There are so many interior design myths I could write a complete dissertation. I often wonder where the some of this “advice” comes from and why people listen to it. One of the myths that makes my eyes bleed every time I see it talked about in forums is being “transparent” with pricing. What the hell? This is not good business. It is not even part of most businesses! What you owe your client is to explain WHAT you charge, WHY you charge, and WHEN you charge.

Let me talk about it from another perspective.

I bake a cake for sale. A customer wants to buy my pretty cake. I tell them the price of the cake. I tell them about all the special pieces of the cake. I am a good marketer so I tell them why the cake is going to make their mouth water and blow their diet to hell and back it is so damn tasty- they will just die right there on the floor it is so good. I do not make them jump through a ton of hoops ( aka detailed questionnaires) to buy my cake. I make it easy to buy my cake, however pricey it may be.

I tell them when the price of the cake must be paid. (now or no cake for you!)

I will tell them the key ingredients I used to make the cake- briefly. BUT not how much of any one particular ingredient nor do I tell them HOW I made the cake.

That is not part of the recipe.

Their responsibility is making sure I am a good cake baker by vetting my reputation with others, looking at the previous cakes I have baked, and deciding if my cake is the one they want. Then it is also their business to know the price for the cake and the terms of the sale but not the cost of all the details or how much I paid for them.

The triple layer with raspberry cream layers that blows everyones mind is more pricey than the double layer with butter cream frosting but hey anyone who is willing to pay the price can have one of my cakes.

Once they agree to my price for the cake and my terms for purchasing the cake then we have a quid pro quo.

That quid pro quo is the agreement between the cake baker and the customer- the customer does not get to come back later and say well I thought the raspberry cream version would be less because there is a sale today at the grocer on raspberries nor do they get to question my secret recipe for creating the cake.

This is my cake and my recipe and it is a free country last I checked and thus no one has to buy my cake if they do not like my terms.

I am being “transparent” ( another word about to go on “the no no list”) because I am setting the terms for buying my cakes in a clear, concise, cogent agreement with defined deliverables and am explaining why it is such a great cake for this price and how it will benefit them.

It is up the purchaser at the time of the transaction to decide if the quid pro quo is going to work.

The cake buyer also does not get to come back later and add conditions- then it is no longer a quid pro quo.

So here is the deal- it is IMPERATIVE your contract or scope of work or LOA state the what, why, and when of the terms of selling your cake.What is missing from many proposals or LOA’s to clients is the WHY.

Why do we charge a flat fee? I tell them. Why do we charge a minimum expenditure? I tell them.

Why do we charge hourly for PM? I tell them. Why is all of this the best way to approach their specific pain points? I tell them.

Why is all of the above going to result in an experience like none other? I tell them. Why are they going to love us? I tell them.

Quite frankly too many designers focus on the bullshit of making a cake and the nitty gritty about how they crack the eggs so carefully, how the butter sits out at room temp before they use it, how the cake is stirred 2500 times before baking, how under no circumstances can the customer text them when the cake is in the oven as god forbid the cake baker cannot turn off the damn phone.

The truth is most people- for sure the IDEAL people you are going to want to work for- just want to ENJOY EATING THE FREAKING CAKE.

They are buying the experience of enjoying a to die for tasty cake not just the cake itself. They are NOT buying the butter, the flour, the sugar, the vanilla, the raspberries—that is just raw pieces- the magic happens when the cake baker puts it all together.

Of course they want the cake delivered to them as promised and good ingredients to be used. Really they just want to eat the cake and enjoy every bite.

Good and successful designers focus on selling the creative vision- the cake- and how the end results-eating the cake- are going to make the client feel- happy, content, fulfilled–all of the above.

This magical experience- if you can pull it off- and have the talent– supersedes mark ups, mark downs, discounts , contracts, internet shopping, blah blah – because none of that matters when you are enjoying the experience of eating the best cake ever.

Live Passionately

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