What is an Interior Design Proposal?
An interior design proposal is a document that’s drafted for a client in need of interior design services. It’s a key step in the sales process for any interior designer and an essential part of the potential customer’s decision making process.
You want to make sure that your interior design proposal is thorough and well-structured, and generally a great first impression that highlights the value of your collaboration.
What to Include in the Interior Design Proposal
Make sure you’re ticking all the boxes with your interior design proposal. This way, the client has all the necessary information to make their decision.
Here’s what you should be including when writing proposals:
We previously mentioned how your project proposal is your businesses’ first impression with prospective clients. Well, if the interior design proposal is the first handshake—the cover letter is the smile before the handshake.
A cover letter is the first thing potential clients encounter when picking up your proposal, and it’s what helps them decide whether to continue reading and evaluating your project proposal. A weak cover page will likely lead to your interior design proposal being tossed aside—and with it the chances of your interior design services being chosen.
Next up is an executive summary of your interior design proposal—what the client can expect from the following pages.
An interior design proposal’s executive summary requires the same info as any other executive summary—it rounds up the most important information from the proposal. It sets the reader up for what they can expect to learn from your proposal.
This is your chance to introduce your company and how you work. If you’re a one-person business, this is a great time to let your personality and passion shine through. Here are some suggestions for what to include in your company overview:
- Basic information: like where you’re located, when the business was founded, what industry you mostly work in, and more
- Mission statement: this helps prospective clients understand what your business is about
- Business structure: this provides insight on how your company is structured and how that affects, if at all, your service delivery
- Future goals: show where your business is looking to head in the future
Overall, you want to provide a background on your company in your design proposal, and let your personality shine through. People buy from people.
Here you can introduce the individuals at your company—whether that’s just you or a whole team of interior designers.
This allows prospective clients to better understand who it is they’ll be working with, and who the person behind the proposal is. You want to reassure them of your experience, and make them feel like their project is in safe hands with you.
Here are a couple of things you could look to include when talking about yourself and other team members:
- Name and photo: for LinkedIn stalking purposes, of course—and because this increases the clients familiarity with your organization. Smiley faces are always better than lines and lines of text—images help readers retain up to 65% of the information three days later, as opposed to 10% when including only text.
- Role in the organization: to show potential clients who it is they’ll be working with on different parts of the interior design project.
- Biography: include some background information on each team member, such as experience, education, and interests. Depending on what information you’ve gathered about the client and their project, you can add details like fun facts or party tricks to make your team seem more approachable..
It’s up to you how to format this layout and what information to include. You may choose to only include team members that will be working on the project at hand, or you may decide to include the whole team.
The key to winning new clients and new projects lies in your previous clients and projects. It's essential to showcase your previous work in order to give potential clients an example of past work you’ve completed.
Every project is a case study when it comes to interior design, and your before and after pictures are an essential marketing tool. Taking advantage of the different types of projects you’ve completed are a key asset in your sales portfolio.
Ensure you’ve got permission from your previous clients to use images from their project.
Note: Bonsai’s free interior design contract includes a clause that ensures you can use images from the projects you undertake. If your previous contracts don’t include this, reach out to previous clients to make sure they’re happy for you to use images from their project.
This is where you detail your plans for their interior design project. You take all the information available to you, and create a plan for how your team will approach the project. Here are some key aspects to include:
- Scope of work: this doesn’t require too much detail at this point, but it’s good to set expectations in relation to the interior design project
- Specific milestones: lets the client know how you’ll keep them updated on the project
- Timeline: provides information on when you’ll be able to complete the project
- Examples: such as mock-ups to show the client what they can expect the final project to look like
This is by no means a complete or exhaustive summary of all the aspects of the potential project. It’s merely to set expectations and provide the client with an idea of how you intend to go about their project.
Finally, you want to set expectations when it comes to pricing details. You don’t need to provide an exact breakdown or fixed price quote, but it's a good idea to include some pricing information.
This ensures that the prospective client has a ballpark figure of what your services cost and how it fits into their working budget. This is also where you include any payment terms you think should be communicated upfront.
How to Write an Interior Design Proposal
When it comes to writing an interior design proposal, there are some best practices to stick to. Following these guidelines will ensure you create project-winning proposals every single time.
You always want to remember that the aim of any business proposal is to win over the client. You want to highlight why your services are better than other interior designers’, and why working together will help your client reach their goals.
