Will Lower Fees Save Your Firm?

Have you reduced your fees, with the intent of obtaining more work?

The economy dumps and projects vanish. In reaction, the architect drops her fees. Revenues plummet and the firm shutters its shop.

Sound familiar? Do you fall somewhere in that scenario? I hope not.

Reduced fees will not save your practice. It will kill it.

Our strategy is different… and so far, it’s worked.

We held our fees at the level required to cover our overhead and make a profit (which, interestingly enough, is a “high fee” compared to our local competition). That’s what every business must do to stay in business and thrive into the future.

Then we reduced our expenses to the minimum and expanded our services to the maximum. We remained focused on high-touch customer service and our revenues remained strong (although cash flow is a whole other blog post).

We have survived the worst of times.

Have you reduced your fees? Why or why not? What other strategies have you used to weather the storm?

Let’s talk.

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3 Responses to “Will Lower Fees Save Your Firm?”


  1. 1 nung chong March 18, 2010 at 12:33 AM

    No, fee cannot be reduced to attract project. It will become a death spiral
    We can’t shrink our way to greatness as per Tom Peter.
    However we can throw in a few “free” items that can be quantified, like 2 free hours of research for client on furniture selection.

    • 2 Mark R. LePage, AIA, LEED AP March 18, 2010 at 9:22 PM

      That is a good tip Nung.

      We try to give lots of “freebies” along the way. The key is to make certain that your client knows they are receiving a gift. You need to clearly identify “complementary” services as such.

      We have given freebies without identifying them and unfortunately didn’t get the credit we deserved. That’s worse than lowering your fees.

  2. 3 Erin N. Cooper, AIA, LEED AP March 21, 2010 at 9:09 PM

    I echo these comments! I’ve maintained my fees. I rarely give “freebies” for clients, but every once in a while it happens, such as agreeing to do an additional 2 hours to research a different material for no added fee. When I do that, I ALWAYS include the freebie on my invoice. I include the value of the service and then I show a discount (could be 100% of the value) so that they know what they are getting and so that it is recorded.


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