As a newbie interior designer, you likely devote a good portion of your time looking for clients. So each time someone shows an interest in your services, you will want to wow them with an irresistible proposal. But how exactly do you make one?
Whether you’re new in the business or you’re trying to improve your current practices for writing interior design project proposals, here are tips that can come in handy:
Master Your Business and Services
Before you begin creating a proposal, make sure you have defined your services beforehand, their scope and, of course, your charges. Without any of these, you will not be able to make a realistic, worthwhile proposal, let alone a tempting one.
Know Your Potential Client
Your goal should be to create a proposal that your potential client can’t refuse. For this to happen, you first need to know as many relevant things about them as possible – their aesthetic, their lifestyle, and, for commercial projects, their business. Obviously, you can’t satisfy them with your work unless you know what satisfies them in the first place. The idea is to know what’s important to them, their wants and needs, and everything that will clue you in on the results they’re looking for.
Again, for commercial clients, take advantage of the Internet in looking for information. You may even impress your potential client when they learn that you’ve done your homework. Also, maximize your meeting by avoiding questions or subjects that have already been covered on their website or social channels.
Speaking of questions, you do need to ask them – plenty of them – so you can make a comprehensive and well-targeted proposal. For example, what are your expectations? Do you have any specific ideas that you want to incorporate in the design? What is your goal or goals for embarking on this project?
If you’re dealing with a company or business, ask them more or less the same things – what are your goals and expectations, do you have any particular design elements that you want to add, what do you hope to achieve after this project, and so on.
Certainly, you should find out when they want to start the project when they want it done, and how much they plan to spend on the job. This part is particularly helpful when you want to know where your potential client is in the planning process. Perhaps they already have an idea about what they want to do with the design, or maybe they’re totally starting from ground zero. How much detail they provide can necessitate more questions from you, or you may want them to go back and clarify a few things.
Sometimes, the answers they provide will lead to more questions, and you shouldn’t hesitate to ask those. You may learn more than what you had hoped to – for example, maybe they have friends or relatives who may also need your help.
Provide All Critical Details in Your Proposal
As soon as you have all the important information for the project, you can begin drawing up your proposal. The secret is to provide all the details the potential client needs to make a decision. This can be as simple as putting your name and contact information on the document.
Very importantly, summarize the coverage of your proposed work, and make it as simple as possible. No need for fancy words. In fact, the more straightforward you are in explaining what you plan to do and when the better for both sides.
Make sure you also add a timeline with milestones showing the key steps you have to take to complete the job. Your project may have several minor milestones, but to keep things easy for you and the other party, add only those that are most important to them.
Be Clear About the Fees
Obviously, you need to include the fees for your services, along with the payment terms and schedule. Be sure to indicate the total price and a breakdown of the costs if suitable. Let’s say you’re charging $5000 for your services. You should clearly state that the cost of furniture and accessories is not included. If you and the client agreed that you will be paid a fixed rate, there is no need to break down the fees. If you’re charging a per-hour-fee, you can make a list of each major part of the project alongside the time required for you to complete it. And, if you require an upfront fee before the start of the project, which is the common practice, include it in your proposal. Also add a provision that says the balance should be paid as soon as the job is completed.
As expected, how much those fees will be and the payment terms to be followed will be your decision to make. And if you have any specific terms that you want to include, go right ahead. For example, if you want furniture and accessory purchases to be paid with credit, say so.
Also be specific about what happens when certain things do not turn out as agreed, such as the project dragging well beyond the deadline. Before finalizing your proposal, look into special terms that you might be able to use.
By the end of the proposal, give your potential client a crystal clear idea of what you want to do. You can ask for their signature electronically too if necessary. If you want them to sign only on the contract itself, tell them they can reply to your email with a small note saying that your proposal has been approved.
Fine-tune Your Proposals Through Time
Lastly, no matter the details involved with the project, make it a point to get feedback from the client. Make a template based on your first successful proposal and simply personalize it according to the next client’s project specifications.
In the end, you may feel like writing an interior design proposal is so daunting, especially if you’re a newbie. But as long as you spend time doing your research early on, you can come up with something well thought-out and which highlights your talents, skills and experience.
If you’re new in the trade, it shouldn’t be a problem either as long as you’re fully transparent about it. You can still win clients as long as you have an attractive proposal, can explain it well, and show professionalism in every way. We all have to start somewhere.