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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been getting more small to medium sized custom trim and painting jobs and I'm realizing I don't have a good system for helping customers choose baseboard, casing, door handles etc.

One job I'm about to start I will be replacing 7 interior doors, including changing a bifold to a bypass, all the casing on those doors, about 120 feet of base, painting all the new stuff and a few other odds and ends. Another job, starting late February, is replacing 4 doors, a bunch of base, installing paneling up the stairs and part of another wall and 2 fancy built up columns with crown and everything around door openings, so no new construction and barely even a real remodel but definitely more than just basic repairs and painting.

Paint colors haven't been a problem, I bring a fan deck from Sherwin and include a couple test patches in my quote, I also offer to connect them to a color consultant I know if they want it, but the trim has been a lot harder. I've been sending people electronic catalogs to look through and some of them are having a hard time visualizing things from the catalog, I've been picking up some trim samples but I need people to narrow it down a little for me before I start getting samples, there are thousands of different options and some of them are so custom it's looking like it will be cost effective to route them myself but then I can drop a few hundred just on bits and not even be sure that’s what they want. I'm starting to think working with an interior designer might be a good option at this point, not only to make sure the customers are really getting what they want and not have them asking me what looks good (I'm not the best at design and I don't want the liability) but also as a way to take my operation up a level. I might still need a few good show rooms and catalogs to go with the designer or to offer people who have simpler jobs and don't want a designer. Any thoughts and recommendations?
 

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Yes. Stop acting as an interior designer or trim salesman unless you budget for it in your estimate for someone to do that.

When you talk to he client, simply give them recommendations to places they can go to select their paint color, trim and doors. you can hand them a color wheel if you want and pick it up the next day after they made their selection or let them go on their dime to make the selections. If they ask you for your opinion, simply tell them that you are not a designer in a nice way. If they insist that they want you to help them, simply tell them that you are more than happy to help but because it will be taking your time away from other work or family time, you have to charge them for your time. Give them an hourly rate and if they agree, great. If not, ask them to let you know when they have made their selections. You can also refer them to a designer who went to school to learn what they do. After they meet with the designer, they can come back to you with their selections.

Your customer has a decision to make. Do they want to shop at Walmart or Macy's. Let them make that decision for themselves. If they choose Walmart, ask them to give you the item number for their selections when they have them and you can start work. If they choose Macy's take them by the hand but make sure you charge for them for that service. If you do not have a line item for that service in your original estimate don't do it.

You also have a decision to make. Do you want to be paid for your time, or spend that time that you could have spent fishing with your kids helping someone make selections for free.

If what you are being asked to do does not have a line item in your estimate to pay someone to do it, don't do it.
 

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I've been getting more small to medium sized custom trim and painting jobs and I'm realizing I don't have a good system for helping customers choose baseboard, casing, door handles etc.

One job I'm about to start I will be replacing 7 interior doors, including changing a bifold to a bypass, all the casing on those doors, about 120 feet of base, painting all the new stuff and a few other odds and ends. Another job, starting late February, is replacing 4 doors, a bunch of base, installing paneling up the stairs and part of another wall and 2 fancy built up columns with crown and everything around door openings, so no new construction and barely even a real remodel but definitely more than just basic repairs and painting.

Paint colors haven't been a problem, I bring a fan deck from Sherwin and include a couple test patches in my quote, I also offer to connect them to a color consultant I know if they want it, but the trim has been a lot harder. I've been sending people electronic catalogs to look through and some of them are having a hard time visualizing things from the catalog, I've been picking up some trim samples but I need people to narrow it down a little for me before I start getting samples, there are thousands of different options and some of them are so custom it's looking like it will be cost effective to route them myself but then I can drop a few hundred just on bits and not even be sure that’s what they want. I'm starting to think working with an interior designer might be a good option at this point, not only to make sure the customers are really getting what they want and not have them asking me what looks good (I'm not the best at design and I don't want the liability) but also as a way to take my operation up a level. I might still need a few good show rooms and catalogs to go with the designer or to offer people who have simpler jobs and don't want a designer. Any thoughts and recommendations?
I would bring in a pro. Not only will they have the skills and experience to guide your client toward a choice the client will like when the job is complete and they can actually see it, but they’ll probably have a gift for upsells and cross sells to bring the entire home into the client’s vision.
 

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I would bring in a pro. Not only will they have the skills and experience to guide your client toward a choice the client will like when the job is complete and they can actually see it, but they’ll probably have a gift for upsells and cross sells to bring the entire home into the client’s vision.
For 7 doors and trim in a foyer? whole house is a different animal

I usually leave them a few door catalogs and tell them to spend a weekend looking at Houzz.com to get some ideas, once they have an idea they we can fine tune it with some samples.
 

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People see that as an extra expense and it can shy them away from the project. If you are charging for your time to do this you are taking money off your own table and giving it to someone else.
 

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People see that as an extra expense and it can shy them away from the project. If you are charging for your time to do this you are taking money off your own table and giving it to someone else.
When you go to a company lets say to print flyers, business cards or wrap one of your trucks, they give you a estimate for what you want. When you look at the estimate, you will find a separate line item for design fees. You as the consumer have the choice to pay for that service or you can give them the design you want already on a flash drive and save yourself that fee.

Same thing when you take your car to the mechanic. You can tell them to change your spark plugs if you know what the issue is or you can pay them to run a diagnostics on the car to pinpoint the problem for you. The customer has the choice of taking his car to the dealer or billy-bobs repair shop.

