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I’ve found the best and most profitable approach for an interior’s only operation is to establish relationships with interior designers. The bulk of my work over the years has been for interior design firms, the work commanding top dollar, never having to bid projects against other painters, and never having to look for work.

The only drawback is, it sometimes requires traveling.
How do you deal with the 'quid pro quo' from designers?

I worked with a designer who wanted 20% and said to just add it to the quotes. Eventually she said to me that the customers were complaining about my prices being too high...I wonder why?....hmmm

She also wanted me to price touch-ups into the proposal and I said no. If I had to build that into the quote as well as the extortion fee, my prices would be much too high.

I had a meeting once with a large designer firm and won them over. The bad side is they wanted 25% commission. That's worst than Yelp and others. I agree that the clientele are higher end but money seems to spoil everything when you get a 3rd party involved.
 

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Years ago I made the mistake, and I do mean mistake,of calling a designer a decorator. :icon_cry:
I could see that being a fatal error which not even a reboot could fix.

I have on one occasion intentionally called an interior designer an inferior desecrater in a heated exchange, the ultimate insult to the egotistical pr..k he was, although we still ended up working together for many years after.
 

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How do you deal with the 'quid pro quo' from designers?

I worked with a designer who wanted 20% and said to just add it to the quotes. Eventually she said to me that the customers were complaining about my prices being too high...I wonder why?....hmmm

She also wanted me to price touch-ups into the proposal and I said no. If I had to build that into the quote as well as the extortion fee, my prices would be much too high.

I had a meeting once with a large designer firm and won them over. The bad side is they wanted 25% commission. That's worst than Yelp and others. I agree that the clientele are higher end but money seems to spoil everything when you get a 3rd party involved.
I don’t. All the interior design and architectural firms I’ve worked with receive invoicing from me and mark-up the services accordingly, their mark-up % being invoiced to and paid by the HOs. I don’t consider a designer requesting a painter kicking back 25% to be a good business practice on their behalf. I’ve never provided finder’s fees or commissions to designers. Usually the projects are budgeted well in advance with monies being placed in escrow, the HOs having a good idea of what they’re in for. The clients are usually pretty good with signing off on change orders if there should be any unforeseen extras.
 

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In my area, there isn't an over abundance of designers. When designers have been involved in my projects I've been fortunate to have the relationship be between the HO and designer in most cases. I've never worked for the design firm. I have worked directly with designers, and really prefered to have the HO as a buffer. I'd have a hard time giving up anything over 10% as a commission. Although I do realize in larger metro markets designers rule the higher end work, and the money is such that a commission of over 10% would be easier to stomach.
 

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Never worked directly with a designer. Customers have occasionally hired them but I was simply given a list of the colors and areas to apply them. No big deal having them involved in that way.
The one PITA designer job I was involved in was a kitchen with heavily textured walls and the designer specified a metallic copper paint for it. Of course she had supplied them with a photograph (very likely touched up) showing it in a room with smooth walls so it looked flawless. I talked them out of it.
 

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One advantage when working with designers is the press and media coverage. Got a lot of free publicity over the years by having works published in Elle Decor, AD, Bravo TV’s Top Design final episode, as well as others, the designers often providing credit for the work in the publications’ resource sections. Work just seemed to snowball from there.
 

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One advantage when working with designers is the press and media coverage. Got a lot of free publicity over the years by having works published in Elle Decor, AD, Bravo TV’s Top Design final episode, as well as others, the designers often providing credit for the work in the publications’ resource sections. Work just seemed to snowball from there.
Yeah, that's a totally different level than any designer I ever worked with!:biggrin:
 

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The one PITA designer job I was involved in was a kitchen with heavily textured walls and the designer specified a metallic copper paint for it. Of course she had supplied them with a photograph (very likely touched up) showing it in a room with smooth walls so it looked flawless. I talked them out of it.
I had a similar experience, only the HO went with the designers plan....beige ceilings throughout the entire first floor and foyer. New construction, so made things a bit easier when we had to repaint them. I even did just one room and let the HO see it. She OKd the color for the entire first floor. Spent the next day masking the ceiling wall interface with 12" kraft and spraying the ceilings, including the 20' foyer. A fair sized house, about 8,000 sf. At the end of the day, just as we were tearing the last of the kraft down, the HO came in and burst into tears.

Next day, same thing as the day before, only Linen White. Of course we got paid to repaint the ceilings, but I never like losing a day on the schedule on a new construction job! I really felt like calling that designer a decorator!
 

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Yeah, that's a totally different level than any designer I ever worked with!:biggrin:
Earlier in my career I was working with interior design hall of famer Joe D’Urso. I had spent 18 months meticulously hand finishing miles of Honduras Mahogany which is no longer exportable. I think it was Better Homes & Gardens that did a cover spread on the home with detailed coverage of the finishing work, also providing an in-text credit for the finishing, yet mis-credited the hardwood flooring installation company for doing the work that I had toiled over for 18 months.

