Design Charges?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by TurfdudeNCSU, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. TurfdudeNCSU

    TurfdudeNCSU LawnSite Member
    Messages: 76

    Just curious to see how many of you guys charge for designs... or if you do designs for the customer in order to get the j-o-b. Reason I ask.. got some lip today from a customer that requested a design on a new construction house and after we presented the estimate he said he could afford to install the landscaping right now. Two weeks later I call him today and he says he is getting another guy to install the irrigation system for a third of what I was going to do it for. I ask him once he told me that where he wanted his bill for the design to go to. He about craped a brick when I told him $480. We usually include it in the package if we get the job, but if we don't then we charge $85 an hour design time for it. (I have a full time designer on staff and I have to pay her salary too!!) So anyways I told him that I would work with him on the fee if he would allow us to install in phases. Front now and back later. What do you guys think?
  2. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    Charge them by the hour, but free w/ installation. Sounds like you did the right thing to me.
  3. salandscape

    salandscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 168

    You just need to let them know that upfront, if it isn't mentioned they think it is a "Free estimate". I would just in the future let them know I have afull time designer on staff and we charge X per hour or per design, it is free if we do the job. Avoid the conflict upfront if possible
  4. nlminc

    nlminc LawnSite Bronze Member
    from GA
    Messages: 1,671

    Good question! I was wondering what people here do in the situation with presenting designs. I've been subing this out for the past couple of years, but have not been happy with the designs. I bought Pro-landscape last month and have started to learn the program. I know how to design, but the time to draw is just something I can never find the time for.

    Anyway! I've heard of people charging from $150 - 400 for a design and $65.00 thru 85.00 for consultation.

    Did you leave this design with the customer without being paid for it? Did he know the ball park cost of the design up front? I would not leave a design with a customer without being paid for the cost of the design. You should offer to deduct the amount from the overall cost of the job in the end.

    I find a lot of people call and want someone to come over and spend hours with them giving out "ideas" for their property. Most "drop a brick" when you tell them there's a charge for this service! Can't believe people also expect a free design from us!

    Question for all of you designers out there........Do you get the cost of the design up front or when the customer sees the final plan and gives a yes or no on the install. I would believe it would be hard to collect after you've spent your time on the design and the customer say's they don't care for the design. Would like to hear what your experiences have been.
  5. TurfdudeNCSU

    TurfdudeNCSU LawnSite Member
    Messages: 76

  6. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    For me, the design is separate from the install, and I have a very detailed contract for design portion. I spell out that I provide them with a master plan based on the info they give me and my recommendations as a designer, and that payment is due upon presentation of the plan. Hasn't been a problem yet, even with the ones who couldn't afford to implement what they told me they wanted. That's for a design fee ranging from $1000-1500, so I would say it's all about making sure everyone has the exact same expectations going in.
  7. nlminc

    nlminc LawnSite Bronze Member
    from GA
    Messages: 1,671

    Wow! $1000-1500 for the design fee.........more power to you! Do you do any in the - $500.00 range? Could you give me an idea of how your contract for the design layed out?
  8. wysiwyg420

    wysiwyg420 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    We're around 12-1500 for a design. All depends on scope and property.
    When clients say "well this guy will give me a free design", I say go for it. Free advice is worth every penny you paid for it! Do you want a sales pitch for an install or a design?
    We've billed up to $5500 on a design, no prob. $75 just to come out unless a referral. If they're too cheap for $75 that's applied towards work, then they're too cheap to work with us. Got to weed out the crap and not waste your time w/ free this and that.
    If I get the feeling we're going to get shopped or they say they wand a "bid" or getting estimates, I give 'em just enough info. A proposal and a bottom line price so they can't pick it apart.
    I'd forget about waiving fee if working in phases. Who's to say this guy want just get someone else to do 2nd phase. I'd say put up or shut up, show me the $.
    Get a deposit on dn up front - give a timetable, balance due at final presentation, Lay the invoice right on top of the plan.
    Design and Install are separate jobs. How many architects design buildings for free? You think I could call up 5 architects or builders and say I want to build a house, how 'bout a free design? I'll use you if I like your ideas.
    Your time is valuable and your knowledge and expertise was not free to you. Why should it be free to everyone else? Raise the bar!
  9. Turfdoctor1

    Turfdoctor1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 707

    i don't know how you can charge somebody for design and not tell them up front. I don't do landscaping or irrigation, but it seems to me like the design should be part of your estimate. if you don't get the job, you don't get the job. So, if you are paying a designer, and that is jacking up your estimates, I would side with the customer.
  10. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    I totally agree. If you see that it's more involved than something you can sketch on a napkin and sell and you'll be investing design time for which you expect to be compensated, the client has to know that up front. While it's understandable (and they made us do it where I used to work), it just comes across as b**chy to present a job, not get the sale, and be all "hey, I either need you to hand me that design back or give me a check for $500."

    Letting the client know up front that there's a design fee also really lets you know who's serious and who's kicking tires, and it allows you to stand out for saying "look, I could throw some numbers at this and maybe be close, but if you pay for a design I can give you an accurate price AND a quality design." I won't do a job without a design, and I won't do a design without getting paid. You can rebate the design fee if you get the install, but in the end someone is paying for the designer's time (or yours). May as well be the client.

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