The Design World Hot Topic: Free Design Consultations [Sandra Funk Replay]

Episode #202 the Wingnut Social Podcast

Do you charge for a design consultation? Or do you offer it free-of-cost? Does a free consultation go against everything you believe in? This widely-debated highly-controversial topic is THE topic of conversation of late, which is why Darla chose to replay this amazing episode with Sandra Funk. 

Sandra has been in business for 20+ years. In those 20 years, Sandra has NEVER charged for design consultations. Darla and Natalie stopped charging for consultations as a beta-test—and decided to stick with it. Listen to this episode of Wingnut Social to find out why!

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [1:41] Sandra’s FREE design consultations
  • [7:00] The consultation is for vetting clients
  • [9:45] The wise way to choose a project
  • [11:42] Why Sandra offers online design
  • [13:16] Tips for designers who are just starting out
  • [17:27] What Sandra’s design consultation looks like
  • [20:30] How does Sandra account for loss of consultation income?
  • [23:00] The Interior Design Standard program
  • [26:08] How easy is the program for a new design student?
  • [29:59] What up Wingnut! round
  • [31:23] How to connect with Sandra Funk

Connect with Sandra Funk

Resources & People Mentioned

Tips for designers who are just starting out

Sandra’s typical project takes between 8–18 months to complete. She includes full drawings and a timeline of the scope and scale of the job in the consultation. But if she is already giving design suggestions at that first meeting, it’s telling the client she already has the whole design in her head. Offering ideas in 90-minutes diminishes the entire project. Sandra prefers to carefully craft a design that will unfold over the course of the project. She will come up with something incredible for them—and it won’t be designed in just one hour in their home. 

But how do you decide what to charge if you’re just starting out? In her Interior Design Standard program, Sandra offers a wealth manifestation spreadsheet (AKA a budget). It starts by helping you identify your overhead like rent, staff, and utilities. Then you offset it with what you want to make for the year. It allows you to see where your sales need to be to make your business succeed. You can play around with your margins, but this is a great starting point. Sandra’s overhead dictates that she has to take on projects in homes over $1 million with projects at least $100,000 in scope.

She emphasizes that everyone else will be different depending on your region, price point, overhead, etc. It is important to only say yes to the clients that fit your ideal client avatar. They need to be a fit for you. Sandra notes that “It’s not about ‘Can they afford it’, it’s about what makes sense.” How does Sandra account for loss of consultation income? Listen to hear her solution! 

The Interior Design Standard program

Sandra brought her finance degree and 20 years of experience to the table when she created this program. She sought to set the standard for the interior design industry. It lays out a great business model to be profitable and efficient. It also includes systems, scripts, and everything she uses to run her business. It’s one of the most comprehensive programs Darla has ever seen. It’s perfect for baby designers as well as seasoned experts. 

The program is intended to be the backbone of your business. It can be everything you need to run an interior design business but it is scaled to you. There’s not a single thing you need to do in the process that doesn’t have a task assigned to it. Learn more about free design consultations and Sandra’s Interior Design Standard by listening to the whole episode! 

Disclaimer: Darla has switched to a FREE design consultation at Darla Powell Interiors. Miami is a different beast and free consultations led to more bookings. The bottom line? Do what works for you and your business!

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