4 Ways to Present a Budget Your Clients Will Understand

Interior design budgets can be such a headache! They're tough to create (especially in today's supply chain nightmare) and they can be even tougher to explain to your client. UGH! And sometimes you want that particular project so much that you're willing to skip over a serious budget talk so you don't "scare off" the client. Not a great idea. So how DO you present a budget that your clients will really get and buy into?? I have 4 ideas that I use to make this tough discussion SO much easier!

1. Give Them a Range

It can be difficult to nail down costs when your clients aren't sure what they want or what things actually cost. I like to give my clients a visual range. What's that? Well I'll show them photos of one of my projects and I'll say "This room was done with a lot of custom goods and some high-end sources. The furnishings budget would be a range between XX and XX." Then I'll show them a room that's some custom and mid- to high-end goods with a price range. And finally a room that was done with mid-range and retail. It lets them understand that a custom look is going to be more expensive, and it gives them an idea of where that pricing will land. That's MUCH easier to understand.

2. Be Completely Honest

I get that presenting a BIG number can be intimidating, even when you know your clients are wealthy and probably have a large budget in mind. But you need to remember that if you aren't honest about fees, you're going to end up paying the price later in the project. This isn't the time to be nervous or to make assumptions about what your clients will or will not accept. Be CLEAR on all costs - especially if you see red flags in what a contractor or sub is presenting. That helps build essential TRUST with your clients. They'll buy in to whatever you're telling them if you are honest and transparent about what a project really entails!

3. Don't Commoditize Your Value

Never, ever act as if your fees are a second thought or that you're nervous about why you charge what you do for the design process. YOU are an expert - you have creative knowledge that they need!! That cannot be "dumbed down" or commoditized. And that includes every hour that you spend on a project. Too often designers will avoid counting those hours accurately, afraid of what the client will think. Don't shortchange yourself! You should be able to accurately estimate the hours it will take for any size project, based on your experience. And then you just build in a buffer for those unexpected moments. And when you present the budget to your clients, you carefully and honestly explain how those hours will be used!

4. Don't Skip Hidden Fees 

You also should be completely upfront about shipping fees, taxes, warehouse costs and more. As an industry, too many people have tucked those fees into invoices without explaining them. The more information your client has about the ACTUAL costs of a project, the better for them and for our industry as a whole! Your budget presentation should include every single cost on a project and you should explain it all as carefully and thoroughly as you can!

To help you with this touchy subject, download my FREE Design Budget Worksheet! It will help you nail down your client's budget AND present it to them in a way that they will understand!



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