How to Stick to Your Project's Budget
You finally have the budget signed, you have the subs all lined up, and you're ready to GO on your latest fabulous design project! BUT - how do you stay on track with that project budget? What if things go off the rails?? That isn't a crazy thought in today's up-and-down supply chain situation (and WHEN will that be resolved??). It's critical to stay within your client's budget, especially if you want those all-important referrals when the project is complete. Here are my top tips for keeping that budget under control.
1. Stay Organized
The worst thing that can happen to a design project's budget is when things start to go off the rails, when small mistakes happen and then bigger challenges start to appear. The very BEST way to head off those issues is to stay super-organized in every single one of your projects. That keeps you and your team working in the most efficient and effective way - and that saves you time and money. If mistakes creep in, that's going to definitely cost someone; either you or your client. Get your processes and systems in place so that every single one of your projects can run like a well-oiled machine. That will keep you on time and on budget. And don't forget, if you need a QUICK solution to getting those processes in place, check out my Return on Interiors system.
2. Lock Down Procurement
This part of interior design has just about become the worst part of our jobs, right?? But it has to be done, and it has to be done RIGHT. The first thing you can do to control the budget here is to remind your clients that when you present them with selections, they need to approve (or change) them as quickly as possible. Because we're all seeing price hikes every single day, they need to lock in the price that you've quoted them. Once that happens, of course products can drop without warning. You want to have great relationships with your reps and your customer service people so you know what's happening with your products every single day. And in a lot of cases, you're going to have to be VERY proactive, checking in (over and over) with your vendors. You can't let this task slide because it can wreck your budget. And if you do have to reselect, remember to remind your client that speedy approvals are going to be the key!
3. Stick to Your Deadlines
If something is due to a contractor, you need to provide it as soon as possible. If you said you would finish a specific task on a specific day, be sure it's complete on time. Those deadlines can cost you in so many ways - overtime charges, late fees, and delays to the overall project. And that means you should hold your subs and contractors to the deadlines that THEY have promised to meet. Time is money in this case, literally!
4. Think Ahead
As interior designers, it's part of our job to anticipate problems before they happen. That's just being realistic. So you want to remind your clients that it's always a good idea to have a contingency cushion of funds for that plumbing issue that no one saw coming. Or for the subfloor that had to be replaced before the stunning flooring you ordered can go in. And then you need to watch out for scope creep. We've all had those clients who want to add "just one more small thing" that turns out to be much bigger, and costlier, than you wanted. And trust me, that client will still expect the extras to fit into the original budget. UGH. Remind your client that any additional scope needs its own proposal - and budget.
I have even more tips to make money issues smooth out perfectly. Just download my Guide for How to Stay on Budget here.
PS. Don't forget to let your voice be heard! Take 10 minutes to fill out the 2022 Interior Designers Survey on Fees, Salaries and Competing for Talent. Answer this survey and get your complimentary report about the state of this industry and how it is being impacted by labor changes, inventory costs, and fees hikes!