Over the course of the last few months I have learned a harsh lesson in worth. How much is it worth to client, how much is it worth to you, how much is it worth to the artisan, and how much is it worth to the manufacturer/distributor and what is your worth? Dead silence… A difficult lesson to learn.
Yes, I expanded about the benefits of a brick and mortar store like Lewis and Sheron, but now I want to expand on the runner. That’s what I call myself. I am the runner. I get the idea, I run to the artisans that may be able to help me make it come to fruition. They say, yes maybe no depending on if they can get their hands on this particular item. I run to go find it. I get said item and return it to the artisans. Artisans say ok, then tell me an inflated price, and I start running again. Unrealistic, overpriced but who am I to judge someone else’s worth? I start running again and retrieve competitor’s quotes.
After a thorough search, I realize the Artisan is not the best and not the cheapest. Now I am being chased. I have a pool of candidates that threw something to me, but now they see they are in a shared pool. Now I am the hunted. I don’t want the most the sought after artist. I want the one that would do it for free, the one that has a true love for their craft. That’s the one I will pay the most. You see my problem? It’s all a game, a sick little game. The Artisan complains he has no food, his electricity is about to get cut off, and he is behind in his rent. He won’t budge on his LA/NY prices. We are in Atlanta. The Artisan sees my prospective client pull up in an expensive car and his price is based on what he thinks he should get paid based on what the client can afford. This is why we have no good help, we have no loyalty and we are constantly looking for the next best thing.
We are used to being used, worse yet, we cannot bear the fact that someone else might have recognized it along the way. It’s great to stay steadfast and demand what you think you are worth. But you may end up pricing yourself out of the game. I did come across a clever site called www.thumbtack.com you can post an ad for help for free, and they will find skilled laborers in your area to bid on the job. You can read their reviews and see all of the quotes come rolling in. Some good some bad, but you can get a grasp of what the market is calling for. Last week I needed 8 Ikea cabinets put together. I posted an ad and received 5 bids within a half day. I had bids at $400, $500, $600, $650, and $2000. Obviously the latter did not really want the job. He priced himself out of the game. And buddy if you are reading this please note that cabinets only cost $1500. I opted for the $400 laborer and he ended up hanging curtain rods and art with no extra charges. A pretty sweet deal all in all.
I hear it all the time. “You must be expensive.” People think hiring an interior designer is a luxury. I say if you are remodeling or redesigning you can’t afford not to hire a designer. We are keen on which short cuts to take and which ones not too. We know how to maximize space, we know what paint colors look like on the swatch and on the wall. We know how much fabric to order for window treatments. If you are a newbie to this stuff mistakes can be quite costly. Hire a designer. They get great discounts and if they mess up, they have to pay for it, not you. The going rate these days? Anywhere between $100-$200/hr. But the majority of the time they make that up in discounts for you, so you basically don’t have to come out of pocket for them much at all. Finding the best designer for your job is vital. Just because someone is good at designing it doesn’t mean that they are a perfect fit for you. Be cognizant that you will be spending half of your days with them and they will be in your personal space. They will become much like a member of the family. They will be your referee, your confidant, your therapist and your friend, (if they are a good designer.) Don’t be alarmed and get sticker shock; pay them their worth.
In the beginning I used to charge just a design fee and then added a surcharge of 20% on all orders. Well that worked great in the beginning. But what happens when the project is dragging? All items for installation are purchased and the contractor keeps running into problems. 4 months down the road I started doing the math. I made $176/week. I cried real tears. I had worked my tail off and I was so not winning. I clearly was doing it for the love because I could not pay my bills. I found that I had to charge an hourly rate. It also did something miraculous. My clients no longer called me to deliberate on the purple purple or just the purple. They stopped calling at 8am. They stopped calling at 12am. I got my life back. I no longer was asked to stop by the paint store and pick up a few gallons. I no longer received texts saying well he is charging too much so why don’t you and I just do it ourselves. While in my mind I’m thinking I don’t even do that for my house, why in the heck would I drive 30 miles to do it in your house for free? Much less why would you want me to do it anyway? Trust me, Black and Decker power tools are not my friend and just because I have been around builders my whole life doesn’t mean my aim with a hammer won’t possibly turn out to be deadly. Do your homework, know the going rate and then pay your contractors their worth. You will thank me in the end.
At Lewis and Sheron Textiles all registered Interior designers are eligible for discounts on every purchase. Stop in the store and sign up today. If you aren’t a designer it’s a great place to bump into several in action. Grab on to the one the suits you and you too can be on your way to good design and great savings.