First off, if you haven’t seen it posted on Instagram yet, next Wednesday, June 26th at Noon ET, I’ll be sharing “Why Providing a 5 Star Service Experience Brings More Profits, More Efficiency, & More Loyalty” with the WCAA (Window Coverings Association of America) in a one hour webinar! If you’d like to register, you can go here. It’s free for WCAA members, and $45 for non-members. It’s going to be a value packed hour full of take away tips, action items, and even a discount code. So it’s not to be missed! I hope to see you there!
Pricing Your Time & Services Can Be a Huge Challenge
Now onto this week’s post! Pricing out your time, your services, and your knowledge is hard. Really hard. It’s this constant internal back and forth of, is this enough to pay the bills, is this enough for the client to take me seriously, is this enough for how much work and knowledge I put in, how will this add up to a yearly income, is the client going to push back on this amount, is this amount going to make clients run for the hills? It’s an exhausting thought process, with no clear answer at the end. And every service based business goes through it, at least one time or another, if not consistently over the years as they raise their prices. But two things make this pricing process even harder – having a variety of ways to charge, and not really knowing how long your work will take you.
First, how to charge. There’s per room, per hour, per square foot, flat fee, cost plus, etc., etc. Trying to grasp onto all of these different ways to price, and be profitable, yet also charge in a way that clients are willing to pay (and able to understand) is nothing short of rocket science. It’s complicated, confusing, and a hard decision to make.
But what makes all of this even harder, is not knowing how long everything takes. Not knowing how long it takes to put together a proposal, or prepare for a design concept meeting, or prepare for the design presentation, or select dining chairs, or choose all of the furnishings for a living room that’s 13′ x 15′, will really hold you and your firm back. Because you’re left just guessing. Assuming. Making promises that are impossible to keep. Risking your bottom line. And your nights and weekends. Because you really don’t know exactly how long it takes to choose the furniture for a living room.
Track Your Time, For Everything
How do you alleviate this? Track and time everything. Even if you’re not charging by the hour, or even if you do charge by the hour but what you’re doing isn’t billable, track everything that you do, and then analyze the heck out of it.
It’s not until you start timing all of your processes that you’ll be able to confidently price, propose, speak to clients about timelines, and add or subtract things from your schedule. Because until you do, you won’t really know how much time everything costs you. You may have a general idea, but you won’t really know, like to the hour, until you start actually tracking it, analyzing it, and making decisions based upon it.
Time Tracking Will Set You Free
I’ve done this with my own business, and it has honestly been life changing. I started tracking everything that I do for a client service consultations within Mydoma (an amazing interior design project management software). I was able to track how long each section of the consultation took, how long the overall process took, and how long the sections & the overall process took from one client to the next. That way I could see what was a pattern, and what was just a one off. It was eye opening to say the least.
I was actually shocked by how long some portions of my process took. So it let me really think and decide, is there something I can do to reduce how much time this takes? Is this time well spent? Am I being efficient in how I work? Should I rearrange the order in which I work? All found out by tracking.
Before I started tracking consultations, I didn’t really know how long they took. I also didn’t know how long each section took. And therefore, embarrassingly enough, I didn’t really know how much I was actually making per hour. Sure, I had a guess, but guessing doesn’t get you very far. But once I timed everything and could really see how I spent my time, I was able to make better decisions on scheduling, on pricing, and on structuring my work flow and my work week.
Control Your Time, Instead of Letting It Control You
I often work with designers who say that one portion of the process always takes them longer than they think, or they work more hours than they charged the client for as they were off in their estimates, or their client is irritated because everything took longer than they thought. But once you start time tracking everything you do, you have a chance to take control over all of that. You won’t have to make a blind guess anymore at how long a phase will take, or how long it will be before the presentation, or what fee you should be charging for your services.
You also won’t have to make a guess on whether or not you have the time for one more project, or to take that trip to High Point, or that week off for vacation. Once you know how long your work takes, the world literally opens up for you. And you start to control your work, your schedule, and your profitability, rather than all of that controlling you.
So go the extra mile for yourself. Time everything that you do. Client after client. Time after time. And then really study it. Really analyze it to see if you’re wasting time. Or working inefficiently. Or spending too much time on one part of the design process, and not enough on the other. Cold, hard facts and data may be snooze worthy, but they can also set you free.
If you’d like even more ideas on how to provide the kind of client experience that gets you higher fees and profits, get on the Wait List for the next session of “The Exceptional Experience”!