Why do I charge for the first consultation (and why you should too)?
Here is a little pickle every designer gets themselves into, you get a potential client (with a big project). They dangle it in front of your face like a reward, so you do what any other one who is in fight or flight would do, you offer them free first consultation to hope of landing their business.
But the scenario isn't that straightforward now. They take your ideas and ghost you to move on to the next designer, the next one, and the next one.
I kid you not, one of my acquaintances actually managed to get up to 3Ds for FREE from another firm (she was shopping for prices to determine her fee, smart girl).
I don't know about you, but I don't have the mental or actual capacity to handle sh** like that anymore. And I don't have to, nor do you. A little while back, a potential prospect asked me why I request payment for something most designers don't (first of all, how did he know that?) and I felt, uneasy. And a little offended. Why do I charge? Let me answer this for him, for you, and anyone wondering because I am not doing free work anymore.
1- I have spent 8 years of my life practicing interior design, see, I also studied interior design for 4 years before that which costs an arm and a leg to pay for. You are not paying for my sole hour, you are paying for the total amount of experience I have got, you are paying for me to ask you the right questions and configure your space the right way. Why do lawyers charge for legal advice? The same thing, we had to go through absolute hell to get where we are right now.
2- See, I have a finite time on this fabulous place we call earth, I have no idea when I will go, but that hour you will take for free? I won't get back. So forgive me if I'd rather get paid or chill with my cat instead of discussing a "maybe" project for free. Please, stop doing this to people. Stop stealing (yes stealing is the correct word here) their time despite their will. Not only is it unethical, but it's disrespectful to everyone.
3- I am putting you through a filter. No disrespect, but it's a test. Interior Design is a luxury line of business, you won't die if you don't hire an Interior Designer, but hiring one will improve your quality of life.
So what is the test? If you can pay my hourly fee quickly, then you can afford my services, and you have earned my trust, attention, and respect.
4- We are providing a service here, even a quick consultation could be powerful enough for you to draw a map to the creative direction you need to take in your project. Our eyes are trained to see the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to reviewing floorplans or discussing the potential of a space.
So your question as a designer might be, great, I get those points, but doesn't that cut my projects by at least half? My answer won't be so comforting. Yes. You will get fewer prospects, therefore, fewer projects your way, but that's the whole point
Filtering through serious people will open you to bigger and more fulfilling projects.
Besides, would you rather have respect for your time or would you rather feel crappy about every project you get because your time virtually means nothing to the other person? I know it is uncomfortable to ask for a consultation fee, but believe me when I tell you, it will be good for your business in the long run.
Do you think any "popular" designer doesn't charge for their time? Absolutely not. Money is an exchange for energy. And this topic, despite how uncomfortable it makes people, is insanely important and we should all discuss and be open about how we charge for our work, after all, this doesn't only affect you.
You heard me! It affects the entire market of the luxury business that is Interior Design. Have any questions? Write a comment on this blog post and I will be answering it ASAP. Best of luck beautiful designers, your work is worthy, and you deserve to be paid for every second of it.