Growth is often one of the main factors that define "success" within the business world. Every designer wants their firm to expand, and they want it to happen quickly. However, it's important to remember that real expansion is a process; you wouldn't want to go from zero to a hundred before your firm is ready. Growing an interior design company takes time, commitment, and the right tools, and it comes with its fair share of pain points. Therefore, it pays to ensure you have the suitable systems and resources to handle a larger scale of business operations. If you don't, you'll risk hurting your business and its reputation in the long run.
If you're looking to grow your interior design company, you can take some proactive steps to lead you in the right direction - as smoothly and well-thought-out as possible. Curious? Keep scrolling to read our seven tips on promoting growth within your firm.
1. HIRE EXPERTISE
Do you need a full-time office manager? Or an additional design associate? It's tough to be an expert at everything - maybe even impossible! Ensuring you have the right employees to handle your firm's workload and unique needs is essential.
For example, if you're spending lots of time monitoring the accounting for your business, consider investing in bookkeeping services. You'll likely never look back! A great bookkeeper will take over the administration on this front, helping you better understand the numbers side of the business and point out areas where you may be leaving money on the table. As a result, you can focus on keeping your design firm on track to achieving its growth goals or doing more of what you love to do – design!
2. STRATEGICALLY MARKET YOUR FIRM
The design industry is competitive; therefore, strengthening your firm's marketing and branding is crucial for growing your business. However, it's an inefficient use of time and money to advertise and promote your firm without direction. Having a strategic marketing plan in place, even if it's just a few pages, will ensure you've sat down and thought about your firm's goals, target audience, strengths, weaknesses, and competitive advantages.
Once you've put a framework together, let the plan guide you when making marketing decisions, such as where and which resources you should allocate. Some things to consider include:
- How do you use social media, what channels do you leverage, how frequently do you post, and what content do you put out there to best reach and engage your clients, vendors, and other designers? Ultimately social media is about maintaining and increasing your brand awareness.
- What touchpoints do you have with your clients, vendors, suppliers, or others who come across your business? For instance, do you send weekly project progress reports to your clients? Is there a branded newsletter or blog sent from your website regularly? Communication is key.
- Do your logo and branding align with your company? Is it an accurate representation of what your firm stands for?
- What digital advertising is available that could help increase your firm's exposure? Consider Google Ads, paid social advertising, or similar to get your brand seen by your target audience.
3. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
The old saying, "it's not what you know, it's who you know," is valid for most industries. When working within creative industries, this statement rings even more true. Forming relationships could lead you to your next big client and accelerate your firm's growth. For example, you might need to call in a favor from a supplier or vendor to get an important project over the finish line. You might need a referral from an industry colleague to find that missing-piece-of-the-puzzle-employee your firm has been looking for for so long.
Ultimately, you never know who might help you solve a problem over time, so networking is critical. Meet and talk with as many people as possible, whether when popping into a showroom or at a big-ticket conference.
The trick to networking is to ask questions, listen, and engage with who you're talking to and not just think about how they can help you. In fact, you should always keep in mind how you can help them. This approach is crucial when forming valuable, long-term, mutually beneficial relationships - remember, it's a two-way street!
4. BE ADAPTABLE
If the pandemic taught us anything, it's that being adaptable within your business is vital for longevity. We've all had to roll with the punches as companies across the globe have changed the way they operate and logistically deliver the services they provide.
One difficulty for many design firms lately has been supply chain delays. Setting your firm up to adapt to the gaps caused by an unpredictable economy or supply shortage will ensure that potential hindrances don't throw too much of a wrench into the works. This could look like expanding your supplier base to have more vendors on hand when your preferred is unavailable. Flexibility within your design firm will continue to be necessary for getting many projects over the line. When projects mean sales and sales mean growth, being adaptable is crucial.
5. ACTIVELY COMBAT INTERNAL WEAKNESS
Often, disorganization in a firm's back office can limit them from reaching their full potential. To ensure your firm keeps growth on the horizon, first, find the weak spots in your internal processes. Then focus on the most significant time drains to see immediate and noticeable results.
Do you have a suitable procedure for creating purchase orders and monitoring their statuses? Are you able to easily acquire clear project reports for your clients? Do you have multiple staff tracking time efficiently? Is the hourly time billing a painless process? There are many ways to handle these tasks, but finding the right tool to automate them will be a lifesaver, especially if you're looking to grow your business. Invest in the proper project management software to help automate your most time-consuming tasks and take your business to the next level.
6. COLLECT DATA & TAKE THE TIME TO ASSESS
If you're not monitoring your firm's progress, how do you know if what you're doing has a positive impact? Knowledge is power, and in this day and age, knowledge stems from data. Ensuring you collect this data for each project and routinely assess it will keep you aware of whether or not your firm is on the growth path.
It's good to carve out time to evaluate what is working so you can push your firm toward profitable growth. DesignDocs financial reports provide deeper insight into your firm's numbers so you can analyze whether it's on the right track. For instance, if you want to know what suppliers you're buying from most frequently or compare the labor costs of several vendors, DesignDocs can help you find trends and patterns in your charges, income, and expenses that you can then capitalize on. Remember, growth takes time, so it's essential to ensure that your firm stays on the straight and narrow while giving your growth strategy some time to play out.
7. FOCUS ON CLIENT EXPERIENCE
Are your clients happy with how your firm is handling their projects? Is your design team communicating effectively? How are you managing client expectations and budgets? DesignDocs allows your team to track every aspect of a project, meaning that information is readily available and always accessible to pass on to the client.
For example, utilize DesignDocs' project summary reports to send to clients periodically throughout the life of their project. Available at the click of a button, this time-saving report shows you and your client all the numbers in one place. They can easily see the total value of approved goods by project area as well as the value paid and unpaid. This report keeps everyone up to date and shows your clients you take managing their budgets seriously.
A simple communication tool like this will give your clients confidence in your services and enrich their experience working with your firm. In the future, they'll be more likely to recommend your firm to others, and everyone knows how much referrals and word of mouth can impact a business' growth.