How Much Money Does Inefficiency Cost Your Interior Design Firm?

How Much Money Does Inefficiency Cost Your Interior Design Firm?

I’m so excited to introduce you to our Guest Blogger, Faith Sheridan.

Faith Sheridan
Faith Sheridan

Besides being an absolutely lovely person and a good friend of mine, Faith is also a very accomplished interior designer. Her firm, Faith Sheridan Interior Design is based in Seattle. She is known for her signature style, ‘Elegant Restraint’.

Faith also doubles as a prolific blogger and a speaker on design and social networking.  She’s been around long enough to know who’s who and she is a very well respected member of the interior design community.  She also has more knowledge than any other designer I know about social media and its players.

Today she will be sharing with us a bit about Social Media.

Everyone, please welcome…drum roll please…. Faith Sheridan!

Growing your business

Are You Socially Connected? Why You Need a Social Media Presence

So exactly what is social marketing and why must designers quickly adopt a strategy? Social marketing is all about connecting with people on a human basis through conversations and messaging about shared interests. Unlike commercial marketing, social marketing’s primary focus is on the consumer and learning what people want and need instead of trying to persuade them to buy what we happen to be selling.

We humans like to engage with others who share our interests, even when we haven’t yet met. Social marketing concepts include sharing of yourself through user-generated content, sharing your thoughts and building social currency through blogging, connecting to people you don’t know yet through messaging( Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), and providing feedback through comments.

Because of readily available programming on HGTV, many consumers are participants who attempt to produce their own design solutions (with varying degrees of success), and can now appreciate the professional training and practice necessary to accomplish great designs.

Designers who encourage and share with consumers and welcome their thoughts and comments quickly gain admirers (fans) and in turn the designer gains respect and trust. Respect and trust are crucial to successful design projects, both from repeating clients and new ones.

David Bassett, founder of Ava Living says there are three tenets of the new social marketing paradigm we all need to accept:

1. Retool

Like all companies that have successfully retooled for web 2.0, interior designers must do the same. Having a yellow page listing and email address is so basic; you might as well say you have an abacus and a pencil. As David notes, consumers don’t shop for your services at YOUR website; they go to where other consumers are talking about you. And if no one is talking about you, then for them you really don’t even exist.

2. Share Information

Designers maintain an encyclopedia of design knowledge in their brains. Sharing our knowledge earns us expert status and gets the design project. We need to let consumers get to know us and build connection.

3. Develop Fans

If you speak to designers they say their business is from referrals. While this represents an instant endorsement, it fails to recognize the larger audience waiting to get to know you beyond the smaller fan base. With social marketing you engage with people you don’t know, represent your knowledge and personality and build a fan base that extends your reach to new potential clients. Using social media, we share the knowledge, personality and attitude that are a window to our design skills and talent.

Thank you Faith.

We will be talking much more about social media, websites and the interior designers’ online presence in future blogs.

As a matter of fact, MMG will be letting the cat out of the bag in a few weeks.  You will want to have your seat belt on for this one…

See you next time!

– J. Molloy

A NOTE FROM JULIA MOLLOY

My Dear Friends,

How are you holding up?  It’s been an intense few weeks and as the situation evolves, life is feeling rather surreal. I live in Portland, Oregon, in Washington county where the most cases are. We are on full lock down now. My 11year old son, William has been out of school for a couple weeks. He came down with a fever a bit ago. He recovered quickly, but I was so frustrated that I couldn’t get him tested. They could only test 40 people a day here and were testing only those very sick. Just absurd! Other than that, we are fine.

I’ve had my ups and downs. My emotions span intense sadness to gratitude for the global reboot and quiet time.  I posted a very personal video on insta @juliamolloy1 yesterday sharing an awareness that in order for me to move fully into solution mode, I really needed to get in touch with my grief and sense of loss. It was uncomfortable sharing such a vulnerable moment, but I know so many of you are feeling waves of sadness too. It seems that everyone is staying positive and ready to work through the current issues all gung ho. For the first couple weeks, I was a little numb. It wasn’t until yesterday that I allowed myself to grieve. I wanted to make sure you know that it’s OK to go through that sadness and you are not alone in that. I think we are all on an emotional roller coaster these days. I know for me, it was necessary that I process those emotions before I could really move forward.

Today I woke up feeling better and ready to move into solution mode again. I want to reach out to each of you and remind you that you are not alone in this and that we are in this together. Despite the overwhelming scope of this situation, it is important to step back and remember that it is temporary and we will make it through this. For those of us that survived the recession of ’08 we have first hand experience and know that this too shall pass and we will thrive once again. In the meantime, there are a few things we need to do as we navigate through these rough waters.

Focus on SELF-CARE. This means many different things and they often shift from day to day. A few that I am including in my day are:

Rest – Sleep or rest when your body tells you it’s tired | Staying in touch with our support circle of friends and loved ones  |  Eating healthy  |  Allow our feelings to flow  |  Include things that bring us happiness each day without fail  |  Exercise even if its just stretching or dancing around to music  |  Stick to a daily routine

Center ourselves in LOVE and GRATITUDE. It will ebb and flow, of course, but if we can focus our energy on loving ourselves and our loved ones more intensely than ever and pay attention to all the little blessings this time is offering us, we will maintain a better sense of well-being. A few ideas I am gradually incorporating are:

1. Playing with my son. Really getting into it, with no time limits or distractions. Board games, Disco Nerf battles, making things together etc.

