Publish July 1, 2024
Have you been asked to REDUCE your fee?
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Picture this: you’re comfortably settled on the couch, sipping your coffee, ready to dive into another engaging session, when the topic of clients wanting to reduce fees comes up. It’s a common scenario many designers face. You’ve sent off your proposal, you’re confident in your estimate, and then you get that dreaded email — “Can you reduce your fees?”

Engaging with Clients

The first step is engagement. I always recommend starting by simply asking clients to share their thoughts. An initial meeting is crucial. Understanding their motivations helps you frame the conversation more constructively. Often, the issue is not about devaluing your work but a misunderstanding of what the fees cover and the project’s timeline.

Evaluating the Project

Next, consider if the project is genuinely worth pursuing. Does the project align with your goals? Is it a significant piece for your portfolio? Will it help you build a long-term relationship with a builder? Address these questions before making any decisions. If the project checks all these boxes, then pursuing it may still be worthwhile.

Scope Reduction vs. Fee Reduction

It’s paramount to maintain the integrity and quality of your work. If you decide to lower your fee, do not reduce the amount for the same scope. Instead, discuss reducing the project’s scope. This entails educating the client about the potential impacts of removing specific aspects from the project. For instance, excluding the guest bathrooms from your design scope might seem like an effortless cutback to them, but it can have significant implications for the project’s cohesion and quality.

Collaboration with Builders

In cases like new builds, it’s wise to loop in the builder in these discussions. Builders often prefer working with designers whose processes they can trust. A consistent, detailed specification book can significantly streamline a project. Having the builder support your value proposition can add weight to your argument.

Having the Tough Conversations

When you sit down with clients, explain the trade-offs clearly. Delineate the services that will no longer be part of the design scope if fees are reduced. This transparency allows clients to make informed decisions and often leads them to value the full scope of your services more.

Knowing Your Limits and Staying Professional

Always have a clear idea of your non-negotiables. Know where you’re willing to be flexible and where you must draw the line to keep the project’s integrity intact. If, after this conversation, the client still remains fixated on reducing the fee without corresponding changes in scope, it might be time to walk away.

Handling requests to reduce your fees is never easy, but with a structured and open approach, you can often turn such situations into opportunities for reaffirming your value and professional standards. Remember, your time, expertise, and the quality you bring to the project are worth the investment.

If this topic resonates with you, be sure to join my upcoming free webinar, “Sales for Introverts,” where we’ll tackle real-life sales challenges with actionable strategies.

Have you faced similar challenges in your business? How did you handle them? I’d love to hear your experiences. Drop your comments below. Also, don’t forget to tune in to my next live session where we’ll discuss more real-life issues interior designers face.

For those who missed this session, it will be available on my podcast, Six Figure Designer. Listen in for a recap and more insights and click here to read my other blog posts!

Take care and happy designing!