kbb Birmingham 2020: Key to charging design fees is ‘confidence in own abilities’

Designers need to stick by their skills and have the confidence to charge design fees, according to a panel of experts at kbb Birmingham 2020.

Speaking on the Kitchen & Bathroom Design Podcast, recorded live at the show, Hayley Robson (pictured second left), creative director of Day True, said the issue begins with the infrequency of the consumer’s interaction with the sector.

“People don’t get a new kitchen or bathroom very often so the process is an unknown and they don’t know how it all works. In this industry there’s a huge variation in what you can get from different people, and that inconsistency is where it’s difficult.

“But we only employ design-educated staff and they’re professional in what they do, so there has to be a level of valued attached to that professionalism. If someone has done a two-week CAD course and they want to charge £1,000 design fee then I wouldn’t pay it, but if someone’s given me a professional service based on knowledge and experience then there’s a real value to that.”

Diane Berry (pictured far right), from Diane Berry Kitchens in Manchester, said that all design should carry a fee.

“Ikea and John Lewis charge, if they’re charging, everybody should be charging,” she said. “Maybe they haven’t got the confidence to charge what I do, but it’s still something worth charging for.

“I reckon it costs about £500 to get each customer through the door – bills, marketing, PR, advertising cost etc – so when they’re there you want an honest and open relationship with them and if you’re offering a great service that adds value.”

Robson said that designers must have the confidence to stick by the value they are attributing to their work.

“I think fundamentally people value good work, those that are happy to pay it understand that and I’ve had clients who wouldn’t dream of not paying it,” she said.

“To those that sit there and say that ‘the others down the road don’t charge’ we just say ‘go down the road then’ because they’ll get something totally different. As long as you value, and give, a level of service and quality you should stick by it.”

Richard Hibbert, KSL Sudbury and KBSA chair, said that a solution to this issue can only come from legitimising the profession of kitchen or bathroom designer.

“Education within our industry is the key,” he said. “If you look at architects, they all charge and don’t do anything for nothing, but they have a defined CPD (continuous professional development) structure, there’s a lot of education there but that’s really difficult in our industry where there’s very little.”

To listen to the full podcast go to podcast.kbbreview.com or search ‘kitchen and bathroom design’ in your podcast app.

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