Running a business requires a lot of decision making but none as important as pricing your interior design services. If you can’t get that right, it’s going to be hard to make money. As much as most of us designers love everything design related, we still want to earn money in our business.
And this is not an issue that specifically relates to new designers. It took me yearrrrrs to get my pricing strategy right. There’s just not enough information about pricing interior design services and most of us get so busy in the day-to-day stuff. We just move along and never go back to evaluate whether our model is working or not.
what to consider in pricing your interior design services
If you’ve been undercharging you’re not alone. The majority of designers I speak with are struggling to nail down the pricing model in their business. It’s possible to be undercharging but it’s also very common to have a good pricing structure but not track time and get lost in sourcing or creating technical drawings. In the end, you may as well have undercharged because the result is the same – you’re not making enough money compared to how many hours you work.
Here are the most important things to ask yourself:Do you know and understand the different pricing methods?
- Do you consistently track your time?
- Do you know and understand the different pricing models?
- Do you know how many hours each stage of a project takes?
If you can answer those questions you likely have a great handle on pricing. Assuming that you’re reading this because you’re not happy with your current model, let’s dig into those areas.
FACTORS THAT AFFECT YOUR PRICING
Calculating how long each stage of a project will cost is hard. These are things to consider that will affect the pricing.
- Scope of work – make sure you’re absolutely confident of what you’re being hired to do. Outline all the steps in a Scope of Work document and review it closely with your clients. Their understanding of what’s included may differ and the time to get clear is at the beginning, before you’ve set the pricing.
- Size and complexity of project – the hardest part of design is that every single project is different so all you can do is measure against “typical”.
- Experience – it will take you much longer to do something in the beginning so you have to factor that in and consider how it impacts both you and the client.
- Client’s experience with a designer – Generally, if a client has not worked with a designer they’ll require more attention. They have more questions and need more guidance. They also tend to me more involved than clients who have gone through the process previously.
OPTIONS FOR PRICING YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN SERVICES
This option works well when you’re starting and have smaller projects. It’s a great way to get used to how long each stage of design takes.
Start by exploring the competition in your local area. You never want your hourly rate to be the lowest. People don’t value less expensive things and it will hurt you in being able to choose great projects if you undercharge.
PROS OF HOURLY PRICING – you are compensated for every hour of your time. Can be a great way to price in the beginning until you have some experience estimating time.
CONS OF HOURLY PRICING – clients don’t love this model because they have no understanding of what the final pricing will be.
This is a common model but it does require a fair amount of experience to be sure you’re pricing fairly for both yourself and your client.
Be sure if you propose the fixed fee model that your client has great decision making abilities. This can devastating to your bottom line if you don’t anticipate indecision.
PROS – you can anticipate what you’ll earn from your projects. Clients love to know what they’re paying before the project begins.
CONS – if you’re not comfortable estimating time you can undercharge and there is no method to recover the lost amount.
FIXED PLUS PERCENTAGE
This is another extremely common model and particularly for designers who sell (or resell) furniture.
Each phase of the project would have a fixed fee and a markup on the cost of merchandise. This is more common for residential designers.
PROS – if you underestimate on the fixed portion you have the opportunity to regain loss in markup percentages. Clients have a clear understanding the costs involved.
CONS – you can be underpaid if your client purchases furniture elsewhere so be absolutely sure they are not price sensitive shoppers who will go out on their own.
It’s tricky pricing interior design services but you can get your business to the point where you’re earning the money you want. You just need to be diligent in managing your projects.
If there’s only one thing you do after reading this, START TRACKING YOUR TIME ON EVERY PROJECT. You won’t have to do this forever but at least do it until you have an ability to accurately estimate.
I hope this helps you have the confidence to start pricing and making money in your business.