5 Tips to Establish a No-Negotiation Policy for Your Design Fees

1. Never Negotiate Your Prices under any Circumstances
Negotiating makes the client think that you're overcharging for your services. Let potential clients know that your rates are honest and fair for the level of service that you provide which is why you don't negotiate them. Have a firm policy of not negotiating and stick to it.

2. Establish a Value Mindset
It’s a “value-for-value” relationship.
Jesse Nirenberg wrote the following  in his book How To Sell Your Ideas:
[Y]ou have to sell the fairness of all your offers … If you don’t justify them, it seems as though your guiding principle is to get the most for the least. Giving this impression hurts the relationship. For it means that you’re willing to deprive the other person of what he should have… If you finally accept much less than your initial request, the other person is likely to think that you’re trying to get much more than is reasonable.

Compromising Your Fee is Compromising Yourself. Corporate recruiter Jeff Allen uses this quote quite frequently.  He says that comprimising your fees is like telling the client, “I really don’t believe my services are worth what I charge.”

3. Decide That You're Worth It
If potential clients can't afford to pay more for quality services,  they shouldn't come to you. You are worth every penny you charge. If you don't believe this who will? 

4. Believe That Your Fee is Fair
Stephen Gillers says it best in his book  I’d Rather Do It Myself, written as a guide for attorneys:

The belief in the value of what you’re selling must be yours . . . If you know it, so will the client. If you don’t, most of your clients will eventually know that too. If you lose the client because you want to get paid, you’re better off in the long run. This will be as true in your tenth year as it is in your first week. You sell time and, despite your willingness to work hard and sleep on your desk, there is a finite quantity of time available for sale… [This is] the only time … when your interests and the client’s interests will conflict.


5. Don't Be Defensive
Simply state that your policy is your policy. Potential clients will repect you for it. In the long they'll be touting that you were worth an arm and a leg but worth every penny!

By IDRA: The Interior Design Resource Agency
Photography by Dana Bartekoske Heinemann



  1. Very good tips any budding interior designer should live by. In some professions, it just pays off to have a bit of a hardline stance.

  2. Great article here! Way to address these issues, they are critical. I am speaking from experience when I tell you:

    1.) Have a signed/dated industry contract that protects your interests and is still fair to the client (of course). Include what happens, and who pays the costs, if they decide to not pay you and further action is necessary.

    2.) Do your part.

    3.) Document everything, keep records proving you did #2, in case #1 comes into play. If you can't prove it, it didn't happen. Think e-mail.

    4.) Don't extend too much credit. The more you provide without payment/retainer, the more they can potentially stiff you on later.

    There are many grey areas in interior design. You've either had problems getting paid, or you will have problems getting paid one day. Think about it now and save thousands of dollars, dozens of hours, and many many headaches.

    There is nothing wrong with expecting payment for services. Fact is, you just never know who your dealing with. You can still be professional, and friendly, but you can't afford not to be SMART :)

  3. There are a lot of grey areas in interior design. You've got both had problems getting paid, or you'll have issues getting paid one day. Feel about it now and keep hundreds of thousands of greenbacks, dozens of hours, and plenty of many headaches.Resume & CV Templates

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