It’s an opportunity to flex your interior design muscles, so don’t be shy. Here are some of our top tips:
1. Find out exactly what the client wants
Although some things may change throughout the interior design process, initially your client has an idea of what they’re looking for. They know why they’re hiring an interior designer, and they know what their goals for the project are.
One of the most important jobs when drafting an interior design proposal is sourcing and utilizing that information. Get a little scrappy with how you find these details as a proposal is often the first contact you have with a prospective customer.
Sometimes, businesses will invite proposals for a specific project. If this is the case, they’ll likely include the necessary info to construct your proposal.
However, when working with smaller clients you’re less likely to receive such a detailed project overview. In this case, you may choose to independently research the prospective client or reach out to ask a couple of preliminary questions.
If not, it’s a good idea to consider their:
- Objectives: find out what it is they’re looking to achieve, not only the short-term, but also in the long-run. It’s important to understand how your project fits into their wider business objectives.
- Budget: if your services are out of their budget, it’s likely that working together is off the cards. Wait until you’re both in a better position to meet each other's business needs, or consider providing a scope of work or payment plan that fits their budget.
- Stakeholders: consider who it is you’ll be talking to as you should aim to cater your message to that individual or group. This helps when deciding how to phrase things and what tone to use in your delivery. It also helps determine which parts of your proposal you should focus on most heavily.
Keeping these points in mind will help you deliver a proposal that ticks all your client’s boxes. In order to provide the ideal service, you need to understand what constitutes ideal in the client’s book. You’re not creating an interior design proposal that you love—you’re creating one that they’ll love.
That being said, what you love doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive. You always want to stand out, which leads us to our next point.
2. Highlight what sets you apart
It’s important to clearly lay out why you’re the best person for the job. You’re not the only interior design specialist or interior design firm throwing your hat in the ring, but you want to assure the potential client that you’re the best.
This is where you need to highlight your USPs. Whether they’re general or project-specific, they need to set you apart from the competition. This could look like:
“We’re partnered with suppliers all over the world to ensure our clients have access to the resources and materials to make their dream space come to life.”
“We use bespoke interior design software to create 3D models of your space 3x faster than anyone else on the market.”
Whatever makes your interior design process unique, include it in your proposal. When all’s said and done, you want to ensure the prospective client has no other option than to go with your services.
3. Be specific, but avoid jargon
You want to ensure prospective clients feel safe leaving their interior design project in your hands. You don’t want to confuse them with industry jargon and confusing processes. The fine details are yours to consider, the client is likely more interested in the bigger picture.
Including more details doesn’t guarantee a better understanding of your interior design creative process. Nor does it mean more business or more clients. Writing a project proposal is all about communication—it’s often as hard to decide what not to include as it is to decide what to include.
The line between too many details and just enough details is very thin, and it’s up to you to strike the right balance.
4. Include a call to action to your interior design services
Ideally—after reading your proposal—prospective clients would jump to call or email you. This is harder to do if you don’t include any contact information, so make sure to provide information on how to reach you.
When doing this, also nudge them towards what you want them to do—contract your services. Make it as easy as possible for clients to express their interest, and make sure to be snappy with replies.
A strong first impression is great—but it’s important to dazzle throughout the entire process in order to secure the project and create lasting business relationships.
Creating an Interior Design Proposal is Simple with Bonsai
There is another way to send out well-structured, informative, and convincing project proposals that involves a lot less effort. Bonsai’s free proposal templates—including interior design proposal templates and more—are a quick and simple way to create impactful proposals.
Here’s how to speed up your interior design proposal process:
- Sign up for free to the Bonsai platform
- Find your desired project proposal
- Edit it to meet your proposal needs
That’s it—then you’ve got an interior design proposal that’s ready to send out to potential clients. Bonsai also has you covered for the next step with new clients, with an interior design contract template that ensures you’re fully covered and protected from any misunderstandings.
Interior Design Proposal FAQs
How long is an interior designer proposal?
There’s no exact word count for an interior design proposal. You want to make sure your proposal provides enough information without being so long it becomes exhausting to read.
Consider this: would you want to read your interior design proposal cover to cover? Is every word adding value?
If you responded negatively to either of these questions, you might want to make a couple changes to your interior design proposal.
What should be included in an interior designers’ proposals?
When you create an interior design proposal, make sure to include the following:
- Cover letter
- Executive summary
- Company overview
- Design team members
- Previous projects
- Project summary
- Pricing details
This ensures you cover all the bases when it comes to clearly communicating your interior design offerings.