Some people choose to get a burger at McDonald's for a couple bucks through the drive through and some people choose to go a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and pay $ 75.00 for a burger plus tip. To receive that level of service costs money. People understand that.

You as the service provider can choose to offer the service for free or charge for it. Whichever way you choose, will be correct. It's up to you to decide if you want to own a McDonald's or a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

One has a reputation for price and depends on volume to survive. The other has a reputation for quality and service and does not depend on volume to survive.

Both have customers. Both make a profit.

Whichever one you choose to be will be correct for you.
 

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This is kind of a loaded question. We usually try to stick to the architecture of the house regarding moldings ect. Same with paneling, we stick with what fit the house. If I can transition a taller base into your 3 1/2 col base neatly I will.

I have a ton of pictures and once clients realize I can see what they don't they let us run. Hardware on the other hand unless they are matching existing I send em' to restoration hardware or richelieu. They can head to the big box also.

I also work with a lady who does my kitchens. She sells the cabs and help with selections the whole way through. Not crazy money and her markup is reasonable. I know a few designers who specialize in smaller jobs but they seem to hold things up more than they help. For the size of the jobs you are talking I would figure 8 hours in handholding and do it myself.

One of my favorite parts of the job is design so I may be a jaded opinion. I also make rendering in sketchup as needed. I have never saved time working with a designer for small stuff.
 

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Yup, definitely don't give them too many choices. For most it makes it harder to decide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I am charging extra to help with the design but I don't think I'm charging enough, I don't think I'm very good at it and I'm finding it to be a headache and another thing to keep track of. I do use catalogs and Houzz but sometimes people still want to see the stuff in their house or want help making a choice. I also don't want to completely step out of the design process either because then people start picking doors off the shelf from Menards with Kwikset handles and I don't want to use that kind of junk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have 3 large boxes of trim samples and door catalogs from my supplier. My clients will normally follow my recommendations. I don't give them a wealth of choices they just get confused.
Yes, that is a great point and definitely part of the balance I need to find, they do get overwhelmed but sometimes I give them some standard options and they still want to see more options.
 

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On smaller projects I simply state that I need selections by a certain date, and tell them where to look. Larger projects have an architect involved so it's off my plate.
Whenever I'm asked about color I tell the client that I'm happy to help make selections, and that they won't be happy with the result. I'm not a decorator, and to this day I don't know what color taupe is.
 

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I have some trim samples.

And color decks.

I listen to what they are asking for, try to take in the existing style of the house, and what other people are trending to

We have a conversation to sort this out. If my current samples and a few sketches gives them what they like great, otherwise they leave knowing what to think about and why. Tell them to look at houz or Pinterest for ideas and the next time we meet it's a done deal.

Same colors, color charts, gets you dead what they are thinking, color deck seems to tune it. I then grab the associated cards around those colors for them to view for week.

Some people tend to keep picking the same colors no matter how it's presented, Then you know that's what they want.

It's part of the service...some people already know what they want...

I tell everyone upfront, I don't pick colors, they do. I will explain how my wife and I see colors, we are opposites.

They laugh.

Too many cool colors out there.
 

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I`ve worked for designers all through my 30 years .
I`m not a good designer either .
I worked with the largest one in Miami for about 10 years , just trim.
that eventually died out
Hooked up with a couple New York designers . They gave me work for a good 8 years or so .
The last 15 years i work with a designer who gets me all kinds of jobs .
When i get a referral from a designer , its a 90% chance I`m getting the job , the people aren`t window shopping . They have already committed to doing work.
The designers can help them , and most likely talk them into other work,

You could even have a deal with a designer to come , and give a client a free hour ,( which you`ll pay her/him for the help)
The clients will feel better hearing a designer saying " this will look great "
 

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On smaller projects I simply state that I need selections by a certain date, and tell them where to look. Larger projects have an architect involved so it's off my plate.
Whenever I'm asked about color I tell the client that I'm happy to help make selections, and that they won't be happy with the result. I'm not a decorator, and to this day I don't know what color taupe is.
Taupe is any color that is not pure white.
 

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With regards to doors and trim, select a handful of each, that you like to work with, are easy to get (or make), and price your jobs with these as ”standard”. If they want to look for more, and take up more of your time, that is all extra. Chances are the job came in more money than they wanted to spend, and they will stick with standard. May not eliminate your issues, but probably reduce them.
 

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Forget pics in a catalog... the internet is FULL of examples and tell your customer that (they likely have seen stuff online that they've catalogued in their mind anyway)...

We tell them... "unless it comes to functionality, design or quality, when it comes to material choices there are so MANY to choose from as you can see from the internet... We can get access to or fabricate most anything you see that draws your attention, but we have samples of the most oft-used and/or requested materials for peoples projects..." (keep it limited)...

If you're going to walk them to the stores, and help them pic colors or antiques, or whatever, yeah, get paid for your time... What we do is provide drawings of their choices once they make them... additional drawings or revisions, come at a cost... seems to help focus them a bit more when they know it's going to cost more money to keep changing...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
On smaller projects I simply state that I need selections by a certain date, and tell them where to look. Larger projects have an architect involved so it's off my plate.
Whenever I'm asked about color I tell the client that I'm happy to help make selections, and that they won't be happy with the result. I'm not a decorator, and to this day I don't know what color taupe is.
I'll never forget one of the first big jobs I did on my own, a rental but a decent one, the property manager requested taupe so I went to Sherwin and said "I need 15 gallons in taupe" and the guy handed me a fan deck opened to the taupe section with like 25 different taupes and I was just standing there like "Fk! now what?"
 
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