Archive for 14 July 2008

Commitment Pricing

We’ve all been there…trying to determine how to price your services often seems to be the biggest struggle i our business. Charge too much and you’re afraid you’ll lose clients. Charge too little and you can’t earn a living.

But take another look at those statements. Charging “enough” to make a living doesn’t really seem like very satisfying goal. Instead of just looking at your costs, your competition, etc. why not look at your clients. How much should you be charging to get committed, sing-your-praises clients AND to deliver the level of service, training and expertise they deserve?

Being in business costs money, and the costs keep going up every day. When you charge less than you need in order for your business to thrive; you’re not just short-changing yourself financially, you’re depriving your clients of the full experience, benefit and range of services they should be getting from you. You’re not committing fully to them, in terms of what you’re willing to offer, because you can’t afford to do what you’d really like to do for your clients. 

Commitment Pricing is especially important for designers because this business is not based on need or necessity. It’s not commodity selling, because commodities—something that is widely available and has little or no distinguishing characteristics—is what design is emphatically NOT!

Any consumer, when willing to invest in something customized, something unique and distinctive, usually recognizes that the higher price for such products and services carries with it a commitment on both sides. For the seller to deliver, service and respect the investment of the buyer; and for the buyer to appreciate, value and respect the seller.

Think about some of your recent purchasing decisions: Are there any examples of commitment pricing you can identify and apply to your own business?

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14 July 2008 at 4:44 pm Leave a comment

Mario, oh Mario!

When I first became involved in the interior design business, waaaaay back in the ’80s, the first decorator whose name and look I became familiar with was Mario Buatta. Back then, you couldn’t open a magazine without seeing at least one of Buatta’s lavishly embellished and chintz swathed rooms. Paige Rense, the long-time editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest says of Buatta: “He was the ’80s alpha decorator. He was warm and democratic…teasing billionaires and making his clients feel comfortable…”

Buatta has had his own design business for 45 years and the 72-year-old decorator shows no signs of slowing down. Although his signature look, an Americanized “English Country House” feel inspired by Colefax & Fowler, has swung in and out of fashion, Buatta has always had his devotees. Even in the modern/minimalist ’90s Buatta worked 5-6 days a week on the homes of Billy Joel, Mariah Carey, and dozens of other less recognizable but equally enthralled clients.

Last year, 34 years after doing his first room at the Kips Bay Showcase House; he was back with yet another elegantly pretty and welcoming installation. Perhaps some may find his look a bit over the top; a bit to grandmama-y and traditional, but at a time when maximalist designers like Kelly Wearstler, Jamie Drake, Miles Redd and others garner accolades, it’s worth studying one of the living, working masters of the form. And, just like his mentor and inspiration, John Fowler, Mario Buatta loves a well-dressed window! Enjoy!

One of Buatta’s most recent projects is a two-bedroom Fifth Ave. apartment for Patricia Altschul, an apartment that had previously belonged to Sister Parish. “Though the Parish provenance was a draw, they couldn’t sell the apartment, and I understood why,” Altschul recalls. “In the 15 years since she’d lived here, the place had become dirty, dingy, disgusting. The structure was sound, but the windows, electric, air-conditioning, kitchen and bath all had to be redone. I thought twice about buying it…”

“But when you let Mario have his head, unleash his quirkiness, fabulous things happen.”

 

Altschul Living Room

Altschul Living Room

And here…

 

Altschul bathroom. Both photos by Scott Francis, originally published in Architectural Digest, February 2008.

Altschul bathroom. Both photos by Scott Francis, originally published in Architectural Digest, February 2008.

And how about some of these highlights from Buatta’s Kips Bay Showcase houses over the years.

 

One of his most famous Kips Bay installations is this fabulous blue bedroom from 1987.

One of his most famous Kips Bay installations is this fabulous blue bedroom from 1987.

 

 

This is his “homage to dogs” sitting room at the 2006 Kips Bay Showcase House.

This is his “homage to dogs” sitting room at the 2006 Kips Bay Showcase House.

And I’ll leave you with some additional classic Mario Buatta rooms.

 

A Houston bedroom

A Houston bedroom

 

 

Love the dramatic contrast between the dark, glossy walls and the light, feminine furnishings.

Love the dramatic contrast between the dark, glossy walls and the light, feminine furnishings.

 

 

Not all of Buatta’s rooms are chintz everywhere.

Not all of Buatta’s rooms are chintz everywhere.

For each major project Mario creates these fold-down room plans, to scale, sketching out all the elements and attaching swatches, paint samples, tassels, etc. for reference.

14 July 2008 at 11:24 am Leave a comment


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