Are the prices (fees) you charge your clients commensurate with the value of service you’re providing? Do your clients really understand exactly how much work goes into a design project from beginning to end?

If you’re feeling nervous about presenting your initial design quotations, or are seriously thinking about stepping up your schedule of fees, we encourage you to work through this ‘three-step challenge’ to determine where you’d like your earnings to be.

Step 1: Break it down and add it up

Begin by breaking down the full scope of services you’re providing. You may have your own terminology for each phase, but all design projects can be basically be broken down into a ‘C.O.R.E’ order:

C: Collaborate and Collect
In the Design Survey stage, you’ll be collaborating with your client to determine their practical requirements for design, their aesthetic and style preferences, their budget and time expectations. You’ll also be collecting data: you’ll be measuring up the existing space, determining site parameters, locating existing services and assessing structural limitations. How long do you allow for this process?
O: Organise and Optimise
If you’re smart, you’ll collate the information you’ve gathered above within a few hours of your meeting. You’ll set out a clear and concise design brief, make sure you have all the information you need about the site (did you get all the measurements?), and send your client a summary of your findings to ensure you’re all on the same page. What is your procedure for this stage of the game? How long do you allow yourself to organise and optimise your brief?
R: Research and Review
Finding finishes, fixtures and fittings that meet your client brief can be a time-consuming exercise. Yes, it’s a part of your Concept Design/Design Development stage, but when you’re lost in a Google-vortex, are you keeping track of time?
E: Execute and Deliver
You’ve gathered your information, organised your findings and researched the best products for the project. Let the fun begin! How much time do you set aside for Design Development and Documentation? Is this the ‘heaviest’ component of your project, or is it relatively light work when you’ve laid out ‘C, O and R’ above?

Now’s the time to be brave: add up your hours, being brutally honest, and move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Deduct and divide

If you’ve set a pre-determined fee for your design service, divide it by the hours set out in Step 1 and determine your hourly charge out rate. Remember you’ll need to deduct your overheads from this figure (phones, office supplies, rent, insurance, electricity etc. – work out your monthly expenses and divide it by the number of hours you’ll be working).

Step 3: Reflect and Review

Are you happy with where you’re at? Is there room for growth in your fee schedule? Are you setting out your full scope of work when you send your potential clients a fee proposal?

When clients understand the ‘real’ extent of the service you’re offering, you’ll be better positioned to sell value over price. You’ll reinforce your professionalism, and let your clients know there’s more to design than picking pretty colours and keeping up with trends.

We’ve specifically structured our KBDi Design Consultancy Agreements to help you with the above. The document sets out all stages, from Design Survey to Project Consultancy/Management, and helps keep you and your client on the same page. If you haven’t seen the contract yet, contact us today and we’ll send you a copy.