trade tales | Aug 21, 2020 |
How often do you reassess your fees?

Design fees are a delicate balance of staying profitable and competitive while still being reasonable enough to pull in new business. We asked five designers—Tiffany Brooks, Brian Brown, Aurielle Jones, Ariel Okin and Chloe Warner—how often they reevaluate their rates.

Brian Brown
Brian BrownCourtesy of Brian Brown

Reading the room
“I typically revisit my rates and fees twice a year—not that I change them every time, but it’s always good to check in and see if we are [staying] profitable and competitive. In reviewing business at the beginning of 2020, I felt that it was time to raise our hourly fees. Then—bam! We all know what happened. So instead of raising the fee, I actually wound up lowering it. Not by a lot, but just enough to keep people interested. I had never done that before, but it was worth it—I retained clients because they were grateful, which kept money flowing in. There was urgency to it as well, as my fees are going back up to what they were on September 1st. Now, there is more work than I know what to do with, so we’ll probably hire another designer next month!” —Brian Brown, Brian Brown Studio, San Diego

Aurielle Jones
Aurielle JonesCourtesy of Aurielle Jones

Always evaluating
“I’m reassessing my rates constantly, hoping to find that sweet spot. Every project is different, and oftentimes I leave a project wishing I charged more. When I have that feeling, I reassess for the next project. In my opinion, there is no need to wait six months to a year to change your rates, especially when you are just starting out.” —Aurielle Jones, Vivid Interiors, Atlanta

Ariel Okin
Ariel OkinCourtesy of Ariel Okin

Growth experience
“We’ve adjusted our rates about three times since I opened my firm. As our firm grew and the scale of our projects became larger, we shifted from hourly to flat fee to flat fee and commission.” —Ariel Okin, Ariel Okin Interiors, New York

Chloe Warner
Chloe WarnerCourtesy of Chloe Warner

On Par with Peers
“We adjust our rates and fees very rarely—maybe once every four years. This isn’t a business where clients are likely to be swayed by small rate changes, and as long as we are on par with our peers, I don’t see the need to reinvent the wheel. When I was just starting, though, I did need to be told to raise my rates—at one point, a business consultant I worked with told me that I was charging what his car mechanic charged, and a few years after that, a mentor told me that my rates were what she called ‘intern rates.’ I got the message and corrected it, but it’s always scary to change your fees.” —Chloe Warner, Redmond Aldrich Design, Oakland, California

Tiffany Brooks
Tiffany BrooksCourtesy of Tiffany Brooks

Yearly visit
“We reassess the industry (and what our rates should be) annually by making phone calls, going to networking lunches, and taking note of what others are finding in social media networking groups.” —Tiffany Brooks, Tiffany Brooks Interiors, Chicago

Homepage photo: A project by Redmond Aldrich Desgin | Photo: Lindsey Salazar

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