Don’t get bamboozled by these interior design business blunders
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
If your interior design business isn't where it could be and should be this summer, you might blame it on blunders. You may be committing the same sales and marketing missteps that sabotage the success of too many design professionals, too often.
Here are some of the most common causes of design business breakdowns:
Problems in the pipeline. When you don't network, you don't sell. A quick fix for slumping sales: the "daily dozen." Reach out each day, each week to 12 people you need to know, and who need to know you.
Forgetting your fans. Then again, if you spend all of your time chasing after new clients, you may pass up possibilities with your current ones.
Ponder how to serve existing customers better, and more often. Why? Because you're seven times more likely to get business with a current client than a prospect. And it costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one.
Forgetting about the future. Talk about tomorrow. That's the strategy that savvy designers use to up-sell, cross-sell and develop long-term relationships.
Discus Phase II before you've completed Phase I. Ask about the vacation home while you're working on the primary residence, and the branch offices before work is completed on the corporate headquarters. Dust off your billiards skills, and start setting up your next shots.
No niche. Designers without a target market are like ships without rudders. The most financially successful design professionals are the most specialized. They build their brand and profits by focusing on specific markets, like national hotel chains, offices of area physicians and attorneys, or local residences of corporate executives.
Asinine assumptions. Predicting what clients can't afford is bad business. How do you know what's in their bank accounts?
You do clients — and yourself — a disservice by not offering your best design services and/or product lines because you assume they can't afford them. Present your best, before discussing the rest. Then, let them decide what is and isn't in their budget.
Wimpy websites. It's your most important marketing tool, but is your website securing or scaring away business? It's hurting rather than helping you if it doesn't differentiate you, isn't updated regularly and is too wordy and difficult to navigate.
An impressive "About Us" section is especially important. Bad bios will disqualify, rather than qualify, you for the kind of projects that you want and need.
Holding onto hardship. Underachieving employees, unreasonable clients and unprofitable product lines can bring you and your profits down fast. Get rid of them. Figure out what's working for you — and free yourself from what isn't. One of the best ways to gain financial freedom is to eliminate the obstacles to it.
Giving in. You help clients enhance the value, and eventual resale value, of their space, and you should be compensated accordingly. When you succumb to price pressure and cut your fees, you devalue your expertise. When customers question your price, question their priorities — other than the lowest price.
Remind them you can save them time, headaches and, yes, money.
Giving up. You've heard it before, now hear it again: Quitters never win, and winners never quit. When business slows down, that's no time for pity parties. It's a time to dig deep, bounce back and, if necessary, reinvent yourself.
The design industry's top dogs at some point all fell down. Then they stood up. And they pushed on. And they never, ever gave up.
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