The Designer’s Coach

The Six Fatal Mistakes of a Typical Design Business.

In my study of the decorating and design business, I have discovered that there are six main reasons that will prevent your ultimate success. If your company is skilled in a few of these six areas, but not all, you could prevent your business from reaching its potential. Therefore, to attain the status of a world-class organization, you must strive to understand and overcome the six fatal mistakes that could potentially destroy your dreams.

1) No Strategic Vision

Does your business operate without a vision of where you want to be in 5 years? Do you function day to day by making decisions that have no strategic basis? As the leader do you measure your own leadership competencies? Are you not willing to make behavioral changes in yourself in order to better the organization. Do you have the qualities to lead and make your team better?

2) Uncooperative Teamwork

Whether your company is a one-person operation or has dozens of people on the payroll, your business must operate as a team. Does your team distrust each another and act to protect one’s own interest? Is there constant fighting and name calling? Do your plans and ideas go unfulfilled? Are there individuals who look out for number one and not the team? It is a serious problem when the team works in an unharmonious state.

3) Haphazard Marketing

Many times I have seen money thrown at advertising as if it would magically encourage appointments. This is an ineffective attempt to generate leads through misappropriation of resources. What ends up happening is paying an extraordinary amount for a lead. Additionally, the most valued type of lead, the referral, is basically ignored or taken for granted.

4) Amateur Selling

Selling without a plan or system leaves the designer working in a confused state. At times you may be selling on price, and sometimes on value. The design team has not established a position in the mind of the consumer, and projects no clear value-message. There is also the problem where the sales team is not properly trained, and appears unprofessional.

5) Faulty Client Fulfillment

Once the deposit is received and the order process is underway, so begins the task of fulfilling your promises. This is the critical area where most businesses fail. There is very little room for error in meeting the expectations of your clients. This is because, if the perceived value is not achieved, the client will consider that her expectations have not been met, and then the consequences could be severe.

6) Lack of Pricing Strategy

It all comes down to this, the bottom line. The final measure of success will depend on your margins. This is a complex business, and unless you understand that your business must work on certain margins, you will not succeed. Most businesses will price each job as to the urgency of the cash-flow status and not understand the detrimental effects of a price cut. Additionally, there must be an effective accounting system to track all costs and measure profitability.

Whether you are starting an interior design business, or you have been in the decorating business for many years, you can improve many important aspects of operating and growing your company.

There are 6 coaching modules, each one dedicated to important aspects of creating a successful value based business as well as address the six fatal flaws described above. They are Leadership, Management, Marketing, Selling, Delivery, and Pricing. Within these areas you will find the necessary tools to succeed in a very challenging business.

The Leadership Coach

This is the first area of business development, all about you. You are the leader, and you must look within and become self aware as to the type of leader you will need to be. In this module, the work we will do will depend solely on you, your attitude, believes, your actions. We will examine your leadership competencies, and your leadership profile. How will you take your strengths and implement your vision for your organization? What will be your Strategic Vision for the future of your company?

The Team Coach

All businesses from a one person company to a larger organization, needs to work within a “team” concept. How will you manage, coach and lead your team? How can you become an effective leader, even if you are a one person operation? In this module you will learn how to create a team-chart, position agreements and how to employ the strategic Steps-to-Success (STS).

The Marketing Coach

The life blood of any business is to generate leads. We must develop a way to have a constant flow of new leads or we cannot survive. In this module we will examine the current state of your lead generation. Through careful analysis you will determine who your target market is. All successful businesses of your type, relies upon referrals. You will create a Referral Marketing Steps-to-Success (STS), and we will analyze your web marketing program.

The Sales Coach

The conversion of a lead to a sale is a strategic part of your business that requires the utmost attention. How do you sell your designs? Have you implemented a selling system? Are you delivering the intended message to your target market? We will develop a Client Management Steps-to-Success (STS) to keep in contact with your clients.

The Satisfaction Coach

Keeping your promise is the best way to grow your business and to encourage referrals. A flawless Client Fulfillment Steps-to-Success (STS) is critical to delivering on your promise to your clients. We will examine how you get things done, and encourage setting up the various STS. Along with this, we will work on making sure that you are exceeding your client’s expectations each and every time, with a Client Expectation STS.

The Negotiation Coach

Here we will develop a pricing strategy and estimating strategy. Are you basing what you charge on value you create or costs you incur? Also, in this module you will learn an effective “negotiation defense” against price shoppers and a strategy for developing effective contracts and agreements. Do you have a system to track all costs for each job? Are you communicating your “value-message” that will maintain the margins you need to stay in business?

The Magic of Design

There was a time people thought the world was flat. At another point in history it was believed that women didn’t have the know-how to run a business or change a tire. Then there was the one about man not being able to fly. Over time all of these fairytales have proven untrue.

So it is with interior design. Until recently, many people held the belief that having their home decorated by an interior designer was reserved for the rich and famous. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Fact is, many people of average income who live in a middleclass neighborhood are frequently surprised to learn they can easily afford the services of an interior designer. In other cases, many folks prefer to learn tips about design so they have the flexibility to redo a room on a whim. Either way, you have more choices today then ever before.

It is not uncommon to completely redo a room for a one time social event such as a birthday celebration, a graduation or a wedding. With some simple tips, even the most inexperienced person can easily spruce up a room.

Before you begin, think about the style you are interested in. Is it art deco, traditional, Mediterranean, western, modern, or contemporary? These are only a few of the multitude of choices you have. Think through how functional the room will be with what you have in mind. Avoid rugs and chairs that stain easily if there will be a lot of traffic in the room.

