Friday, June 13, 2008

Valuing What You Do

I have randomly selected the photos in this post from a condo that was staged last summer by Laura and me. I am using them to help myself solve a dilemma about the value of our work.

Finding the Value
Before & After

Today I am struggling with bidding a project correctly. I have a new Realtor that has given me 3 houses in the past week. I have never worked for her before but she has seen and liked my work in several houses over the past couple of years.

Each house that she has given me is very different except for the fact that they all belong to her good friends. I am finding this more and more as the market has gotten so soft..agents are recruiting their friends more than they use to as clients. This seems to add an edgy component as they are not only trying to make money but are trying to keep their friendships in tact as well. They want to help their friends, impress their friends, make their friends feel like they are getting a great price for the staging...the list goes on. They also want to get the best selling price, work with other professionals to insure that, etc. This is good but it is almost a conflict of interest when a third party, namely me, is introduced into the equation.

Before & After

So all that being said~ two of the three homeowners are already consulted with and the bids have been accepted and the dates set for the staging. The last house is the one that is making me crazy.

The house is in a very posh neighborhood in Lafayette. The house has been professionally decorated and is very well-appointed for living in but it definitely needs some enhancements for selling. This house will be the second of the two houses if I get the job and so I will be considering all three houses as I plan the projects making sure that I have all I need for each one, etc.

Before & After

The house is over 3100 square feet, has great art, furniture, etc. but is lacking in greenery, florals, linens, and accessories. What that means according to my experience is that it will swallow up a lot more stuff than you would initially think. It will take longer than you anticipate, etc, etc. The problem with these types of houses is that the owner thinks it looks pretty fine and just needs some decluttering, you have to make sure that all your accessories are going to give at least the appearance of being high end, and you usually err on the side of reducing your profit and underestimating the value of the service you provide.

Before & After

Even with years of experience this tends to be an ongoing problem with small business owners and I think it is particularly true of women. We are so use to doing so much for other people for free and putting ourselves last on the list to make everyone else happy. This is OK in some aspects of life but not in business. I have several friends that have their own businesses and it is a recurring theme for all of us.

Before & After

Sometimes it is more important to take a leap of faith and just go with your desire to be fair to everyone, including yourself (which is the hardest) and go with your gut feeling as to the best price. Other times it is better to sacrifice a little to further promote your business to a new client. Sometimes it is better to realize that even though you may not get the job, you have to value what you do and charge accordingly. You have to know within your heart and mind that your quote was a fair one for all concerned. And then sometimes you just have to realize that how you view what you do is more important than the actual $ you put in your pocket for any given project.

As an example, let's say your honestly calculate all the things that have to be considered, your time, talent, overhead costs, etc, and you come up with a certain number. The client may or may not say yes to your bid. If they do, great. If they don't you have to feel justified in knowing you did what what right and they said no because they don't understand the value of what they would be getting. What you don't want to do for sure is underestimate and take a loss just because you weren't sure of the value of what you do. Having the confidence to value what you do is more important than money. Finding the balance is the tricky part.


Addendum to this post ~ As it turned out I wrote this family a two page letter regarding the staging and they have decided to declutter themselves. I need to learn to follow that feeling I get and recognize it as the Holy Ghost saying~this is not a good fit. The minute I got word they were not staging I got that total peace that comes over you when things have been righted. I am so thankful I stuck to my guns and what transpired was right. I know that what I do is of value but not everyone will recognize it. That is fine. It turned out just great and this time I didn't get taken advantage of for trying to be a nice guy! This is a big step forward!


Lanette said...

Bonnie you always seem so confident about your business - it's nice to see you wrestling with this. I find it especially trying in this economy when money is so tight and uncertain and the service is unnecessary but a great investment in the long run. When things are good people shell out for the extras when they're not people like to have money in the bank - at least I do.

Laura said...

That says so much, that this woman is referring you to her friends. Just think, you already have two bids, and there is a great chance for the third one also, but if not, you still have those two, and probably a lot more referrals coming. I bet you will also get the third---know you are worth it, regardless!!!

The Gatchell Crew said...

WOW you are one talented lady!! You do fabulous work & are worth every penny you charge! No that & feel good about that!!! YOU ARE FANTASTIC!!!