How to improve your architecture fee proposal

When it comes to writing an architectural fee proposal, is it an art or a science? 

According to expert Ian Motley, fee writing is a highly scientific process that’s based entirely on behavioral finance. That begs the question: how can we incorporate that science into our proposals so that they stand out?

We invited Ian, founder of Blue Turtle Consulting, to join our monthly Huddle and speak to our community about fee proposal writing in the world of architecture.

Here are his tips for how architects can write winning fee proposals:

  1. Presentation is key. When presenting a fee proposal, your presentation matters more than what you’re charging. Humans are emotional creatures, and we need to address that in the proposal. Don’t treat your proposal as if it is a legal document. Rather, address the emotion that goes into designing a house or retail store, and appeal to your client’s needs.


  2. Experiment with a “freemium” model. When you implement a freemium model, you offer your client a free service and then give them the option to “upgrade” to a paid service. Some of the world’s biggest companies, such as LinkedIn or Spotify, have become highly successful through this model. In architecture, this will help give your client a sense of control in the process. Rather than dictating a single fee, you are letting the client choose their level of commitment to you. 


  3. Embrace the competition. Most likely, a client will engage with several architects before settling on one. So what do you do when faced with competition that’s charging a lower fee than you are? Rather than cutting your fees, provide the client with a range of service options. In a neat, visual chart, explain to the client the scope and services at each price point, while highlighting the benefits they will receive by opting for the higher fees. More often than not, you’ll find clients will want to spend more with you if it means they will get all the bells and whistles in their dream home.

Ian Motley is a design fee proposal consultant and co-founder of Blue Turtle Consulting. To learn more about how Blue Turtle can help your practice, you can book a 1-on-1 call with Ian via Calendly. Huddles are invite-only events where the Archibiz community and friends gather to learn more about a topic or trend that’s impacting architects and how they run their business.

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