Interior Design Proposal
To run a successful business you need to understand to effectively sell. While this does require you to be an expert in your field, you also need to understand how to package, present, and price your services, and build a winning proposal. Before deciding to work with you, clients expect to go through a process of discovery (e.g., outlining the project scope) and ultimately to receive a full proposal that outlines exactly how your services will be fulfilled.
Without a well-crafted interior design proposal template your clients might be unclear about exactly which services you can provide, how much the entire project will cost, and a realistic timeline for completion. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the need to create a new interior design proposal and figuring out how to use it to get a client over the finish line, don’t worry!
There are lots of resources to help guide you step-by-step through the process and produce a winning template. We’ll break down exactly when to prepare your proposal, the sections you should include, how to show your deliverables, top tips for your proposal creation process, and a free template to get you successfully started with offering interior design services.
If you’re ready to send out an interior design contract and win your first few freelancer clients, let’s get started!
Image Credit: envato.com
When Should You Provide an Interior Design Proposal?
Don’t make the mistake of sending a proposal to your client immediately after they reach out to you. Similarly, you also don’t want to provide your pricing too early. The process of earning new business can take time and patience. In most cases you’ll likely find that the path from a new contact to a converted client looks something like this:
- A lead is referred to you or reaches out by finding your contact information somewhere.
- You schedule an introduction call with the lead to understand their exact needs.
- On this call, you are able to gather information about their project, budget, and timeline.
- After the call, you do any required research and craft a proposal.
- During a final meeting, you will present the formal proposal to the prospect and leave this document with them for reference after the presentation concludes.
Although they do cover high-level concepts and summaries, proposals also include specific details that are customized to each prospect’s needs. You will only be able to understand and address these details after spending enough time researching their unique situation.
If a prospective client pushes you to provide a proposal right away (especially if it’s before you’ve even had a call) then you might need to politely push back, and great this as a red flag. It’s not fair or appropriate to skip a vendor’s process just because you’re in a hurry.
You can often tell how a client will treat you by how they act during the sales process. If they just want to talk pricing and see your proposal, and they are unwilling to wait, then you might be better off telling them that you’re not the right fit for the project.
7 Must-Haves in an Interior Design Proposal
There’s a lot of advice about how to create sales proposals that effectively win new business. However, this advice doesn’t apply to every industry. Below, we’ve curated some of the most important aspects of an interior design proposal and provided further context on why they’re important.
Skipping one of these sections might cause you to confuse a prospect, or potentially miss an important piece of information. It’s critical to remember that proposals serve you (the provider) just as much as the client.
You can use the proposal to protect yourself against potential pitfalls like disputes about billing or project scope. Including each area below in your comprehensive proposal is simply a best practice when laying the groundwork for a mutually beneficial relationship.
Lastly, note that the sections below are not listed in a particular order because you may want to strategically move them around based on an individual client or as you tweak your template to optimize its flow and layout.
You’ll likely be speaking directly from this document when you conduct a final presentation, and that will be the best time to make notes about how well it works and what you would like to change in the future.
Image Credit: envato.com
a) Use the first section of the proposal to simply state back what you’ve heard throughout the process of working with your client so far. Include a high-level overview of what needs to be done and the approach that will be taken.
It’s also appropriate to talk about yourself briefly in this section with a summary of your experience and the background that you bring to the project. But, you’ll provide more detailed examples of your work below for the client to reference. The summary is similar to a cover letter for the new project.
b) It’s also smart to state-specific things about your client in this section. For example, talk about things like their design preferences, constraints, budget, etc.
c) Overall, think of your summary as the place where you’ll make sure it’s clear to the client that fully understands what to do and what’s most important to them. The precise project details will follow in later sections.
a) This is an area to be very thorough with your descriptions of what the project’s conclusion will look like, and what your client should expect once you’re finished. Explicitly state exactly what will be accomplished when the project is finished, and be sure to also list what might remain done due to work that is dependent on others (or that will be completed by the client themselves).
b) Use the goals section to ensure that your client is completely clear and that their expectations are realistic. If you or the client is miscommunicated then this is likely one of the main areas where differences of opinion will surface.
Read also – Setting Goals for Interior Design Business
3. Work examples
a) Include the best examples from your interior design portfolios directly within the proposal. You should also go beyond simply adding pictures. Write a few sentences that describe what you did for the client, what their goals were and the outcome. Add visual details and, if possible, include a direct quote from the client with their picture.
b) Ultimately, your potential client just wants to know that you can deliver the design concepts they’re asking for and that your service will be good. Pick your work examples carefully based on what you’ve learned about the client through the discovery process.
c) Some professional service businesses also add references to their proposals, which is a great way to build trust and prove that you have a successful track record of completing projects with similar clients.
4. Scope of work
a) Every successful engagement for an interior design project, no matter how small, will start with a properly defined scope of work. It’s imperative that you don’t skip this step in your business proposal, and that you work hard to capture and thoroughly document each relevant detail of the design process and execution.
b) The scope of work will define exactly what you promise to do for the client during the course of your engagement. Throughout the project you can continually refer back to this scope of work as a mutual agreement about the services that would be provided, and how much time will be invested at each stage.
c) You can be very detailed with estimates of hours, who is responsible for which aspects of the project, workflow, key milestones, project manager expectations, the exact tasks to be addressed, which team members need to be provided notifications, the order of the steps and more.
