am working with a client who is very conscious of natural fibers
and wants to use them throughout the interior of her home. In my
area, I find window treatment products made with natural fibers
to be scarce.
The climate is mild and the windows in question do not receive direct sunlight. The room needs to be light and airy and, of course, made with natural fibers and materials throughout. Can you assist in offering some ideas?
SOLUTION: Natural products are crucial to keeping our environment clean. Consumers now are demanding natural and innovative products for the home such as natural flooring and environmentally friendly wall and window treatments.
Several new products that fit this criterion were shown or introduced at Surfaces 2003 held in Las Vegas, NV, at the end of January. The show was widely attended by interior designers, contractors, architects and retailers from around the country. I particularly liked Provenance® Woven Woods from Hunter Douglas. They are available in unique designs in bamboo, reeds, grasses and wood slats. The beauty of this product is especially appealing because of its ability to offer maximum privacy and light control as well.
The new brushstroke design fabric is the newest addition to the premium Manhattan® Washington Square® Collection of Duette® honeycomb shades, which also happen to be from Hunter Douglas. It is a semi-opaque fabric product that offers beauty and uses natural fibers.
Both are good solutions to your client’s need for natural products!
CHALLENGE: I wonder if you can give me some ideas on what I should expect in way of compensation as an interior designer who specializes in window coverings. I am starting a job where I will be doing in-home sales for blinds, shades, shutters and soft (custom drapery) treatments for a window coverings business in my area. I need to negotiate how I am to be paid.
I have more than 10 years experience in window coverings of all types and was top salesperson in a large department store. I would appreciate any advice you can offer me in the area of compensation for my design time.
SOLUTION: The first thing to consider is putting down on paper your compensation over the years and the time you have invested. Try to decipher the amount of time you have spent on each client to get an idea of the return you get per customer visit. This will help you decide what you are worth.
With your experience, you might want to compare various compensation techniques. Here are a few possibilities:
1. Many interior designers that consult only choose to charge by the hour.
2. Retail salespeople in large department stores are usually paid an hourly rate along with a commission that can vary from five to 15 percent.
3. Sole proprietors of window treatment retail businesses may charge the client a per-hour fee with a minimum, and include a profit margin of 10 to 20 percent.
4. Others will mark up the fabric only in a window treatment sale for profits, depending on the cost of the fabric. This also will depend on the competition. Sometimes adjustments need to be made, depending on if the client is shopping you or not.
You also will encounter the client who wants to pay the lowest price. In this case, a cost plus 10 to 15 percent pricing schedule may work for you.
Remember, every job also depends on the volume of work. For example one client may hire you for 15 windows while another client may want to hire you for only two windows. Factoring in quantity may allow you to reduce your normal fee to a lower percentage to give the higher volume customer a “break” while still making a comfortable margin because of the volume.
For research, you should check out the Web site for the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) at www.asid.org. The site lists various designers and their fees, which can serve as a guide for you.
A recommended book for additional reading and a wealth of information on the designer/client relationship is Marketing and Selling Design Services by Mary Knackstedt. I also use this text as a recommended reading for my students.
Editor’s note: This is a continuing series of articles written by Sharon L. Anderson that will answer some of the many questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings as well as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business. If you have a question you would like Anderson to address, please send it to:
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
1724 E. Grand Ave.
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
Fax: (847) 356-9013
Sharon L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience in the residential and commercial areas of interior design. She is currently a faculty member at two Southern California colleges. Anderson has been featured in numerous books and publications.