What is the best product mark-up billing model?

On April 30th at 12pm PT Julia Molloy of Molly Management Group and PORTE-COCHÈRE co-founder Ann Shriver Sargent will discuss a topic near and dear to PORTE-COCHÈRE’s mission.  Julia and Ann’s complimentary Webinar, What is the Best Product Mark-up Billing Model?, will examine how the culture of discounts hurts the interior designer’s professional growth and undermines the products’ value in the market while providing tips on the best billing practices for product procurement!


Despite all the options for clients to shop for a “deal”, knowing what product will inform the design is part of a successful job – and clients ultimately hold their designer accountable for the quality of their selections (even when the client says they will handle the buying). It is almost impossible to deliver a design to a client that does not include tapping your knowledge of product quality, cost and availability. It is for this reason that interior designers have to understand the role of procurement in their business model.

Think about your job as a performance piece – choreographer/director/producer. You have been given a score or a concept and been asked to create and direct the performance. To do this you need sensitivity to the music and the story and then you have to bring it to life using your imagination. However, it is your network of talent and your ability to direct and inspire them that makes a great show! The patron would not go to discounttalent.com and put your show on.

To pull off a great job as an interior designer you have to be creative, inspire the talent around you to do their best work and deliver and fluff as we say in the trade. Inside your firm, you and your team are the choreographer/director/producer and thus you need to pay all three of these positions appropriately.

The fee for Talent should be commensurate with the scope of the project and your experience. You and your team’s time to oversee the project might be billed on an as needed or contracted basis – offering protection to you if the client or the project has unexpected scope creep, and assurance to your client that they can control costs.

Procurement requires time – piles of paper work, hours managing logistics, receiving, repairs and returns. These hours are hard to invoice your client and when you do bill for this time you further incentivize them to try and be their own buyer. The cost of doing business in the world of product sales is best covered the same way any retailer covers them, with the margin. Selling to your client at retail is not ripping them off, they are simply paying for what they get. Having a designer should be a premium service, not a path to better living through discounts.

Part of successful design projects is being aligned with your client’s budget. When your client has a comfort zone with the cost of furnishing their property it is the design professionals job to bring in the WOW on target!


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