Susan Victor and Sue Shannon
I really don’t remember how I met Susan Victor….all I remember is that I liked her immediately. I do remember that one of our first conversations was about a great (competitor’s) sales training program that she had been through recently and how much she learned from it. She has such a natural affinity to the sales process and executing it with intention and grace that she could teach people how to sell, and does in her own company. I had the pleasure of working with Susan and her partner Sue Shannon and their Atlanta showroom several years ago when they opened that location. It’s in a darling neighborhood and has fabulous accessories, so I did all of my Christmas shopping there that year! Sue and Susan are in their second career and met during their first and decided to follow their passion for design and have (along with Susan’s husband Jim and her brother John) made Nandina Home a fixture in their marketplaces. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Thanks so much ladies!!!!
1. What are the biggest changes I have seen to the industry and to your business in the last five years?
Because we are a young (8 years old) company, our view of industry changes in the last years may be different than those who have been around a long time. It’s often easier for the “new guys” to change and adapt because we in the early stages of developing our brand. Theinternet, for sure, has been a big factor. Pricing and shopping are easy to do from the comfort of your living room. The competition of the internet helped us to develop early on the customer service factors that set us apart and add value to the process. The slow economy forced us to “stay lean” by trying to use in-stock inventory to build a design project, allowing us to bring fresh inventory into the store.
2. What have you done in your business to respond to those changes and how is that working for you?
I think the biggest epiphany that I have had is to realize that we can’t compete with internet pricing and shouldn’t try. We try to explain to our clients that while they will never get the best “price” from Nandina, we hope that at the end of their project they will feel like they have received the best “value”. We believe that we don’t decorate rooms we help our clients design lifestyles. That is a completely different approach then just price shopping. Our business model is built on customer service. We strive to give our clients a completed room, not just sell them a sofa. If this includes rearranging their bookcases, and moving artwork to a new location, we happily include that.
3. What do you predict for the interior design industry? And how will you prepare for it?
I think as designers in this economy we need to clearly understand our brand and how our client niche relates to that brand . If your brand is identified with quality, value, service and trust than you can overcome purchasing based only on price and move into the realm of consultative sales. Becoming a consultant to your client sets you up as the expert and the trusted advisor. We need to focus on what we do really well, with the clients who seek and crave the attention to detail that we can offer. Our challenge is to keep our eye on the bottom line, and to not sell ourselves short in the pricing structure.
Thanks so much to Susan and Sue for sharing your insight and dedication to excellence!