Retainers Backed for All Kitchen and Bath Design Professionals

Retainers Backed for All Kitchen and Bath Design Professionals

Kitchen and bath designers should employ design retainers to demonstrate their professionalism, set themselves apart from the competition and close more jobs.

That's the advice of Peggy McGowen and Bill Feinberg, two members of the Bath & Kitchen Buying Group (BKBG). The pair addressed members of the Houston, TX-based BKBG at a recent educational conference sponsored by the member-owned co-op.

McGowen, a former president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and owner of the Houston, TX-based design firm Kitchen & Bath Concepts, observed that "design fees show that we are professionals."

"Even repair service men charge a fee to look at an appliance and determine what's wrong with it," she said. "In addition, design retainers usually result in a higher closing percentage of the projects you work on."

According to Feinberg, of Allied Kitchen & Bath, in Fort Lauderdale, FL, most kitchen and bath designers credit the retainer in the first customer deposit. However, Feinberg suggested that designers consider using the retainer credit for the final balance due.

"This reduces your exposure and makes the customer owe less at the completion of the project," he said.

Two additional suggestions regarding retainers included the following:

  • Start with a small fee as a design retainer, and then increase it as you become more comfortable.
  • One size doesn't necessarily fit all. In other words, the amount of the design fee can be based on the experience of the designer. For example, a 20-year design veteran may charge $2,000, while a new designer may ask for $500.