The Interior Design Consultation: To Charge or Not to Charge? with Sandra Funk

Episode #112 the Wingnut Social Podcast

Sandra is the founder and principal designer of House of Funk, a design firm based in NYC and New Jersey. She is an award-winning designer with over two decades of experience in the industry. Sandra is launching the Interior Design Standard in the spring of 2020—described as a template for building your business. Give this one a listen!

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [0:58] Sandra Funk joins Darla & Natalie!
  • [8:31] Sandra’s philosophy on design consultations
  • [11:26] The consultation is a way to vet the clients
  • [14:11] How to let people down softly
  • [16:21] Sandra offers online design
  • [17:36] Tips for designers who are just starting out
  • [21:36] What happens in Sandra’s consultations
  • [24:21] How does Sandra account for loss of consultation income?
  • [27:07] The Interior Design Standard launching spring 2020
  • [30:06] How easy is the program for a new design student?
  • [34:08] What up Wingnut!
  • [35:31] Connect with Sandra

Connect with Sandra Funk

Resources & People Mentioned

What does a consultation look like with Sandra Funk?

Sandra has never charged for a consultation.

Her focus is on high-end design with projects that take between 8-18 months to complete. She believes that if you charge for a consultation, you’re pressured to have a complete design proposal ready immediately. Sandra believes it diminishes the bigger project. By not charging, she can focus on getting to know potential clients.

By the time she meets a client, she’s already done the research, had conversations and is 99% sure she wants to work with them.

The goal of her consultations is to gauge communication style, responsiveness, how the clients each other, and learn the scope of the job. She does this by asking scripted questions, such as: 

What emotions do they want to feel in the space?

How do they want the space to function?

Who uses it? When is it used? How many people use it?

Do they have children? Dogs?

What, if any, rooms reflect their style?

She’s looking for someone who knows what they want, is decisive, and has the necessary budget—with no capacity or interest to execute the project themselves.

How do you say no to people who aren’t a good fit?

Sandra works with very specific high-end clientele. She sets a minimum project budget for $100,000—but her average client is renovating 3+ rooms with a $300,000 budget. The home must have a million-dollar or higher valuation. Lastly, the work needs to make logical sense for her firm. She calculates that based on overhead costs, how many clients she can handle at one time, and projected salary for the year. 

So what does Sandra do when people aren’t a good fit?

She refers them to her online design option and has had great success driving traffic to it. Her firm is still working with the client on all of the design—but none of the execution. It is a win-win for both sides and she’s not sending away unhappy prospects.

Sandra points out you must always remember that “when you say yes to the little things that don’t make sense for you, you actually close yourself off to the big things that do make sense”.

To hear her tips for new designers and about the design program she’s launching in the spring, listen to the whole episode!

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