2. Tell people you love them often and let them know the things you appreciate about them

3. Sending out note cards or letters to people that matter to you

4. Indulge in Goddess Bath time – bubbles, bath salts, music, (wine), I even have a glowing unicorn rubber ducky (Anyone who knows me well is not surprised! lol!)

5. Doing a little at home online workout program. (Full disclosure, I haven’t quite been doing my daily workout, but I will get there.)

Get CLARITY around your Business. It is difficult to make decisions with so many unknowns and that can cause a great deal of anxiety.  We do have several indicators and methods to make A and B scenario plans. There are also several key metrics to look at to determine what tough decisions you would have to make and when.

I will be releasing several online videos and courses to help you do this with clarity and confidence, over the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you are being hit hard, here are a few steps you may want to take immediately:

1. If you rent your space, call your landlord and ask for a hold on rent for 60 or 90  days.

2. Apply for a bank loan or an SBA loan. Some states also have local programs you can apply for.  Stay in the know and apply for whatever financial assistance you qualify for. Do not wait.

3. Go through all of your expenses and auto-pays and eliminate everything you can.

4. If you have student loans, call and ask for a deferment. They are mandated to provide this to you.

5. Some utilities, rent and mortgage companies and other debtors have been instructed to provide grace periods with no penalties. Reach out to them and ask for extensions as needed.

These steps will preserve your working capital so you do not go into panic mode and have a little space to pivot your business.

Next time I will be talking about that pivot, specifically staffing choices and outsourcing scenarios to consider.

Below are a few links to valuable industry interviews and guidance from the best.

LEARN MORE ABOUT JULIA

WANT TO KNOW WHAT SOME OF THE PROS ARE DOING AND WHY? LISTEN TO AN INTERVIEW WITH MARTIN LAWRENCE BULLARD, JAMIE DRAKE HOSTED BY LLOYD PRINCETON.

FOR INSTANCE, HOW MARTIN AND JAMIE HANDLED THEIR DECISIONS AROUND KEEPING OR LETTING GO OF STAFF.  VERY INSIGHTFUL! THANKS AGAIN, GENTLEMEN!

LISTEN TO MARTIN LAWRENCE BULLARD AND JAMIE DRAKE

WANT TO KNOW WHAT LLOYD PRINCETON OF DESIGN MANAGEMENT COMPANY AND I ARE RECOMMENDING FOR EMPLOYEES AND EMPLOYERS RIGHT NOW? HERE IS THE INTERVIEW WITH LLOYD PRINCETON ON MONDAY.

LISTEN TO JULIA MOLLOY AND LLOYD PRINCETON ON STAFFING

ONE MORE GREAT RESOURCE FOR WOMEN BUSINESS OWNERS IS THIS DAILY ZOOM MEETING HOSTED BY NAWBO – NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN BUSINESS OWNERS. BROADEN YOUR VIEW BEYOND OUR INDUSTRY. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A MEMBER TO JOIN IN ON THESE VERY INSIGHTFUL MEETINGS.

JOIN A DISCUSSION WITH LEADING BUSINESS WOMEN

I am here with you. We have everything we need to make it through this!

If you need guidance, I am here to help. Click here to schedule a complimentary needs assessment call.

Thanks for being a part of the BOLD community. I appreciate you. Stay safe and healthy and I’ll see you next time.

xo-

Julia Molloy

BECOMING A PROACTIVE INTERIOR DESIGN FIRM – STEP 1

BECOMING A PROACTIVE INTERIOR DESIGN FIRM – STEP 1

TRANSFORMING THE REACTIVE STATE – HONOR EACH OTHER’S TIME

Often when an office is running in reactive mode, everything is last minute, late, or wrong. An office can get into the mindset of guilt or indebtedness. Knowing you’ve done wrong, you tend to acquiesce to the client to help make up for your errors, lack of answers or information or delays.

In this state, you will find that you also, have a disregard for people’s time.  In an attempt to keep up or put out fires, you may interrupt your team constantly.  If this is the case, STOP IT!

When your firm is in a reactive state, you spend your time putting out fires instead of getting work done!

This becomes a terrible cycle to get into. As a result, your team is less productive, you are frantic, there is a high stress energy in the office and ultimately, due to your delays and the hyper vigilant client… we’ve all had them… the client ends up running the project, not you! They call, you drop everything, the day has gone by, you have accomplished nothing, which then puts you into an even more reactive state!

First, understand something, Luv.  The change must start with YOU. Focus on the manner in which you conduct yourself as the CEO.  Calm assertive energy is what your aiming for. As the leader, you set the tone.  Be the change you seek.  If you walk around in a state of panic you will get more of the same.  If you are an A.D.D. addict, noone else will focus either.  If you assert a strong presence of focused productivity and a calm efficient approach to your projects, others will become more productive and focused.

