When this happens, your client won’t think twice about your fees, because you successfully managed their expectations from the start.

6. Use a contract

It is critical to use a contract on any project you undertake. Not every job will require pages and pages of terms and conditions, but covering the basics, such as the scope of the work to be done, the budget, payment terms, and your fees will set a foundation of trust and protect you – and your client – in case anything does not go according to plan. Be sure to include cancellation terms which include your fees and expenses, so that your clients don’t feel trapped and you can’t be cornered once the work is completed.

It's all about planning

By setting expectations from the very beginning, and planning your expenses with a margin of error, you can make sure your client does not question the legitimacy of your fees, and is satisfied that you have earned your pay. Even if conflict arises, signing a contract before beginning any work can put both you and your client’s mind at ease, and when worst comes to worse, you should not shy away from negotiation, which you should use as a tool to reinforce your commitment to deliver an excellent project, even when your clients have cold feet. Follow these tips to make sure you’re never sacrificing your fees for your client, and remember to always under-promise and over-deliver.

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