Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Giving away our designs Print E-mail
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Friday, 04 September 2009 00:00
One of the questions I hear most often is "How should I handle giving away my designs?" I just received this question in the "Ask Dave section of my website and I thougt it would be great topic for a blog so here it is. There are lots of schools of thought on this topic so I think I will list the different ways that I know other designers do it, and then I'll tell you my opinion and how I handle this situation. Some designers will not even talk to a client about their specific design without a design fee.

Some designers will talk to the clients but require a fee to measure and start work on a design.

Some designers will consult, measure and do a preliminary flloor plan but require a fee to fine tune the design and create elevations etc.

I don't know of anyone who creates designs and gives them to the customer  for  free, except the big box stores ( not sure if they even do that any more).

I always met with a potential client, measured or used their measurements and created a floor plan and elevations for no charge. The kicker is that I didn't release the drawings to them with-out a design retainer. I would present the design to them with the estiimated price and tell them that I can't release the drawings without a design retainer of 10% of the estimated cost of the job. Once they pay the fee, they can take the  designs elsewhere to get bids or they can have me do the job. If I do the job there is no fee for the designs, so if they do decide to go with me they don't pay anything for the designs. I would explain to them that one of the things they are purchasing is "me" and my design expertise. If they are shopping around I want the other guys to prove to them that they are worthy.

How will the customer know this if they are just pricing my designs?

I would sit down with my clients and do a full presentation showing them all of my designs and ideas. I walked them through every part of the design and explained to them what I did and why I did it. For example I would say something like "You said that you love to bake but everything is so spread out that it is difficult, so I created this island as a 'baking center'. I've made this section of counter top a butcher block and I've lowered it so it's easier for you to roll-dough without straining your back, I've put a prep sink here on the island as well an under-counter refrigerator so eggs and milk are readily available. I've also put a 2 drawer cabinet here with flour and sugar bins, a pop-up mixer shelf for your kitchen aid mixer and lots of drawers for utensils" etc. Can you imagine being presented a design like this and then being told you can't have it? I'm certain that not releasing a design that a custmer fell in love with was what closed the sale most of the time.

How can I sell my design expertise without doing a design? not only that but just being able to prove that I really listened to my customer goes a long way! I can't tell you the amount of times a customer said to me "Wow you really listened to me! I did listen but what I really did was take really good notes at the first meeting and I noted the "HOT buttons". I could write another blog on "NOTES" and "HOT BUTTONS". I think I will!

We are in the "customer service" industry and people will usually do business with the person or firm that they feel  is giving them the best "service". Service means paying attention to your customers wants and needs, and doing everything you can to help them achieve these wants and needs. Doing the work up front before you have the job shows that you care about them and their project. not releasing the designs with-out a retainer shows that you and your designs are a valuable resource!

Thanks for checking me out and HAVE FUN!!!