charging for designs

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by cody, Feb 14, 2002.

  1. cody

    cody LawnSite Member
    from 6
    Messages: 20

    Do most of you guys charge for designs?On occasion I've had people really fight me on this one. I know alot of guys dont but I feel my designs are very professional and they do take alot of my time. I do know that charging really turns off some potentials and I know its not a money issue.I've lost potential $45,000 landscape jobs because they didnt like that I charged for designs.
    I didnt back down on the charging part and they never called back and it was a referal! Anyone else encounter this? I only charged $75.00 for a design and told them it would be recouped into the job if they accepted.Would love to hear about your experiences.

  2. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Messages: 1,578

    Our designs are anywhere from around $600.00 and up.

    $75.00 won't even get you a consultation . They are $100 for 2 hours...$50 per hour after the 2 hour min.
  3. mowing king

    mowing king LawnSite Member
    from ct
    Messages: 85

    A real designer who has a good rep will charge for a design. A landscape installer desperate for work usually will not.
    If people fight you on the design fee you have not built enough value into the design. Our design fee starts at $400 and up. a basic foundation planting usually doesn't need a design so you should sell that on the spot. But a $45g job needs a design plan. Many people don't understand the value of a plan and its your job to show them the value. If they don't get it, move on.
  4. Randy Scott

    Randy Scott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,915

    If they don't want to pay for a design then they are telling you that you're expertise in that area is less than nothing and worthless. YOU need to educate the customer and tell them that they are paying for your professionalism and vast knowledge in this industry. All the knowledge that is required to design a plan for them is alot to know how to do. They have no understanding of what it really takes to come up with a design. All the things you are taught in design classes that are now second nature in laying out a design, is an incredible amount of information and foresight put into that plan that they could never even dream of. If a customer hasn't been made aware of the many different aspects to a plan, and some of the things one must go through to derive at a quality landscape plan, they will not have an understanding of the value of that plan and your time. If a contractor chooses not to charge for their time, which undoubtedly will be extensive, then they are not worth having as a designer. That just shows what little effort and knowledge will be brought to the table for the customer. I do believe crediting part of the plan, should they choose to go with you, is pretty much standard practice.
    If you choose not to charge a customer, and/or they choose someone that doesn't charge for it, then that customer is most likely getting what they paid for. And you are providing them with what they paid for.
    Everybody's time and knowledge is worth something. What makes the design time versus the actual installation time worth any less.
    Honestly, $75 doesn't even come close to covering the time of meeting with the clients and discussing their ideas, or getting a plat of survey, or a house plan, or doing a site analysis.
    It's one thing to lay a couple landscape beds out for an existing house, but to do a new construction design is a whole different world.
  5. PAPS

    PAPS LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 404

    My man, you lost out on a potential $45,000 job on a stupid $75.00 design fee??? are u nuttts!!! First off, like the other guys said... if your designs are that professional, then your numbers are way off. But, if your only going to charge $75.00 for a design.. then its not worth it. Dont bother charging at all... i know its the principal and everything... but $45,000 or $75.00....
  6. Five Star Lawn Care LLC

    Five Star Lawn Care LLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,006

    I think PAPS hit the nail on the head. You people have something wrong in the head. If im the customer and im going to spend thousands of dollars with you then u better throw me in free design or im going to contract someone else.
  7. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,073


    I don't think there's anything wrong with the people who are charging design fees.

    The people who have something wrong in their heads are the ones who don't.

    If you think I'm going to go to a 'potential' job and spend my time measuring, drawing, coming up with a plant list, etc. for free, then you are nuts.

    The key point here is that the job is a 'potential'. It is not sold yet. What if you spend the time and give them a free plan and the people don't go with you......suddenly, you just lost a day's worth of time and pay.

    The problem here is that too many contractors are willing to give their time away for free. If every contractor came in and said there is a design fee, then it would be a much better world.

    I don't care how big the job is. Unless its 100% sold to begin with, I am going to ask for a check up front to get started on the plan.

    Also, another question is what is the scope of the job. Saying its a 45k job really does nothing when it comes to the design........the job could be a 40,000 dollar paver drive and 5k worth of planting.....for something like this, I may not even have a design as there is really nothing to design.

  8. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 424

    I think Steveair has hit the nail on the head. If it involves any more than sketching on a pad of paper during your sales call then there should be a design fee. Many of the guys that do a free design don't get the job and then drive by the place a couple of months later and see the job done with their design. You can't be afraid to charge for your time and skills. All this being said I think it depends on the type of client you are trying to get. A lot of 45K jobs are done for cheap and not really caring clients that are trying to get the most for the least and do not appreaciate the time and care that go into a carefully planned landscape.
  9. JML

    JML LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 415

    In my area, Central N.J. people will laugh in your face and ask you to leave if attempt to charge them for a design. Everyone in my area does free designs, so we are forced to do the same just to keep competitive..
  10. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    We don't charge to create the design, but we do charge them if they want to keep the design. We give the estimate/proposal to them either way, free of charge.

    Any money paid toward the design is then credited toward the price of the project, should they contract with us.

    And we make exceptions to those rules, like if it's a quickie design that took 15 minutes, or if it's a customer that has given us business in the past.

    But I agree with others, that if the project price is getting up there, like $45K, you have to charge for the design in advance. Too much time goes into a plan like that to create it without having some sort of minimum remuneration for it. But it's got to be $300 or more.

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