Read also – Guide To Interior Design Project Management
5. Client expectations.
a) It’s entirely fair and it might even be expected to list exactly what you expect from the client. This section could include things like how often you’ll be in communication, how many revisions will be offered, how long you will wait for client input before moving to the next section of a project, and much more.
b) Be careful not to be so lengthy that you insult the client, but you should definitely be thorough enough to let them know that you will take the project seriously and will expect them to participate in the process.
6. Total price
a) Providing the price is one of the scariest parts of any proposal! However, there is an easy way to make this whole process less intimidating. Before you get to the final (total) price, list each itemized service above.
b) Breaking out each portion of the expenses in a pricing table will help the client understand each factor of the total price and how it represents a fair amount for the time, experience, tools, services, and other elements that you’ll provide.
Image Credit: envato.com
a) This section doesn’t need to be too long or too detailed unless you’ll be using a full legal contract (which can be sent separately). Essentially, you just want to cover when you expect to get paid, and how.
Contactors typically set payment terms that are 15, 30, or 45 from the date that services are rendered. Additionally, you’ll want to clearly explain if you accept credit cards, ACH, checks, or other types of payment.
Read also – Interior Design Client Questionnaire
Top 10 Tips for Writing a High Impact Interior Design Proposal
Now that we’ve covered exactly what you should put in each section, let’s review a few expert tips on how to make your proposal stand out, and how to give your prospects a superior sales experience.
1. Design it well, because it’s a reflection of you and your skill. Use a nice design program to add professional images, branding elements, and your company logo. If you plan to use one of the many free proposal templates, make sure that you introduce your own branding (images, logos, fonts,) so that new clients can start to recognize your brand.
2. Use an online e-signature tool like DocuSign, PandaDoc, or Fohlio to make the process of designing, sending, signing, and receiving your proposal much easier for everyone involved.
3. Have clear descriptions of your services and packages. Make sure that it’s explained exactly how you’ll get paid for the services provided, as some designers get paid as a percentage of the project, while others are paid based on an hourly fee. This should be noted in the Pricing section of the proposal, and clients may question that specific part of your fee structure.
4. Understand your client well, and make sure that you’ve had a clear conversation to learn their tastes, needs, preferences, and ultimate goals. A proposal that speaks directly to your client’s needs will be well received and definitely stand out more when compared to your competitor’s proposals.
5. Be specific when you spell out the details. If you think that there are going to be problem areas with your client during the project, then clarify exactly what expectations should be and how the overall process will work.
6. Add stipulations for potential deadlines, expectations, extensions, and payment terms, or how the terms of the agreement might change with certain circumstances.
7. If your client will be responsible for specific parts of the project, ensure that this has been clearly communicated.
8. Use a template the can be applied repeatedly with minimal changes. Don’t create a new proposal from scratch each time you have a new potential deal.
9. Send your proposal to friends, family, or professional colleagues for review before using it with a real client or prospect. They may be able to offer valuable feedback.
10. Continue working on your proposal over time, making adjustments and tweaks as necessary.
Image Credit: uicreative.net
High-Impact Interior Design Proposal Template
In the sections of the design project proposal template below, we’ve given you a huge jumpstart for creating your template by outlining each specific area your should cover, and providing some verbiage that you can tweak to make your own.
Prepared for: NAME | Prepared by: NAME
We appreciate the opportunity to provide this quote for NAME, and we hope to earn your business by thoroughly demonstrating our knowledge of your needs, proving our qualifications and credibility, and providing a fair estimate of the total services to be rendered.
We take pride in helping clients turn their vision into reality on time, and on budget. We promise to bring a listening ear, a partnership mentality, and a proven process to our work together.
Recognizing that CLIENT is seeking to GOAL, we hope to support the timely and professional completion of this goal.
CLIENT has stated the following as specific goals or priorities to be addressed through this project:
- Goal #1
- Goal #2
- Goal #3
We have over X years of experience serving a variety of clients in the INDUSTRY or RESIDENTIAL space. We’re proud of our legacy that has been built through hard work, an efficient approach, smart planning, and deep industry knowledge.
The examples below were selected for their relevance to CLIENT’s project, and show how we executed similar projects from concept to successful completion.
- Example #1
- Example #2
- Example #3
Throughout our years in business, we’ve built partnerships with numerous clients, and we’re happy to provide credible references listed below:
- Reference #1
- Reference #2
- Reference #3
Scope of Work
In support of CLIENT’s goals, we propose to provide the following services:
To ensure a mutually beneficial relationship, and one in which both parties contribute equitably, we expect that CLIENT will be able to either provide the following or find an acceptable substitute that does not place an undue burden on us.
- Expectation #1
- Expectation #2
- Expectation #3
The following itemized list and the total price represent the total sum of costs incurred by CLIENT for the services rendered (as defined in the scope of work).
- Service item #1
- Service item #2
- Service item #3
- Service item #4
We propose the following payment terms:
- 50% of the total project fee is due once the contract is signed and is due within 30 days of receipt.
- The remaining balance is due upon the project’s completion and is also due within 30 days of receipt.
Read also – Profit Margins for Interior Design Businesses
Get Additional Resources for Your Interior Design Business
Need more guidance, resources, and hands-on training? Join us!
Foyr has built an entire online community to help interior designers grow their businesses through education, networking, job postings, and much more. Through our e-learning platform, you can access courses on a broad range of topics, including:
- Starting and scaling a business.
- Determining your pricing strategy.
- Finding your individual style.
- Identifying your ideal client profile.
Use the Foyr community to socially network with other interior designers by commenting, sharing content, and participating in courses.