In our K+BB Designers Network LinkedIn Group, Cindy Sherman, a kitchen & bath designer in Fort Morgan, Colo., asked the following questions: Do you charge for your “shopping” time, whether online, thumbing catalogs or meeting with local contacts? If I take the time to do all of the selections and they don’t purchase them through me, I have wasted valuable time. How do you all handle this?
We want to share the responses with you.
Kristi Wyndham, CKD, Lead Designer at Beaches Woodcrafts
As a 35-year veteran in the kitchen industry, I have ALWAYS charged for my time. If you don’t put a value on your time, no one else will. I use it as a qualifier; if they are not willing to put down a design retainer, they are probably not in my market. I do give every client one free hour of consultation to sell myself and my services. This is a verbal consultation and a few pencil sketches…by the time we are 30 minutes into the meeting, they are signing the retainer check. Many of those who have walked away after the hour send their friends to me because they learned the hard way that my fee is worth every dime.
Laura Vlaming, CKD, Certified Kitchen Designer at Arkiteriors
I charge an hourly rate for all design services, period, but no markup on products, since pricing can be found on the Internet. I tell my customers they are paying for my time and my service. If possible, I have the customer pay the vendor directly, telling the vendor I am passing on my discount. My customers are happy about getting the discount, and I’m happy I can get my value in services provided. The caveat is that many times I don’t charge for all the time I actually spend searching for that perfect light fixture or knob.
When it comes to the plumbing fixtures, depending on the project scope, I often have the plumber order the products per my specifications. The plumbers I work with give the customer a good price so they can have control over all the parts required. This works well, so 1) The plumber is responsible for coordinating pick up/deliveries & possible returns or missing parts (time). 2) When the plumber is passing on discounted pricing, it discourages clients from purchasing on the Internet, possibly ordering wrong (or omitting parts required), leading to job delays.
Anne-Marie Harvey, AKBD, Designer/Owner/Author at Fresh Kitchen and Bath Design, LLC
I also charge for all of my time. It says right on my website that clients receive one hour of complimentary time where we discuss the project in detail, but no work begins until I receive the project initiation fee. I also have a four-hour minimum charge, so if someone doesn’t want plans drawn up, for example, just needs help with selections, they must pay an invoice for four hours of my time before we begin.
I often end up spending a bit more time than I bill for, but if you are spending time on someone’s project, you should be paid. I am only designing at this point, so I am not making money on selling products. I know some designers who sell product will return some of the design fee or give a reduced rate if the client buys through them.
Cindy Sherman, K&B Designer in Fort Morgan. Colo.
Thank you for the insights, it seems we all struggle with similar issues – spending more time than we bill for. I have trade accounts with some companies that complement my business, as well as a local showroom. If the client is interested in a particular sink and faucet, it’s easy for me to find one through my resources. To compensate, I can either bill for selection time or add a margin to the product (which is minimal because I still pass along a discount). I guess it’s a way to control that the correct products/specifications/dimensions are selected and make sure they are on site when needed.