Why should you pay for a consultation?
Sometimes it is really strange to hear : ‘Oh, so you charge for a consultation”? or “Why should you pay for a consultation”? Well, this is our job to help you to make your house into a beautiful home, and like any other job, we have to get paid.. We are selling you a ‘service’ not an item like ‘sofa’ or ‘paint’ where we earn profit from…
The first step in acquiring interior design services is scheduling an “initial consultation”. An initial consultation is basically what the name implies—a first meeting between the client and the interior designer/consultant. It is usually at the client’s home, might take from 90 to 120 minutes. To too many of clients, a simple initial consultation does not seem worth at all. However, for us, it is a highly necessary part of the process. Sadly, since people will take what they can get for free, it is common for clients to take advantage of certain designers that choose not to charge for the initial consultation. They ask for opinions on colors and room layout, and once receiving what they need, proceed to not hire that designer, hence cheating the designer out of their time and mileage spent. The charging of a fee for an initial consultation is necessary for the services provided, time spent, and insurance for the consultant should the client decide not to move forward. In our case, should the client decide to move forward and continue working with us, we then credit the consultation fee towards the design package (depending on the size of the project this may not be applicable). So in a sense, the design consultation is free.
During the initial consultation, I first get to know the client and their personality, so that we can create a great design, the one that harmonizes with the client’s inner self, and enhances their lifestyle. After chatting, I then address the space in question with the client.
The initial consultation is not just an opportunity to sell future services, but it is a critical part of the overall success of a project. There is one exception. You will see many ads promoting “free initial design consultation” in home improvement publications and online. In these instances, the “designer” is a salesperson whose goal is to sell a room’s worth of product— not to offer free design advice. Spending a complimentary hour with one of these sales reps usually does not provide any significant information, other than rough price estimates, that are never accurate in the long term. It is a method of converting a client’s inquiry into a sale. Professional interior design services are, for most, a worthwhile investment. But of course they are not necessary for everyone, and for some the expense is just not an option.
The services of general contractors, cabinet makers, and home furnishing companies that are offering a “Free Design Service” or “Free In Home Design Consultation”. But is “Free design service” really free? Nope. With the cost of gas, rent, advertising, and anything involved in the manufacturing of goods, giving things away for free is just not feasible if one wants to stay in business. To explain, “Free design service” is a business tool to help generate traffic. Unfortunately, the “free” tool is very common in all trades, especially in this economy… The alleged “free” design is shared only on the condition that you commit to purchasing their product – doors, windows, sofa, mattress…
The advantage of hiring an interior designer instead of using “Free” design services is that the designer has no obligation to sell a product, so they remain focused on your needs and budget. They will know which companies to refer you to if you are in need of a custom sofa to suit your budget. Service based designers help avoid stress because there is no ulterior motive, and the top priority is YOU as our valuable client. As opposed to a salesperson that is acting on behalf on their company, an interior designer is acting on behalf of YOU.
I love my work because it is not a game or conspiracy. It is helping people make their lives better. The client’s happiness is the greatest reward a designer can ask for.
Let’s now work on your house and turn it to lovely home!