Are Your Clients Shopping You?

The Internet has made it easy for consumers to believe they can "Design/Do It Yourself" or "DIY" their own projects. As designers, we know they really can’t achieve the same result as we can create with our resources and creativity. It’s not about buying merchandise for less money, it’s about creating a beautiful interior that is functional, beautiful and cost-effective.

Are DIY clients right for you? Maybe for some designers, but not for all. If you prefer the full service approach to design, it is important to indicate that on your website and in your marketing materials. If you are a full-service designer, then you can stop reading now and make those necessary changes to your messaging.

However, if you enjoy the process of collaboration, then working with DIY clients can be rewarding.

How can working DIY clients be advantageous?
Depending on your approach to your business, you can provide a Master Plan for your client for a fixed fee and then offer monthly design coaching services with limited access for selection review. When you offer the Master Plan with coaching, you get compensated for your intellectual property and not for the management of transactions.

In our research, we’ve found that approximately 60% of your time is spent on "expediting" which includes resourcing, pricing, purchase orders, follow-up on status of your orders, scheduling, installation and problem resolution.

Many clients today, especially those on budgets, can’t afford the full-service approach, so consider offering your expertise in a package that appeals to the DIY client and you just may find that you prefer this approach for your preferred business model.

In fact, even the most affluent clients may prefer to do their own sourcing. When you think about it, your time spent on managing the process of purchasing to installation is fraught with problems and opportunities to manage thousands of small details, and often for less money than you deserve. What if you let the client experience the reality of managing the process? They will quickly learn how difficult it is to coordinate all of the details and resolve damaged merchandise along with a busy life.

Also, many clients are not wealthy enough to pay for your attention to detail and creativity in designing "one off" items that make their home spectacular. They may want a nice and comfortable home, but not care if it is ever photographed and featured in a shelter magazine. They care about comfort and affordability.

Your most important decision is whether you are willing to work with budget-minded clients that don’t value your transaction management. Ironically, you may make more money by only selling your ideas and plans. The advantage for you is less hours and less management of a team, paperwork and endless problem-solving. You get to turn over that part to the end user who is happy to pay a smaller fee with pleasure.

What’s in it for the DIY consumer?
A great plan that they can execute with more confidence than if they did it themselves. You can help them avoid costly mistakes and reap the benefit of not dealing with the time-consuming details or purchasing management. Appealing?

Gail Doby, Co-Founder of Design Success University is a business coach and consultant for interior designer entrepreneurs that aspire to build a profitable and passion-filled business. Download your complimentary copy of Fee Checklist to avoid fee fiascos.

Gail is one of Designers Today's most prominent contributors - focusing specifically on the business side of interior design.