How to handle consumer sticker shock

(This story was originally published on and has been edited for clarity and style.)

Homeowners can be very surprised at the cost of a large-scale renovation or design project. They aren’t trying to be cheap and unrealistic, they’re not used to shopping for quality furniture and materials the way you are.

Interior design business consultant, Chelsea Coryell, presents these tips for how to address clients who have sticker shock at the cost of renovation to keep them moving forward with the project.

Qualify your client

Before meeting with the client, it’s critical to take the time to determine if they are willing and ready to invest in the project. Ask about the client’s budget and reasons for taking on the project on the phone or on a website form to gauge their interest.

Be upfront about your costs

Overcome the touchy subject of money by discussing the costs of the project from day one. Before you select a single item, you need to establish a project budget. If a client does not supply a budget for you, share the costs of other projects in your portfolio and confirm if that is in line for the client.

On your Houzz profile, you can list your project cost range which can proactively inform potential clients about what they need to prepare to invest to work with you.

Don’t lower your prices

As soon as you start lowering your price, you will have created a slippery slope from which you will never get free. You know if your rates are fair for your service. If a client has sticker shock or budget concerns, you could offer to postpone the project until they have finances arranged or reduce the scope to prioritize the main concerns.

Educate about value

Sticker shock arises when clients have misaligned expectations of cost, so you can combat it by adding value. Show them how you can help them achieve their vision for their home and how the quality of any specified items is superior to other items at a lower price point.

Make comparisons

If a client is unfamiliar with the differences in quality between products, he may gravitate to the lower-priced option thinking the products are equal. Drawing comparisons to other products, such as cars or clothing brands, can help clients associate the tiers of quality or value.

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