In this episode I dive into an ordeal every designer deals with at some point in their business – the client pricing pushback!

My short and simple answer is: get ahead of it and communicate everything early and often!

Through the episode I share exactly why I believe that early communication about pricing is the key to facing this objection head-on and lessons I’ve learned the hard way over the years. I dive into specific ways to keep your message clear and upfront, how to showcase your worth using your promotional materials and client facing documents, and of course why charging for your consultation is another way to pre-qualify your clients and set clear expectations about the level of service you’re offering.

Because the pricing pushback is so common when we’re starting a business, I include a few ways of how to handle it; what to say and what not to say so that you can commit to clients to align with your value and understand your worth.


Read the Full Transcript ⬇️

Hey, hey, hey, it’s Rebecca, and you’re listening to Resilient by Design today. I want to tackle in this shorty episode, pricing objections and what to do when a client immediately, actually before they’re even a client. So how do you handle it when they have pricing objections when they are resistant to conversations around money and pricing, and likely your design fee?

So let’s talk about the money, honey. This is something that I have experienced a lot over the years, especially in the early years. I can say that. I didn’t do a great job of communicating with clients early on. You know, if you’ve taken power of process with me, you know, I’m like a broken record. I constantly am reminding students that you need to communicate with your clients early and often.

And by early, I mean, that starts with how you show up in the world. That starts with, Your website, the copy that’s on your website, your Instagram, if you have any other online materials, if you have documents you send to clients before you have a discovery call, then that means the discovery call, and so on.

The idea is that the better you get at communicating your value, your services, It’s potentially your fees, the less pushback you’re going to get on pricing, the less you’re going to have clients say, Oh wow. So let me tell you a story. I’m not sure if I’ve shared this story here on the podcast before. So if you’ve heard it before, sorry, but several years ago I was starting out this new fixed fee pricing model.

And if you guys are curious what my fixed fee pricing model is, I share it with you inside my course pricing with confidence. You can go get it on my website. Essentially I was exploring this idea of fixed fee. I really liked the idea of a fixed fee because I hated talking about the money. I hated having those situations where you would like send out, you know, that final invoice or any invoice and you would just like hold your breath and wait to hear from the client.

And I just hated that. It really ate at me. And it was just. The least enjoyable part of my job. I’m happy to say I’ve eliminated that now, but when I first thought, okay, I’m going to do a fixed fee. This is going to be great. I went to a consultation. They paid me for the consultation. I think at the time I was charging like 450 or 500 and it was in this like big condo downtown Toronto.

I got there. And immediately realized like, Ooh, these people, I don’t think they really have my taste and I’m not sure they don’t seem like the type of people who really have money. And I started to get a little bit nervous. I realized as I was standing there that I had done a very poor job, really prequalifying them before I got there.

But anyhow, I thought, well, they’ve paid me, you know, maybe they have money. They could afford to pay for the consultation. which I will say that is a game changer. Once you start charging for consultations, you will get less pushback on pricing because you are immediately pre qualifying and you are immediately eliminating many tire kickers, but some slip through the cracks.

So we did the consultation. I remember thinking like, now, now that I’m better at trusting my gut. Pretty sure I was sitting in their space being like, this is not a project for me. Like they are not going to hire me. But anyhow, I went through my spiel at the end and I said, I will, you know, I will send you over a proposal.

I think the next day or a couple days later, I sent them an email and I sent them my proposal. And I don’t remember the amount, but it was high for me at the time. It was definitely more than 10, 000. I remember doing that thing where I’m like, yeah, and you hit send on the email and then you wait. Well, shoot, I waited a day.

I waited three days, a week goes by and I don’t hear anything. So I’m like, well, I should probably follow up. So I send an email and I follow up with them saying, I just wonder if you had any questions about the proposal. Nothing ghosted us like absolutely nothing. And guess what? I never heard from them again.

And so I can only assume that they were so offended by the price that I presented them, that they were like, this woman is crazy. I can’t believe that she thinks it’s going to be this much. We never would have hired her for the consultation. Had we known that her fees would be this much. So. So this might happen to you.

Maybe it’s happened to you. Don’t sweat it. This is all just part of the learning, but I can tell you it sucks. So I wanted to share a little bit more with how you can stop these situations happening and avoid having that story again. And so what I’m going to say is you might still get objections for price.

Like you might still have the consultation, think you’ve requalified them and then present them your proposal. And they are like, Whoa, that’s more. But. If you do it in the way that I teach, where you schedule a circle back call, where you’re either on Zoom or in their house to present the pricing, you can get their feedback in real time.

And if they are, if they say, okay, this is more than we thought. or we can’t afford this or whatever, or is there wiggle room, you know, whatever their objection is. If you can, if you’re with them in person, when they’re receiving the information, you can see their reaction. They’re going to say something or they don’t say something.

