As a design/build remodeling contractor, the design end of our business is one of the most important aspects of what we do.
Traditionally, we use design as a loss leader. So, for small projects, we’ll create a design solution at no charge. For larger, more complex projects we ask the client to enter into a Design Retainer, the fee for which will range from five to seven percent of the client’s budget and what we believe the project will cost.
Under no circumstances will we create a design for a project — free or paid — where the budget is not in keeping with the client’s wish list. It’s simply a waste of everyone’s time and resources and, more often than not, will result in ill feelings.
The free design is a selling tool that helps us convert good leads into solid sales. On the other hand, the paid design agreement, which consists of a more involved design process, provides the opportunity for us to demonstrate our value to the client and establish a good working relationship as we endeavor to create design solutions based on a clear scope of work and a well-defined budget.
When we began nearly forty years ago, we created designs on a drafting table with a mechanical ruler and a pencil. About ten years later we ventured into computer-assisted design (CAD) and have never looked back. And as is the case with all other aspects of technology, CAD has only gotten better and gives the user tools to create floor plans, elevations, and perspectives in a fraction of the time — and with greater accuracy— than ever before. And it’s only getting better!
The latest and greatest in CAD is virtual reality, which gives your clients the opportunity to “walk through” their project before a shovel of dirt is turned or the first nail is driven.
What does all this mean? Well, it’s simple. It all boils down to communication and managing expectations. The better job that we do as pros to communicate details with our clients, crew, and subs — the better chance we have of making our customer happy and maintaining a solid bottom line.
The plans are the universal communication tool that all parties rely upon on a project and the more detail the better. Consequently, the client will be clear about what they are getting, subs will know what is expected of them, and your crew won’t spend valuable time and money asking repeated questions.
Remember, it’s always easier, less disruptive and less expensive to move a wall on paper — or digitally — than it is pulled out a hammer and pry bar.
Regardless as to whether you perform in-house design or build to someone else’s plans, good design can help close jobs, improve communication, earn happier customers, and preserve your bottom line.
What could be better?