As an interior designer, it is an all too common feeling to want to pass along that coveted discount to your clients. And why not? You surely are not getting paid solely on discounts and kickbacks alone. The client is likely paying you a separate fee as well. Also, won’t this give you an advantage over the other designers? What a nice gesture it would be to split your discount with them!
However, have you thought about the fact that this may actually be killing your business?
Below I am going to list the top 3 reasons why you should NEVER discount your services or share your discount.
It will ultimately undervalue the perceived value of your company. Maybe not right away, but over time it almost certainly will. Yes, the interior Design landscape is competitive and you need to compete. However, Interior Design is a luxury service that is unfortunately just not affordable to everyone.
That being said, it is still a growing industry. The ones who are fortunate enough to hire you are doing so because they want your expertise. They are looking to you to make that space more functional, they want you to be the liaison between trades, and they want access to your trade-only account so they can have that wow factor! Along with many other reasons!
In short – they want the value you bring with your years or experience. Whether that experience was being in school, or out in the field.
Discounting your services will position yourself as the cheapest company – not the most valuable company. Once you go down that path it is almost impossible to get off of it.
It is important to not negotiate your process and stand firm. Every person is unique, everyone has different needs and requirements, every site condition has a different set of design parameters. Being secure in a sales and design process is essential to the quality of work and ensuring that your clients become your biggest, cheapest, and most highly-valued marketing engine.
It may be tempting to start offering up some discounts when you are just starting out, or when business slows down a bit – but I urge you to stay strong! It will inevitably pay off down the road to not offer discounts.
As mentioned above, you want to attract a clientele that values your expertise. Those clients will listen to you and take your advice because they appreciate what you do – not just because they feel like they are getting a “deal” or can simply purchase items from you cheaper than they can from the store!
Speaking from experience this is a losing situation. I once offered a discount for a friend-of-a-friend and it was a complete disaster. They monopolized my time and I ended up working for less than minimum wage. And all for a project I was not proud of, and couldn’t even take photos of for my portfolio. Not only was this project a huge time suck, he bragged about what a great “deal” he was getting from me. Luckily word never got out to my clients, but it would have not looked very good.
This leads me to my last point…
I had a hairdresser that I used for a few years that I stopped going to. Every time I went for regularly scheduled appointments and for the EXACT same service, I never knew how much my bill was going to be. We’re talking a difference of $50-$100 each time I went! Even though I spoke to them about it, I ended up moving on, simply because I was left with an uneasy feeling. It just felt unprofessional.
Now I am not an expert in the hair business, but I do know a good experience when I’ve had it. The same applies to design services too! Think about getting a referral from a happy client. But maybe the referral has a smaller budget than their friend. Do you give a little discount just to get under their budget? I say N.O.!
You are better off finding options for them that cost less rather than discounting your selection.
Imagine your initial client finding out you could have actually done their kitchen for much cheaper! Or the discount client sending you referrals because you can do “projects on the cheap”. Either way, it is a recipe for disaster!
Are there exceptions to the rule? Of course, there always is, isn’t there? But if you hold fast to these values, you’re sure to steer clear of choppy “discount designer” waters – and you and your business will be happy and healthier for it!
Over the past 20 years, Lisa has been providing design solutions to people struggling with difficult spaces. Specializing in renovations and commercial spaces, she has assisted people throughout the Ottawa area ditch the design doldrums, and make the most of their interior spaces.
As of September 2019, Lisa has been working as an Account manager for Mydoma. She is excited to be a part of a team that is passionate about helping other design professionals thrive in their businesses.
If you’d like to talk to Lisa about how Mydoma might fit into your own design process, feel free to book her here.