And you can ask questions asking, how’s it going so far? Do any questions come to mind this way you can get ahead of it and they may not hire you, but at least you’ll know why. And you’ll have closure instead of the like. Sending off the proposal into the interweb and nobody knows where it went. Shoot, maybe they never got it.

I don’t know. What do you do though when you are pre qualifying, right? And so pre qualifying is showing up, being super clear on how you work on your site, on your website, on your Instagram, in your paperwork, in your discovery call.

So when you have that phone call with them, make sure you’re asking the right questions and make sure you’re sharing the right information. And then in the consultation, what are you communicating to them? Like, how are you setting their expectations that you are going to be at a certain level? What I recommend you do is that you talk about the level of finishes.

You talk about how you work with custom vendors. You talk about. Things that are going to give them an indication like this woman is not going to be cheap. She may not be the most expensive, but you need to lay the groundwork. If you just say, yeah, yeah, I can do anything. And maybe that’s where you’re at and you want to do anything and you don’t care if people object over price because you’ll work with them and you negotiate.

Then that’s amazing. And probably this episode is not for you, but this episode is really for the people who are wanting to charge a higher fee. They know that they have that experience. They know that they offer that value and yet clients aren’t seeing the value. So first thing is. You need to make sure you have pre qualified them.

If you haven’t pre qualified them with a discovery call, it’s going to be more likely that you’re going to get into situations or into homes where the client is not in alignment with your value. So that’s the first thing. And you guys can get my free discovery call script on my website. Just go to Rebeccahay.

com forward slash discovery, I think it is, or discovery call, go check it out. You’ll find it there. It’s in the free resources. And then the next thing is you need to talk about money. Again, early and often you need to talk about money. You need to talk about investment. You need to talk about, well, in the last project that we worked on, that sounds about similar in the end, the project spend was a hundred thousand or in the end it was this, however you want to talk about money.

And it’s up to you if you want to bring in like past projects as an example, or if you want to like have a cheat sheet in front of you, you’re welcome to tell them exactly how you calculate your design fee. But it’s really important, or maybe you have a minimum design fee. That’s something that I’ve started doing, you know, our minimum design fee is 20, 000.

Anything less than that. I mean, I don’t say that wording to the client, but anything less than that is just not worth my time because I have a team that I need to support and I’m not doing it all myself anymore. And so if they don’t want that level of service, then we’re not for them. Like we are going to offer a higher level of service because we have multiple humans collaborating on their project.

It’s not the same as a one woman show. And so you need to communicate with them and let them know the money, like have the money conversation early. So that’s two. And then three is what do you do when you’re in the situation and they’re saying it’s too expensive. The way I see it is you have two choices.

You can hold firm and say, this is our price. You know, we’d love to work with you, but this is our price. And here’s why, or two, you could say, what did you have in mind? And how much were you considering a reasonable spend for an interior designer and see what they say. And then what you can just do, if they give you a number, you have to determine, is it even worth it for that number, but regardless reduce the scope.

So a great way to get. In front of someone’s objection, even if it’s pricing over materials, right? Or pricing over construction, or if they’re having an objection to pricing on fabric and furniture, what you can do is say, absolutely, we can design for that amount, but we’ll have to reduce the scope. So there’s always going to be a way that you can meet them.

And that’s going to be up to you to decide if you want to work with them. If they say we’ve got 5, 000 to spend, but you know that you can’t design their whole house for 5, 000, then you could say You know what, for that amount, I’d be happy to design the kitchen, and then we can look at phasing out the project, for example.

I hope those tips were helpful for you. I just wanted to be this like a quick short reminder that we all deal with this. We all get clients who object to our price. Doesn’t matter what level you’re at. You could be charging 500 or you could be charging 50, 000. You’re still always going to get those clients that need you to reconfirm your value or to let them know here’s why.

And here’s what you’re going to get, but I think that you’ve got this and I think you can do this. And I know because I’ve been there and I’ve done it, and I’ve been able to continually increase my design fee. I’ve been able to continually increase my service level. So if I can do it, I know you can too.

Sometimes it’s just having someone like me in your ear telling you, you can do it, but don’t forget. Early and often. Okay. If you guys enjoyed this episode and if you want to know more about pricing, your services have a really great bite sized shorty course, kind of like the shorty episode, though it’s a bit longer than a 10-minute episode.

It’s called pricing with confidence. You can check it out. It’s at Rebeccahay. com forward slash pricing. It is a very quick-to-consume breakdown of all the pricing models that I’ve seen in our industry. And I share exactly how I calculate my design fee. And how I bill it to the clients. And you can take that and learn from it and pull and use what I do or find some other way to calculate your services.

But I think it’s really helpful to see what other people in the industry are doing. So go check out that little course and I’ll see you soon.