As we are still just getting started with this new year, this is a great time to take a look at basic business practices, looking for potential improvements. 

One area that seems to be a real problem with custom shops is whether or not to charge a design fee. We all know that every job requires in-house design work, whether you design the project from scratch or an architect submits drawings. (And I won't even get into all the errors in architectural drawings!)

The point is there is work you will have to do, and you should get paid for it. This is especially important if the work is preliminary to a signed contract. We've all heard horror stories of shops who have worked on an involved design only to have the potential customer shop it to a lower bidder.

Charging an upfront design fee can be a way of qualifying customers. If they are willing to pay, they are likely more serious about hiring you to do the work. If they are reluctant to pay up front, you can also assure them the fee will be included in the total price of the job. The idea is to establish a professional collaborative relationship from the start.

What's your policy on design fees?

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.