Four Tips for Discussing Budget With Home Improvement Clients

Talking to Clients About The Cost Of A Project Does Not Have To Be Akward

Talking about money with clients can be a sticky subject, but it’s important to have this discussion early to make sure you can complete the proposed project on time and on budget. Being confident about your pricing and process shows you’re a seasoned professional and you’re not afraid to have the tough conversations up front. The budget discussion is an essential one to determine whether or not the person matches your ideal client profile.

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Here are five tips from industry professionals.

1. Discuss Using Actual Numbers

Coming to the table with actual numbers from past projects can help you ease into the conversation. Showing anonymized past contracts can reassure your potential clients that they are getting a fair deal while giving you something concrete to refer to when crunching numbers.

When prospective customers bring a photo of one of his projects, Christopher Awadalla of Sanctuary Kitchen and Bath Design in Denver makes sure to show a copy of the contract from that exact project showing the actual cost. “I walk through the different materials and fees and discuss their own project versus the one in the picture,” he says. “Our customers appreciate that we share information that is ‘real,’ and it sets budget expectations at a realistic level from the very beginning.”

2. Give a Quote and Be Flexible

Many professionals are worried they might scare interested homeowners away by giving a quote that’s too high. However, Agnese Purvinska of Aggie Designs in Brooklyn, New York, recommends giving your quote and using it as a jumping-off point for additional discussions.

“Usually my estimate is at least 50 percent higher than what they thought it would be,” Purvinska says. “When they tell me their budget, I adjust the scope to fit their budget. This way I am not out of a job, and they are getting a good value for their budget.”

3. Understand What Works for You

Finding what works for you and sticking to it can be a great way to streamline budget discussions. Telling potential customers up front how you prefer to handle project pricing will ensure that you’re both on the same page from the beginning.

“I charge on an hourly basis, and though I am asked regularly if I will consider working for a flat rate, I have decided what works best and don’t falter on it,” says Jodie Rosen of Jodie Rosen Design in Toronto. “When I change the way I charge, it never goes well, for them or for me — it’s not worth it! Not making exceptions to the way I charge for my services eliminates any problems that could come up during the process — nothing is ‘gray.’”

4. Offer a Range

Offering clients estimates of the high and low ends of the budget spectrum gives them a general idea how much they should budget without tying you to an exact price.

“We present a budget range for the project immediately after our first meeting,” says Neal J.Z. Schwartz of Schwartz and Architecture in San Francisco. “This method gives the client a good idea of costs before the client puts in a lot of time and energy toward building their dream or we invest time in working up estimates. It also injects a potentially needed dose of reality into the equation early on.”

What budget discussion tips do you have? Let us know in the Comments section below.

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This story was written by the Houzz Industry Marketing team

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