A competitive market and hectic schedules make interior design a challenging industry to compete in, even for larger firms. Many interior design firms face obstacles—from finance to effective project management to accounting. Below are 5 struggles most interior design firms face.
1. Managing Costs
One of the biggest struggles for just about any business, interior design firm or otherwise, is managing costs. Labour, materials, marketing, and even your monthly phone bill add up when you’re running a business. For most interior design firms, managing the costs of materials is the biggest challenge. Labour costs can spiral out of control if a project takes longer than initially anticipated or if a client changes their mind mid-way through the project. Inefficiencies in your workflows can also be costly, in terms of both time and money. Many firms look to improve their procedures, such as ensuring they have a great accounting process.
2. Keeping the Cash Flowing
In addition to managing costs, interior design firms often face cash-flow challenges. Many interior designers require deposits before they’ll do any work for precisely this reason: They need the influx of cash to purchase materials or pay workers to do the job. Clients may be hesitant to pay deposits, but a deposit is also a safeguard against the worst-case scenario—a client who never pays the bill. While those clients are few and far between, plenty of interior designers have faced the struggle of getting clients to pay invoices on time. Late payments compound cash-flow issues in an interior design firm.
3. Finding the Right People
Another problem interior design firms commonly face is finding the right people for the job. Whether they’re contracting out work or looking to hire someone for their own offices, finding people with the same work ethic, passion, and values can be very difficult. Another problem is partners that do poor quality work or fail to meet agreed-upon deadlines. In the office, a salaried employee who doesn’t work out comes with a high price tag for his or her employer.
4. Managing Client Expectations
Interior design involves a lot of people management; in addition to finding the right partners inside and outside your firm, you’ll also have to work with your clients—often quite closely. Many clients come to interior designers because they have visions, but not the resources to execute them. Others may not have a particular design in mind, but they might be alarmed by costs. Still other clients will ask you to achieve two contradictory ends or have unreasonable expectations about timelines. Managing your clients’ expectations is a huge part of interior design—and it’s always challenging, no matter how large or small your business is.
5. Scheduling and Time Management
Interior designers are busy people, so ensuring that you and your colleagues are managing your time effectively is an important aspect of the job. In most interior design firms, scheduling is always a challenge; there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it. Creating efficient workflows and processes can help your firm save time and improve your work-life balance.