Interior Design Business Secrets – Turning on the Faucet For Referrals

As I went to my twice weekly Pilates session recently, I realized that I had never referred the studio I go to to any friends or clients. I am one of those “loyal-as-the-day-is-long” types and love to share my favorite resources so this surprised me. I realized that there were a couple of reasons. Firstly, while I genuinely enjoy my Pilates trainers, I don’t like the owner of the studio. I find her abrasive, unfriendly, and she doesn’t maintain the place in a fashion that I would consider truly professional. Secondly, while I’ve seen others there, I really have no idea who constitutes a good referral if I did want to share! So with this brief story, I’d like to share with you how to turn on your faucet of referrals!

Be friendly! Always greet everyone you come into contact with professionally and with a smile. It doesn’t matter if they are going to do business with you or not, they likely know people that would be great clients or customers.

Keep it clean! Maintain your product or premises in a clean, professional manner. Design counts! Making an office, showroom, or shop inviting always adds to the word of mouth that can grow your business. For those that work out of their car, that appearance counts as does a professional personal image. (Believe me; even in Pilates for the owner to look just-rolled-out-of-bed isn’t serving her.)

Be Targeted! Find out about your clients and customers. Dig deep so you know who your target is and know why they like to patronize your business or buy your products. Knowing this translates into knowing who else is your ideal fit.

Ask, Ask, And Ask! Always welcome existing clients and customers to refer their friends, family, and associates. Whether you do this verbally or have a small sign by the door or even a friendly note framed on the counter isn’t important. But you must ASK.

Make It Easy! When you ask for a referral spell out carefully in detail who you are looking for. You aren’t a fit for just anyone, but you want your best client or customer so describe that person. Again this can be in person, “I so enjoy working with you, it would be a treat to work with (be of service to) any of your friends that you think would benefit from my product/service.” Or you can put this on the framed note or the placard by the door.

Reward the Giver! Always when you get a referral, reward the giver. At the least with a note of thanks, often something more like a free session, a complementary product, or other incentive. They don’t need to know about this in advance. Surprisingly many people are motivated more by a do-good feeling than by tangible rewards, but this reinforces their good and generous behavior.

Interior Design Business Marketing Strategies – What Value Do You Bring to Your Clients?

Yesterday I gave my first teleseminar. Other than me giving out the wrong phone number to my attendees, I think it went really well. I gave lots of good information and even had a chance to talk about my new upcoming telesummit which is going to be absolutely fabulous!

So I felt really good about helping designers build a better business for their firms and today I went on Twitter to find someone sending a link to a blog post that designers are taking any kind of job right now to survive.

I felt very sad to see that and, although I know times are not as good as everyone would like, I so strongly believe that interior designers need to really start to think differently about their business models.

As I said in the seminar last night, I am a business consultant for the interior design sector and even I had to start to incorporate new marketing techniques like Social Media into my marketing plans. But I do not discount my fees because we are in hard times.

At the risk of really sounding quite pompous (and I apologize in advance because I am not), but my fees are as valuable in good or bad economies. In fact, I should RAISE my fees in a bad economy (which, of course, I do not)

So I have some advise for interior designers to help reinvent their business strategies:

(1) You are not selling design. Design is a product just like when I was selling beautiful product from Donghia and Larsen. It’s beautiful as I am sure your design work is, but there is a lot from which to choose out there. Offer VALUE. People will pay for what they perceive as value. How much is a Starbucks coffee? Do they apologize for the price? NO they RAISE it!

(2) Sell you entire design company. The value it will bring to a client. The experience your client will have working with you. Your business philosophy, the way you work, how your staff works to keep the project flawless.

(3) Use creative marketing ideas like blogging, Twitter, Linkedin…but learn how to use them strategically if you don’t already know otherwise it will just suck up your time….BUT FIRST AND FOREMOST

(4) DEFINE YOUR TARGET MARKET – once you do..dig deeper NOT wider.

(5) Network in a TARGET RICH ENVIRONMENT. But until you name that target, you will not be able to network, will you?

You have much more value to a target market than you do if you cast your net to try to catch anything. How many resources are you wasting by TRYING to get a client. Wouldn’t it be so much better to have clients know who YOU are? Until you define that target market you are one of a thousand interior design firms.

I know that might hurt to read that, but if I said I was a consultant, what does that tell you? What value do I bring to the table? I am one in a million out of work people (as someone once told me when I told them I was a consultant). This person asked me to dig deeper and find my value to future clients and I am asking interior designers to think the same way!

Interior Design Business Plan

One of the most exciting businesses to be in today, interior designing is a fast growing business with a huge potential as more people are buying newer homes or remodeling the existing ones. According to Home magazine around 46% Americans plan to remodel their existing living spaces today. Like any other business,the interior design business too needs the drawing up of an interior design business plan before beginning operations.

