Our clients’ expectations are higher than ever (a consequence of the proliferation of HGTV make-over shows). Knowing my own strengths and weaknesses, I use the initial meeting with a prospective client to determine whether the client’s project and personality are a good fit with me and my strengths. If I determine that we are not, I will refer this person to one of my peers who might be a better fit. Walking away from projects or clients where I don’t see a good fit is just as important for the success of my business as going after projects or clients where I believe I can add value through a collaborative relationship. This approach makes for a lot of happy clients, who are eager to refer my firm to their friends and colleagues.
My focus on providing excellent client service has resulted in numerous referrals; most of my new business comes via referrals from past clients. I don’t advertise broadly in magazines or online. Instead, I focus my marketing dollars on a monthly eNewsletter (using Constant Contact as my platform). I use the newsletter to highlight my previous projects and to educate readers about the need for working with an interior designer to get a project done right the first time. In terms of social media, I don’t spend much time on Facebook or Twitter because most of my clients are not active social media users. Houzz.com is the one website that appears to resonate with my clientele, so I have established a business page there.
3. What do you predict for the future of the interior design industry – and how can designers prepare for that?
I predict a healthy future for those of us who consistently put the needs of our clients first and run our businesses in a professional manner (signed letters of agreement, staying on budget, responding in timely manner, adhering to timelines, under-promising, and over-delivering). Transparency in pricing (no unreasonable markups) and using our clients’ money efficiently (which means different things to different clients) will remain crucial to a successful interior design business. Even wealthy clients want a good return for their money, i.e., quality product selection and responsive, professional service. They are happy to pay for our expertise in designing spaces, helping them to avoid costly mistakes, and freeing up their time.
My firm’s motto is “Let Tassels take the hassles out of creating your dream home.” While it may strike some as a bit cheesy, it accurately describes my role as a design consultant and problem solver for my clients.
❧ Let Tassels take the hassles out of creating your dream home ❧