Interior design is a service-driven industry, and we know that so many of you are constantly looking for more ways to make your packages more attractive to potential clients and increase your value proposition. We see interior designers offering free design consultations all the time, and while that might seem like an easy way to connect with your target market, in the long run, it can do more to detract from your business than help. If you aren’t billing for your time spent on consultations, we think you should be.
Sometimes window shoppers are just that. They are intrigued by the idea of using your services, but they aren’t ready to make concrete plans. That’s fine, and it’s great to lay the foundation for future projects, but it’s a waste of your time to spend working hours conversing with them about a project that’s purely hypothetical. There’s no pay-off for you, or at least not in the foreseeable future.
A few hours here and there might not seem like a big deal, but if it detracts from your work and design time, then it will eventually disrupt your work-life balance or leave you feeling rushed during some other necessary task. By charging for consultations (we recommend invoicing for two billable hours as a standard), you ensure that the calls and meetings you do take are with serious potential clients who are ready and willing to pay for your services. And, even if the proposed project doesn’t come to anything, you were still paid for your valuable time and expertise.
Before you even get to the step of scheduling a consultation, take steps to make sure your website is working to filter projects that aren’t a good fit by providing plenty of information about your style and process, and with these tips for utilizing your inquiry form.
Speaking of expertise, you will find that you spend more time on design consultations than just the scheduled call or meeting. You will spend time setting up the consultation with both your schedules, preparing by reviewing their information and design concerns, and then following up with them after. That’s a significant amount of time for something you are offering as a free service. Charging for consultations gives you reason and incentive to prepare thoroughly and to spend that time following up and addressing questions. You can confidently tell potential clients what to expect from a paid consultation, knowing you can justify it.
Other costs associated with consultation meetings are time and expenses incurred while traveling if meeting in person. Don’t forget to factor that into your billable hours if applicable.
We are all about education here at IDCO, and we hope that our blog is a representation of that, but we don’t give away all of our design and branding knowledge for free. If a potential client wants your design advice, that is your trade and product and you should be compensated for it. Giving it away for free diminishes your expertise and experience, while charging establishes that your time and mental energy are valuable and worth paying for.
Setting the standard that you will be compensated for your time means that colleagues and potential clients will respect your boundaries and priorities. Instead of wasting time on fruitless inquiries and meetings, you can focus on paying clients and those with the real potential to become paying clients. Ultimately, you set the valuation for your time and effort, so don’t sell yourself short. If your expertise is being sought out, it’s worth paying for.
For more tips on the business of design and elevating your brand, check out these posts:
The Identité Collective is a full-service creative studio for interior designers and boutique lifestyle brands. Offering bespoke branding, web design and social media content creation, we help brands built around beautiful living elevate their digital presence to represent the physical spaces they design. Want to work together? Shoot us an inquiry here.