I’m a member of a couple of master mind groups and there are some strong opinions about charging and if the initial consultation should be paid or complimentary. Many designers don’t want to be taken advantage of and are nervous that if the share ideas during the initial consult. Many of them approach these initial meetings with the outlook that they don’t have a contract in place and want to be sure they are compensated for their time. But isn’t meeting a prospective client part of doing business? What if we meet and I can’t help you? It’s rare that occurs, but there have been circumstances where I’ve walked into a prospective client’s home and what they wanted to do just didn’t make sense or was feasible.
A client once wanted to have wainscoting throughout their entire first floor. It would have looked AWFUL. It’s not their job to know that upfront, and quite frankly, another designer might have done it for them without any word of warning just to get the job. But during that initial consultation, I pointed out all the reasons why I didn’t recommend going in that direction and offered alternate ideas for what they could do to architecturally enhance their space (which they loved by the way!). Yes, I’m a business person and I’m grateful to make a living doing what I’m passionate about, but it’s important that I’m also providing the best solution for my clients and helping them to have the home of their dreams. Shouldn’t all designers?