After the magazine came out which I to this day never even looked at, I got a call from the builder telling me about the mistake. He told me that the floor installation company had been bombarded with telephone inquiries about the project, generating a ton of business from the article, requesting my finishing techniques yet not passing along the requests to me.

Every time I go to their supply house I look at the plaque in their reception area, the plaque being awarded to them by the magazine for the work I did. I always break their chops over it. It kinda pisses me off that they took credit for my work, requested my techniques, yet wouldn’t pass the inquiries along.

In the following link the home is the second one down with the observatory, having done all but the 4th & 5th homes pictured.

https://www.google.com/amp/m.interi...-jr-dishes-on-the-design-vision-of-joe-nahem/
 

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no quid pro quo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Fman, you should come hang out at the politics sub on Reddit. Bet you can’t guess who I am over there. Also, snarkiness is welcomed.

As far as designers- they deserve every penny. After all, they brought you in on the job, huh?
 

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Fman, you should come hang out at the politics sub on Reddit. Bet you can’t guess who I am over there. Also, snarkiness is welcomed.

As far as designers- they deserve every penny. After all, they brought you in on the job, huh?
FULL DISCLOSURE: I've never even seen Reddit.
 

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How do you deal with the 'quid pro quo' from designers?

I worked with a designer who wanted 20% and said to just add it to the quotes. Eventually she said to me that the customers were complaining about my prices being too high...I wonder why?....hmmm

She also wanted me to price touch-ups into the proposal and I said no. If I had to build that into the quote as well as the extortion fee, my prices would be much too high.

I had a meeting once with a large designer firm and won them over. The bad side is they wanted 25% commission. That's worst than Yelp and others. I agree that the clientele are higher end but money seems to spoil everything when you get a 3rd party involved.
I just had a potential designer client try to get me to do that. This is wallpaper, not paint mind you, though. Her words were along the lines of "I normally work by referral fees and have the client pay you directly. Do you offer a referral fee? How do you work that?"

I replied, "All my designer clients either pay me themselves and add their 20% fee to the client, like a contractor, or they add their 20% fee to their desinger fee and have the client cut me a check, but the price I state is what I expect to take home, no matter who pays me and in not going to complicate my accounting, but overbidding, then cutting you a check.." I just heard "Ok." Who knows if I'll hear from her again....

This lady found me from either google, or thumbtack, and as far as Im concerned, I already paid THEM for a referral fee.
 

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This past exterior season kicked my a$$. Some of it had to do with having to fire my employee mid season. At the end of the day I often just wanted to collapse. Sometimes I was ready to call it a day after only 5 hours of work.

I already have about 4 exteriors lined up for next year, but I am seriously considering telling any other potential customers that call me with exterior work no thank you or at the very least avoid any house that require more than a 20 foot ladder.

So, wondering how others have transitioned to interior only. I make a lot of money with the exterior work and right now I doubt that interior only would allow me to do as well financially.

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You sure you paying them well? 30hr is the going rate around here. That's 60k yr. That what the top companies pay to get all the best guys.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 · (Edited)
You sure you paying them well? 30hr is the going rate around here. That's 60k yr. That what the top companies pay to get all the best guys.
I paid semi-skilled $25, and unskilled $20. Your point also is part of my issue with exterior work. I have no desire to have a crew and hustle to keep them busy all year long, which is what I would need to do if I wanted to keep a couple guys busy all year long and be able to pay them more.

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I paid semi-skilled $25, and unskilled $20. Your point also is part of my issue with exterior work. I have no desire to have a crew and hustle to keep them busy all year long, which is what I would need to do if I wanted to keep a couple guys busy all year long and be able to pay them more.

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Which is fine but your income will be limited and you'll always struggle to find help which is a bigger nightmare than the hustle of keeping a team busy year round.
 

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I have always specialized in interiors. I also had an arrangement with a great exterior guy. He referred interiors to me, I sent exteriors to him. If HO wanted both, we worked together as though we were one company. In the big city, most of the work was interior anyway. Condo high rises were a huge part of my business and I could wack those off so fast it felt like stealing money! Only about 20% of my clients were house owners. Since moving to a smaller city I have been forced to agree to some exterior work and given my fastidious nature, it tends not to be as profitable and is not really an area I would call myself expert in because I've done so little of it. I always go with what I consider "best practice" which often is more than HO wanted to spend.

I dreaded interior designers and decorators! To often they were clueless and demanded things that could not be done or required considerable research on my part. They were never available to ask about materials they had in mind or how they thought impossible requests could/should be done. It was always, all on me!

On one job I ended up varnishing a faux finish with artists water color varnish ($200 a gallon 35 years ago!), I had been instructed to put on a protective varnish that would not in anyway change the nature of an absolutely flat finish. The Decorator was not available to talk to until all work was finished so I could not ask what product she had in mind. I just came up with artist's water color varnish as the only thing that could possibly work. That was also when I learned rich folks don't give a hoot about the price. HO said "It is what it is, get it!"
 
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