Fix the Rate, Flex the Fee

Interior design projects and interior design clients come in all types. So it only makes sense that you should have more than one way to bill for your services. Fit the fee to the service and the service to the fee. That doesn’t mean you should accept less in some cases. Rather, it means adjusting your fee structure so that you can bill the same rate regardless of the type of project to accommodate how the client prefers to pay.

Most designers prefer to charge an hourly rate or, if purchasing is involved, hourly plus mark up. Clients, on the other hand, worry about budgets spiraling out of control, and prefer a flat fee. If you are experienced and good at estimating the time and other expenses involved in a project, you can convert your hourly rate into a flat fee, allowing some leeway for the inevitable unexpected occurrences. Even with a flat fee, clients need to understand that requests for changes and additions will involve additional costs.

A flat fee works well when the client knows what they want and the services required are fairly standard, with no apparent complications involved in executing the project. When the client is less certain about what they want or has concerns about the budget, you can offer them a menu of bundled services. This might include a consultation, design recommendations, color and fabric selections, design plans and sketches, purchasing, project management, etc., or some combination thereof. In this way the client can engage as much or as little of your services as they feel they require, while you devote a fixed amount of your time for your normal fee.

Need help determining what is the right mix for your business? Join me for my session, “Creating the 21st Century Designer,” at the Interior Design Society Conference in Dallas on Friday, April 1, from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. For more information and to register, go to I hope to see you there.



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