DESIGN SHADOW: PROPOSALS & CONTRACTS

This week has been an exciting week for me. I was able to pick up two more projects! What is more important is that they are two new clients; corporations/entities that we haven’t worked with before. It has been a long time in the making – building relationships and doing good work on past projects. The President of our company always says, “The best marketing for new projects is doing good – the best you can – today, on your current project.” This week was proof of that, because both were referrals. On top of these two new clients, we are starting to get work for the year from an existing client.

So today I worked on contracts, or really the proposals and fees for the contracts. To make sure we are creating the right fees that provide enough hours to complete the work, I took time reviewing other projects of similar type and scope of work. Beyond just printing the stats of other projects I met with accounting to review where some of these projects are “on the books;” meaning, are we losing, making or breaking even with the fees agreed upon in our contracts.  The question on all projects, is “are we going to be profitable?” Because believe it or not – not all projects are. Sometimes projects are taken on to build relationships for future projects down the road; what we call a “loss leader.” Sometimes projects head in a different direction than you were planning on, and more work is required to complete the job than budgeted to do so. Profitability can be a hard balance for many designers. Loss on one end of the perspective – and over charging for your services on the opposite end. The balance can be hard for many designers. Most of us are in this because we love what we do – being creative for a living. But in the end, we are running a business, and it takes understanding, experience and research to contract the right fees so we are making enough to stay ahead (at least slightly more than breaking even), and not over charging and underwhelming our clients. For me that balance means I get to do what I love to do for years to come with some of the best clients that keep coming back or refer me to another, because they trust me.

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