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August 2014 ForResidentialPros.com | 49 pects fll out a questionnaire, and a mere 7% send them on a solo showroom visit. As far as collaboration, the majority of those polled – a whopping 76% – prefer to do their designs solo. Only 22% prefer to design in col- laboration with others, while 2% said someone else gener- ally does their designs. Not surprisingly, independent designers were far more like- ly to do their designs solo, while those associated with a showroom were more likely to design in collaboration with another party. How to handle design fees has long been a struggle for many design professionals, and the poll showed opin- ions are still split on this (see Graph 4). A little more than a third (35%) of those surveyed said they do not charge a design fee at all, while 33% charge a design fee but waive it if the prospect opts to do the project with them, 18% charge a design fee regard- less, and the remainder said, "it depends." Of the latter group, the decision to charge or not charge a design fee might depend on the size of the project, how serious the client seemed, the amount of time required or the number of revisions needed. Those who do not charge design fees may still opt to protect their designs by re- fusing to release them, only making them available at a showroom visit. Others said they will charge a fee only if the client asks for a copy of the design or otherwise indi- cates an interest in shopping the design around. Some will do a preliminary sketch, but will charge a fee for more in- volved designs or revisions. TECHNOLOGY Technolog y continues to gain a foothold in the design world, with 62% of those polled saying they always use some form of technolo- gy (software, apps, tablets or smart phones) in the design process (see Graph 5). Anoth- er 25% say they occasionally use technology during the design process, 10% say they never do, but are likely to in the future, and only 3% never do and say they don't plan to. As far as what tools survey respondents favor during the design process, 89% rely on manufacturer Web sites, 84% use design software, 62% do hand drawings, 48% utilize tear sheets from magazines, 46% like to visit design Web sites, 24% use help line or support systems and 20% rely on design apps (see Graph 6). Of those who use design software, 69% say they use 20-20, 16% use SketchUp, 12% favor AutoCad, 10% choose Chief Architect, 8% rely on Pro Kitchen Design Software, 1% use KCD Software and 13% use something else. TRENDS Tracking consumer trends is important for today's de- sign professionals. This was evident in the survey results, which showed that over the past year, 80% of those polled had attended at least one edu- cational or training session relating to consumer trends in order to help them remain up to date on consumer hot buttons. And, more than half of those who responded to the survey said they'd attend- ed at least three educational sessions addressing consum- er trends over the past year. Even those who had not attended any such educa- tional training recognized the importance of it, with two thirds of those who hadn't at- tended such training saying they planned to in the future. Designers and dealers also have a fair amount of infuence in defning these trends by the products and materials they specify. For instance, 93% of design pro- fessionals polled said they are the primary infuencer when it comes to cabinet pur- chases, while 73% said they have the greater infuence in choosing countertops and 57% said they generally con- trol the ventilation decision (see Graph 7). By contrast, only 30% said they are the primary inf luencer when it comes to the selection of major appliances. Likewise, dealers and de- signers often infuence how "green" a project will be, simply by specifying more environmentally friendly produc t s. For i n st a nce, while the green trend has gotten less media attention in the consumer world of late, kitchen and bath design professionals still seem to be supporting eco-friendly prod- ucts and materials. In fact, more than half (54%) said they have specifed cabine- try with low-VOC content and 53% said they've specified countertops with recycled materials over the past year (see Graph 8) . This is particu- larly notable because these product categories are ones in which they tend to have great infuence with clients. Similarly, nearly half of those polled said they'd spec- ified high-efficiency toilets (45%) or touchless faucets (43%) over the past year. Interestingly, far fewer seemed inclined to specify high-tech products such as programmable shower sys- tems (11%) or technology that integrates diferent parts of the home (13%). 7. Primary Infuencer of Key Product Decisions Cabinetry Countertops Vent Hoods Plumbing Fixtures Lighting Flooring Major Appliances Dealer/Designer Consumer 93% 7% 74% 26% 57% 43% 49% 51% 49% 51% 39% 61% 30% 70% 35% Do not charge a design fee 33% Charge but waive it if they do the project 18% Charge a design fee 14% It Depends 35% 33% 18% 14% 4. How Designers Handle Design Fees 5. How Often Dealers/Designers Use Technology in the Design Process 62% Always 25% Occasionally 10% Never but likely to in the future 3% Never and don't plan to 89% Manufacturer Web sites 84% Design software 62% Hand drawings 48% Tear sheets from magazines 46% Design Web sites 24% Help line or support systems 20% Design apps 6. Tools Designers Use 62% 25% 10% 8. Sustainable Products Specifed by Dealers/Designers in the Past Year 54% Low-VOC cabinetry 53% Countertops with recycled content 48% Products from renewable resources 42% Low-VOC paint 27% Reclaimed wood 5% Other