Be very careful to scale your furniture to the size of the room. If you have a very large space you can break up the area into little sitting groups or area groups. You can easily shift the “feel” of a room with the use of lighting and/or plants. Area rugs are another tool many designers use to break up large spaces. A variety of paint colors and wall textures can make even the most mundane room come to life.

Small space decorating is fast becoming a favorite topic for many people as real estate prices rise. Think priorities when it comes to small spaces. Do you need to use an area of the room for more than one reason? In some cases you can easily convert the kitchen table to your workspace provided you have cabinet space handy for supplies. A chest of drawers can easily serve this purpose by holding office supplies, linens, or even computer components.

If you are considering utilizing the services of a designer, do your homework. Check their portfolio and references. Find out how they are to work with, did they deliver on time, were they easy to work with and did they listen to the homeowner. If you get an affirmative answer on all of these and their fees are suitable to your budget, then take the leap. Often, interior designs services are provided at no additional cost to you, and will give you the extra edge you need to create exactly the feeling you want for your home.

A great designer can make recommendations you may not have thought of. Ultimately, their goal is for you to be ecstatic with what you were able to accomplish together. After all, you are the one that has to live in the space long after the designer has done their magic.

Copyright: © 2004 by Melody Foster

Web: www.thecozyhome.net

Publishing Guidelines: You may publish my article in your newsletter, on your website, or in your print publication provided you include the resource box at the end. Notification would be appreciated but is not required.

Interior Redesign: How To Choose A One Day Decorator

Interior redesigners – also known as interior refiners, redecorators, interior
arrangers, one day decorators, room makeover specialists and home stylists – bring
a unique perspective to their clients’ decorating dilemmas. While the business model
of traditional interior design services is largely based on profits from the markup of
furnishings and contract services which are resold to the client, interior redesigners
are overwhelmingly service oriented. Charging flat rates per room or hourly fees
which make their services accessible to those who aren’t interested in major
purchases, interior redesigners provide creative services to transform your rooms
using what you already own and limiting, or even eliminating, the need for new
investment.

The interior redesign segment of the decorating and design industry is growing
every day. Yet, while just about all the professionals in the field are service, rather
than sales, oriented, there are important differences in the approaches of interior
redesigners, even among those using the same professional designation.

Some interior redesigners will interview you in advance and then politely request
that you absent yourself from your home during the room redesign. While all the
furnishings that will be used are already in your home, you will be coming home to
a surprise redesign and possibly other rooms that have been substantially changed
by the relocation of furnishings to the redesigned room. Other redesigners will
insist on your presence, however, the degree of collaboration will vary from those
who will give you advice and leave it at that to those who really want to find ways to
bring your personal preferences into the design scheme.

Some interior redesigners will physically rearrange your furnishings, accessorize
your room and hang your artwork on the day of the redesign, while others will only
give you a written plan. Still others will both rearrange your rooms and provide you
with written plans to take your rooms to the next level. Some will only work with
what you already own, while others are willing to develop design plans for partially
furnished and even empty rooms. Some will include paint, window treatment and
lighting consultations in the plan, and offer a range of follow-up services, while
others will not go beyond what is possible to physically accomplish on the day of
the redesign.

Questions You Need to Ask

It is important that you take the time to decide what it is that you want from an
interior redesigner before you shop for professional help. Once you are clear about
your own goals and expectations, you can start asking the questions that will
enable you to match your needs with a particular redesigner’s services:

1. What is the scope of services included in the interior redesign?

2. Will the rooms actually be rearranged on the day of the redesign? If so, is there an
additional cost for movers or moving assistants?

3. Will you be given a written design plan and, if so, what will it include?

4. If you have a budget to go beyond the one day decorating, will the redesigner
provide specific ideas and guidance to maximize your budget and further enhance
your room?

5. Will you be expected to be present to work collaboratively with the redesigner or
will you be asked leave your home?

Whether you choose to collaborate with an interior redesigner or leave your home, it
is important that you have a good rapport with the professional you choose – after
all, a successful room redesign should reflect your personality and vision for your
home, not the designer’s. You should feel that the interior redesigner is
approachable, would value your ideas and is willing to take the time to understand
what you want and answer all of your concerns. Be wary of anyone who promises to
do so, but won’t take the time to listen and respond to you when you call to inquire
about services.

Also, be wary of anyone who promises that a room makeover can be done in “as
little as an hour” in order to get the appointment. A good interior redesign can
take many hours, and while there are rooms that can be completed in an hour, no
honest interior redesigner will tell you so without first seeing the room and
speaking with you about your needs and expectations.

If the redesigner offers flat rates based on the size of the room, ask for a rate card
or other written documentation. If hourly charges are involved, ask for an estimate
of hours based on the size and complexity of your project.

Companies marketing interior redesign services vary greatly, from the independent
redesigner to design agencies, referral operations and even franchises. Before you
book an appointment, insist upon speaking directly with the interior redesigner who
would be handling your project and assess that person’s experience and training
independently from the company marketing the services. Ideally you always want
the principal of the firm on your project, after all the firm’s reputation – not to
mention all those before and after photos on the Web site – reflect the abilities of
the principal, not its lower level staff. Check whether this would involve additional
unadvertised fees, as is often the case.

If you take the time to find a great interior redesigner, you will find Interior
redesign to be a great decorating solution, offering an affordable means to a
dramatic transformation of your home in one day with little or no additional
investment.