The Push and Pull of Selling Product

For residential designers, selling and procuring product can add substantially to a firm’s bottom line. Industry surveys show that in general designers who primarily bill a combination of hourly fees for design and markup for products and procurement services enjoy higher revenues than those who charge only an hourly fee or a flat rate. When engaging with clients, however, it’s important to maintain an appropriate balance and keep your design services in the forefront of the conversation.

You and I both know that selecting and procuring product is an integral part of any design project and a valuable service. As a designer once observed, products are the tools designers use to turn their designs into beautiful, functional environments. Clients, though, usually don’t see it that way. They’ve heard the stories of designers charging outlandish markups for products and are leery of designers who seem more interested in pushing product than meeting their needs. With so much product information available on the Internet, they can easily spot the difference between the price you are quoting and the retail price. And of course, they are not going to take into consideration your time and trouble in their cost/benefit calculations. Many are choosing to do their own purchasing, and some are demanding that you give them the to-the-trade discount price. They may even decide not to hire you. So tread carefully when suggesting product purchases.

Clients may balk at your fees, but they are hiring you for your design expertise and experience first and foremost. Good design is more than just product; it’s creating a beautiful, supportive environment. Sell clients on a vision of how much better their lives will be in their new environment. Create a story of what it will be like to live in the space you will design. Lead with design, and let the product follow.

Not sure how to set your fees or mark up, or how to maximize your procurement revenues? We can help. Contact us for a confidential consultation.


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