Do You Give Away Too Much?
Have you ever had a client that just keeps asking for special favors? Calling on a Friday afternoon to see if you will make a “quick trip” out to their house on Saturday morning? Or expect you to answer their phone calls on a Sunday afternoon? Or discount your fee to get the job? Does it seem like the more that you do, the more they expect?
Then, to top it off, they don’t pay you on time, or don’t pay the entire invoice. And then when you get around to invoicing, you think that it sounds like too much, so you reduce it? This is actually a common problem among designers who suffer from a lack of boundaries.
It’s probably true. You have a good heart and truly want to help people, but you do so at great cost and harm to yourself. Often you decide in advance that the client isn’t going to value your services so you reduce the your price again. This in turn, limits your opportunities to receive larger jobs and bigger budgets. Clients intuitively sense that you do not believe in your own value and worth, so they test you to see if you will flex or you will stand firm. This sets up the scenario for what you fear the most... The possibility of rejection.
You don’t have to stay in this circle of self-destructive behavior. There is a way out. First, you must recognize that you personally own these money issues. It is not totally the fault of inconsiderate clients who often take advantage of you. You must decide now that you are ready to change this pattern. Here are three valuable tips to help you change this behavior:
Tip #1 - Clients actually respect people with good boundaries. If you are asked to discount your services, just say “No.” Clients do find the money for things that they really want. If you are asked if you will work on Saturday, politely say no. “I don’t work on Saturdays, but I would be glad to see you on Tuesday. I can do an early morning appointment or late afternoon.” Clients do have the ability to schedule professional appointments during workdays.
Tip #2 - Present your design fees, scope of work and purchasing fee in writing, and refer to them often when you are presenting the job. This will support you in holding firm when explaining prices, fees, and how and when you work. It is fine to be flexible and negotiate a fee, but the scope of the job will change as well.
Tip #3 - Make a written list of 15 to 20 results or benefits that clients get when they work with you. Post this list on the wall and say these results out loud several times per day until you’re able to say them in your sleep. Then verbalize to your prospective client the terrific results they will be getting when they ask for a discount. Once you start establishing boundaries you will find that your clients will treat you with more respect, your project budgets will increase, and you will get paid what you deserve.
Terri Taylor, IDS Professional, ASID, IIDA, IFDA, is President and Creative Director of Taylor Design Group and Design Biz Blueprint. She is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer at design conferences and interior design colleges throughout the country. She speaks on a number of topics related to the business of interior design, including: business practices, sales, marketing, motivation, leadership, success and personal growth.
Ms. Taylor is nationally known as an interior design business expert and coach who teaches and mentors interior designers to help them create successful design businesses.