If you haven’t been to the site recently or made it all the way to the bottom of the post the last few weeks, registration for the last session of “The Exceptional Experience” is open and we’re already receiving sign ups! So make sure to get in before the Early Bird promo code EARLYBIRDWINTER pricing ends on October 18th, or at least before we start on November 4th. I don’t know if this class will be offered LIVE again at any point because I’ll be going on maternity leave starting mid-January. And well, you just never know what to expect with newborn babies. So if you missed the Fall session but wished you hadn’t, now is your time to get in!
Next Monday we’ll be finishing up the Fall Session of “The Exceptional Experience” and it’s been an absolutely fantastic time. The designers in the course have been sharing just how incredibly helpful and motivating the content of the course has been, while also gaining great value from each other’s ideas and experiences as well.
Throughout the course we’ll be covering a variety of topics – some very simple but extremely effective, and some new and challenging. It’s a take it and run with it class to see results as it’s all about implementation. But if you know there’s room for improvement when it comes to your firm’s client experience and you’re ready to do the work, there’s an incredible amount to be gained! Register here now!
Going Up! – Your Fees
Now onto this week’s post! As the year begins to wrap up, and you start to look at your goals for this year, you’re probably going through a roller coaster of emotions. Maybe elation with how much you’ve accomplished. Maybe bewilderment at why certain things are left unachieved. Or maybe somewhere in between. The end of a year (and let’s be honest, we really are almost at the end of the year) can bring up a lot of introspection into where you are, where you aren’t, and where you want to go next.
One of the places you probably want to go is greater profitability. Understandable. Most designers just aren’t charging enough, or charging fairly, for their work as often times they don’t fully calculate their hourly fees. There’s a lot of “extra” time that you just don’t end up billing for in order to maintain the client relationship and to lessen client conflict. So, you just decide that you’ll just eat the cost of that time spent.
But over time you realize, enough is enough, I need to pay myself fairly, especially if I want to keep this firm going. And so you decide to raise your fees. And you should. You just want to make sure that you’re ready.
Going Up! – Your Client’s Expectations
As you raise your fees, you’re also raising expectations. Clients are naturally going to expect more out of a designer that charges $150 hour than they are from a designer that charges $75. Just like we expect more out of a Mercedes than we do from a Honda. A Honda is fantastic, and it’s actually all that we buy here in the Uhl household, but we all know it’s not a Mercedes. A Mercedes delivers more luxury, more performance, more amenities, and so does the dealership selling it, than a Honda does. That’s just the obvious fact of the matter. Because a raised price means a raised set of expectations.
Now when you’re increasing your fees incrementally, $10 more an hour, or $15 more an hour, it’s not that big of a jump and the expectations aren’t going to necessarily rise. But as you accumulate a few bumps in your fees over time, you’ll find yourself in a new category, maybe without even realizing it. Maybe you started yourself at $75 an hour, then bumped that to $85 after two years, then to $100 after two more years, then a few more years down the road and you’re at $125 an hour. That’s a very big difference from $75. A 60 hour project that would have cost a client $4,500 in design fees now costs $7,500. That’s a 60% price increase.
Now, we won’t go much farther into the math of it, but with the 60% price increase, comes about a 60% increase of expectations as well. We pay more for things because they’re better, more valuable, higher quality, highly sought after, or they make our lives easier. So as you raise your prices, you want to think about what else in your firm needs to rise along with it.
How Do You Meet Rising Expectations?
Some things to think about are – how can you increase the amount of attention you give to your client? Not in an overwhelming way, but in a way that makes them feel more VIP. How can you personalize your services more and accommodate certain client needs? How can you go above and beyond when it comes to making sure that clients are satisfied? How can you organize your systems and processes so that things become even MORE convenient for your client? What are other firms doing that’s causing problems and irritation for clients, and how can we be the firm that doesn’t do that?
You want to start by thinking about who your typical client is, or better yet your ideal client, and brainstorm on what they’re hiring a designer for. Did they hire you because they just don’t have time? Or because they don’t have design abilities? Or because they want a rare and unique design that they can be sure no one else has?
Whatever the reason is that most clients are hiring you, you want to start to build your service model around that. You want your services and client experience to accommodate the very reason they hired you, making them more and more happy that they did in fact hire you. An adults only five star resort in a tropical area knows that clients booked a vacation with them because they need to get away from it all – they need time to destress from regular life – kids, work, and just the hustle and bustle of modern day living. So, every thing on the resort and in their service model revolves around and reflects that fact – spas, water sports, beautiful dining, service attendants that go above and beyond to create a relaxing and romantic environment.
Your design firm can be the same. If you know that your clients are hiring you because they’re higher end and looking for a way to differentiate themselves, then focus on providing one of a kind, totally unique designs. Talk about how you travel the globe to be able to give clients the kinds of rare and interesting pieces that aren’t available to anyone else. Talk about how you never use the same piece twice. Provide them with access to unique one of a kind antique dealers and experiences that aren’t usually allowed for the public. Invite them on a shopping trip to Paris.
I’ll Pay You More, But….
Whoever your typical client is, you want to meet their rising expectations, as you raise your fees. It’s a model that works, and it’s a model that makes sense. “I’ll pay you more, but now I expect more.” So you want to be ready – to focus more on service, to organize your systems and processes further, to lead projects bravely through the good times and bad, and to uphold and deliver even higher standards.
Because as the price of anything rises, we expect the value to rise along with it. A Lee sofa is more expensive than a La-Z-Boy sofa for a reason. Well, really a slew of reasons. But that’s also where the the good news lies – you can continue to raise your fees, as you continue to raise your ability to meet and exceed client expectations. The more you meet and exceed them, the more your fees can continue to increase.
Because clients don’t just pay you to design their space. There are lot of people who can do that – and a lot of ways that it can be accomplished. Instead clients pay you to make their lives easier, more convenient, less stressful, and more enjoyable. And the more and more you’re able to deliver upon those reasons, the more and more profitable you can become.
Share in the comments below, how have you risen to meet your clients’ expectations as you continued to raise your fees? I’d love to hear!
And if you want to make sure that you’re able to meet those rising expectations as you raise your fees in these next few months, join “The Exceptional Experience,” for the last session of 2019!
During our time together you’ll get even more ideas on how to provide the kind of client experience that gets you greater profits, efficiency, and loyalty, register here now!