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




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