Second, FIX YOUR SYSTEMS!  Fixing your systems will allow you to get a handle on timing and quality of service. As you put these systems in place, model respect for  people’s time and demonstrate respect for your own schedule as well. Clients and your team will ultimately respect you more, place a higher value on your service & product and hold your firm in higher esteem.

Simply put, fix your systems and wean yourself and others off of calling or interrupting constantly for instant gratification.

With new clients, establish your work style from the beginning.  Always model respect for their time by having your phone meetings with them scheduled ahead of time by your office manager.
You demonstrate a respect for their time and expect it for yourself as well.  Consciously or not, most clients, and employees will follow your lead.  Be in control of your time and your schedule and others will do the same in working with you.

Set reasonable boundaries with overly demanding clients.  Balance the line of flexibility and firm demonstration of respect.  Thus you establish a non-frantic working method and are perceived as being more in control and worthy of more clout. (We’ll talk more about hyper-vigilant clients later.)
Within a few months, if done consistently, you will find that you, your team and your clients relate on a higher level and honor each others’ time. When you run a proactive firm, your life is easier, your service is impeccable and your clients are in awe of your brilliance. It’s a beautiful thing.

We will be working the steps toward creating a proactive vs. reactive interior design firm. Recommendation #2 on the topic will come next.

In the meantime, this is your homework:

Begin to honor your time and others’ time more consciously.
Pay attention.
How often do you interrupt others?
How often you you get interrupted?
Increase your awareness of the reactive state of your design firm.
How often are you reacting versus being the proactive leader sagaciously propelling everyone else forward?
Above all, know thy self.  The first step in any transformation is awareness.

– J. Molloy

Day 2 – Get Organized – Let’s Talk Branding

Hi Everyone!

Are you ready to GET ORGANIZED?!

Hopefully you saw yesterday’s post and have downloaded and printed out the Day 1: Design Firm System’s Checklist. It will serve as our platform for the 20 day GET ORGANIZED  interior design business program.

Today, Day 2, we will begin at the beginning, which is your CORE.  Your Key Characteristics – the ‘WHY’ behind everything you do. It is what your interior design firm stands for, its VIBE and its MISSION. Everything you do is to be congruent and/or expressive of these characteristics. Not only every point of contact with your clients, but inward facing as well; your office, your processes, your desk trays and files, your library and so on.  Does your team eat lunch with plastic forks and drink tap water from paper cups? Does your office look like a tornado hit it on most days? (Yes, I know you are prepping for a big presentation tomorrow.) LOL!

Skinny jeans and t-shirts or pencil shirt and Prada, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is – ARE YOU ‘ON BRAND’. Do you embody luxury as a firm?

LUXURY COMES FROM THE INSIDE OUT!  You must BE luxury to effectively provide luxury.  And luxury isn’t some snooty, outdated, overpriced BS gimmick. It is anticipation of every need. It is functioning at such a high level, that you can address even the intangible needs of your clientele in a brilliant, branded and innovative way. It’s about being the best version of yourself possible.  To do that, you must start by clearly defining that brand identity in a tangible way. And to help us do this as interior design business owners, we enlist the help of a particular tool and method. THE KEY CHARACTERISTICS!

So, guess what I am gifting you today? You guessed it! My proprietary little method and tool, the Key Characteristics!  This simple worksheet will guide you through the process of defining your design firm’s brand anchors either for the first time, or as a revamp for the new year.  Download the Key Characteristics Worksheet here.  Fill it in over the weekend and continue with me on this journey on Monday.

Watch this video to hear what I have to say about your Key Characteristics and how to use it to navigate your interior design business.

So, you got this, my friends. Download the doc, watch the video, do some work on this and enjoy!l See you on Monday!

As I said, no 2 Key Characteristics are exactly the same. So interesting!

Tell me, what is the most unusual or unexpected characteristic on your list?

What other ways will you use your Key Characteristics in your design business? I’d love to hear!

Until next time, Be BOLD!

Julia Molloy

Day 1 – Get Organized with Julia Molloy

Are you ready to GET ORGANIZED?! Now is the time of the year when we refresh, reboot and realign your interior design business for the year ahead. To that end, I am walking you through a 20 day GET ORGANIZED program for your Interior Design Business! I invite you to take advantage of this complimentary 20 days to organized program. Just follow along each business day in February.

I am super jazzed about it. I am giving away 1 free interior design business tool with each day’s assignment. Today, we launch with the Design Firm Systems Checklist. I’ll be walking you through 20 of these . Check of off the items you already have and take advantage of my gift and info each day.

To download Day 1’s document, go to my shop right here on my website,  and follow along all month.

Watch the video above to get started. I’ll say a little hello and then walk you through the Design Firm Systems Checklist.

Let’s DO This!

Download the doc and enjoy!l see you tomorrow!

How many items on the Design Firm Systems Checklist do you already have checked off? LMK in the comments. See you tomorrow!

Be BOLD!

Julia Molloy