As I wear several hats – as a designer, contractor and consultant, nowadays probably 30/30/40 percent with an increasing workload as consultant, after nearly half a century in the industry I believe I offer good value for money. I often hear and read of designers and contractors who are uncomfortable with their rates; honestly believing they are worth more than they can command, yet seemingly unable or unwilling to raise their fees for fear of losing work.
If you are able to mentally step back and examine your business and services, and think about what you are really able to offer to your potential customers in terms of quality, originality, and the cost savings involved in their project, you will begin to understand what value you can bring to their lives.
I never think in terms of quantity. I am not going to enter any competition by trying to offer more for less in the same way as a commercial operator is obliged to when tendering for (say) a major planting scheme. This has never been my market, and I do not fully understand the benefits of providing clients with the cheapest option, always the best value. (Perhaps this is why I have chosen the domestic marketplace, unless working on specialist projects requiring a particular ‘niche’ expertise, when I work on some larger Historic properties.)
I have never been awarded a project by being the cheapest, (as far as I am aware!) and therefore have no real difficulty in providing potential clients with my rates. I do not make a big issue out of these figures. They are quietly provided with my ‘personal’ documents at the time of initial interview, along with my insurance, bank details etc. I do not feel the need to prove myself to anyone – after all, I have been invited to discuss their project at their request. When discussing design or consultancy, my hourly or day rates, including expenses, together with payment terms are clearly set out. Nothing to excite them, nothing to hide, just my terms. (Obviously, construction contracts are presented in a different manner)
As such commissions are sequential, with initial layout, detailed designs, planting plans etc, all subject to invoice at each stage, it is easy to allow the client to manage their funds as they wish.
Provided that you can show and explain at each stage the benefits of undertaking the project in your nominated fashion, together with any cost savings that may be made – not only in terms of the actual construction, but perhaps in terms of future savings and additional value to the property (all of this is explained subtly, and each project should offer the designer a vision and ‘storyboard’ of the benefits of their chosen design/material choice showcasing their expertise and knowledge both of landscaping but also the lifestyle/lifestage advantages of their creation.)
This Value For Money approach should transcend any thoughts of your charges. Why not experiment by raising your rates by 25% for the next couple of enquiries and see how you get along?
Perceived value is highly valued!
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