The benefits of making an interior design business plan are;

1.It gives you a framework within which to operate your business
2.The plan outlines the main action points to be done to set your business in motion.
3.The drafting of the plan gives you a thorough idea about all the facets of the business and you get an insiders view of your business.
4.The plan outlines your mission, company profile, target market and products and services to be offered thus giving you a broad framework for your business.
5.The plan will also give you a idea of the expenses that you will need to incur to start your business and thus greatly reducing the risk of overspending and unproductive expenditure.
6.The plan is also the basis on which you can approach banks and investors for funds for your project.

The key points that are to be included in an interior design business plan are; ( This is an indicative list and actuals may vary for different individuals)

1. The business plan should begin with an executive summary of the company which is actually a short summary of your entire business plan. This is normally drafted once you are done with preparing the entire plan.
1.The plan should include a list of the objectives of the business in terms of what it aims to achieve in revenue and market size and how it aims to do so.
2. It should include a mission statement which will highlight the reason for operating the firm and how they plan to achieve their objectives.
3. The interior design business plan should also include a company summary which will contain a brief note about the company along with the name and address of the owner of the business. apart from this it will also contain the address of the registered office of the firm along with the locations and addresses of branch offices if any.
4. Organizational layout of the company.
5.The interior designing business plan will also contain details about the all products and services being offered to the clients.
6.It should contain a market analysis survey based on geographical area and demographics (specific preferences and tastes) which will help it to understand its potential clients better and design their products and services to suit their clients needs.
7.The plan should also contain a report about the future potential of the market in terms of the growth expected (to help you analyze the scope of the market). This will help you to select a niche which has scope for growth and has a low entry barrier.
8.It should also include details about the target market (in terms of the geographical area, segment and the size of the market) that you have chosen to operate in and a list of the services and products that you would be providing to your target market.
9. A Competition analysis report can be included to give you a picture about your competitors (their strengths and shortcomings). This can be very useful to you to decide the segment you want to work in by analysing the level of competition in each and can also help you to build up on the weaknesses of your competition and to learn from their strengths.
10. A SWOT analysis ( strengths,weakness,opportunities and threats) of yourself to help understand your strengths and weaknesses and to analyse threats and see if they could be converted to opportunities.
11. The report should contain a list and preferably quotes from different vendors and suppliers in the area to help you zero in on the vendors that you wish to work with.
12.Marketing strategy to be undertaken by the business to penetrate the market.
13.Personnel and human resource policies to be followed.
14.Financial projections and estimations.
15.Pricing strategies( includes the credit terms for customers and also the rules to make tenders to participate in bids)
16.Future growth plans for the interior design business.
17.A section containing details of why you think that the growth assumptions made by you are realistic.

Make a note here that you should try and incorporate as much data and figures in your plan that you can manage to collect. Data pertaining to market size,market trends and even competition will give you the correct picture of the business you are about to begin and will help you formulate a realistic interior design business plan.

After collecting all this data preparing the plan you will begin to see a outline for your business and now you can begin to execute your plan on the ground. You can begin by following the plan in the listed order and begin to undertake the activities that you have listed in the interior design business plan.

3 Ways to Be an Interior Designer

You know you have the passion and creativity to achieve success in the interior design business. But you are wondering where and how to start. You ask yourself whether you need a formal certificate or degree to start practicing interior design. Of course a degree can really help you in finding your dream job if you are considering working for people. However, if you live in the US or Europe right now; people will tell you that they are having tough time finding employment; some were even unemployed for years! The point is there are many people out there in the market looking for the same thing as you. So if you have decided to get a formal education, then go as high as you can afford, you need to get a Bachelor Degree at the very least considering the competition you are up against; don’t just settle for a Diploma or Certificate.

What if you don’t have the money and you don’t wish to apply for a student loan to further your study. Can you still make your dream comes through as an Interior Designer one day? The answer is YES! It is not always necessary to register to a professional body in order to practice interior design. You can always partner with a contractor to carry out renovation projects. In fact, this is the best way to give you higher profit margin. When a client ask you for interior design service, you will come out with the design sketches and ask a contractor to give you a rough estimation of the construction cost for the design. You then mark up the cost (depending on how much profit you wish to make from this project) and present it to the client. Most clients would want to have this type of design and build service as they just need to coordinate with one person only and that person is you. They will also have a better idea how much they have to fork out for the renovation. If this sounds like the path that you would probably take, then what you must have are 2 things: ideas and network. Do you need to complete a degree to get ideas? I don’t think so. You can get ideas from books, places you visit or travel to, internet and in fact anywhere you go. We are surrounded by design ideas everyday everywhere.

Perhaps you are now saying that: “But I still prefer to work for people because I don’t think I’m ready to start my own practice yet.” No problem, there is still another option for you. Have you thought about working in another country? It is just one click away for you to find out there are vast opportunities in other parts of the world.

I’ve just briefly highlighted the 3 ways that you can consider in becoming an Interior Designer.

Option 1 – Get a degree and work for an Interior Design company
Option 2 – Start your own business
Option 3 – Work overseas