Scaling up your interior design firm is something that most designers aspire to do. Whether that means taking on more staff, working on projects with bigger budgets, or building a stronger reputation in the industry, having defined goals for your firm to work towards helps keep everyone in the business moving forward and looking ahead.
You might be a principal designer of a start-up firm with big plans for the future or the office manager of a large, well-established one. Either way, it's imperative to check in regularly with how your firm is operating and see what's working (and not) in order to reach those milestones.
If you want to keep your business and your reputation growing but you're unsure of where to start or are simply looking for some inspiration, don't worry – we've got you. Read on below as we uncover 7 ways to take your interior design industry profession to the next level.
1. BRANDING AND SOCIAL MEDIA REFRESH
Is your interior design firm still rocking the same logo, colors, and fonts as it did when it first launched years ago? If so, it's likely that the company changed a lot since then, meaning a brand refresh is in order.
Great branding can set you apart from other design firms while visually conveying to potential clients what they can expect when engaging with you. There is a lot of attention given to a brand's online presence – from their website, social media, or Google. If your online brand presence isn't a strong and accurate representation of your design firm, you can guarantee that your potential clients won't get an authentic sense of who you are and what you stand for.
Optimize your social media platforms to attract clients by consistently displaying accurate, up-to-date information. Consider how you utilize photos and videos, curating your feeds to best showcase your firm's style and aesthetics. Someone visiting your Instagram feed for the first time should instantly get a strong sense of your design firm's aesthetics, values, and what it means to work with you.
2. KEEP YOUR ONLINE PORTFOLIO UP TO DATE
In regard to the online world, think about the last time you updated your online portfolio. You most likely have a page on your website, but don't forget about the other online realms that play a role in showcasing your work. With Google My Business, Facebook albums, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and others, there are a number of platforms to keep in mind that may need continual tending to and attention.
When you have new projects to showcase, get them professionally staged and photographed and get the fresh content up as soon as possible. Don't shy away from doing a photo cleanse every once and a while as well. This ensures that regardless of whether a potential client is visiting your website or simply doing a Google search of your name, they always see examples of your best work when deciding whether or not to work with you.
3. MAINTAINING CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS
Client relations are everything in the interior design industry. If you make your clients feel like their project is always at the forefront of your mind, you will likely have a greater chance of winning their repeat business or getting referrals.
DesignDocs’ suite of simplified and accurate client reports will send the message to your current clients that you know the ins and outs of their project and everything is under control. For those that you're still trying to win over, the automatically generated client proposals are not only clear, concise, and informative, but they look good too.
Another way of fostering strong client relations is always to show your clients how much you appreciate them. As we enter into the holiday season, consider sending them a holiday gift or a handwritten note. Even a simple e-card lets them know their value and that the working relationship you've built thus far is important to you and your firm.
4. PR OPPORTUNITIES
Take your business venture to new heights by seizing any PR opportunities you can get your hands on. Coverage in various publications (either print or online) be it Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, ELLE Décor, or House & Home, will bring you exposure to different audiences and is a great way to build your firm's client base and credibility.
PR can be tricky to tackle on your own as it often leverages already established relationships with media, brands, and influencers. Consider engaging with a PR firm or agency that can guide you through this process. They can help you prepare the necessary content to make your PR pitch just perfect. A good agency will immerse itself in your world and become an extension of your team.
5. ATTEND DESIGN INDUSTRY EVENTS
It's not only about articles, advertorials, or editorials; attending design industry events is key to staying relevant and increasing visibility.
Obviously, the last couple of years have been tough on the event industry. However, regardless of whether events are in-person or virtual, attending local, national, and international design events and seminars enables you to represent your brand in the industry. It is a great way to stay current with industry trends and changes, as it keeps you connected to your peers and opens up fantastic networking opportunities that could take your interior design industry profession to the next level in the coming years.
6. SETTING GOALS
To have profitable growth in your firm, it's crucial to set both short and long-term goals – and stick to them as best as you can. First, think about where you want your interior design firm to be in 6 months, one year, five years or even ten. Then, formulate a path to getting there by identifying smaller goals to achieve in working towards this vision; these will act as stepping stones along the way.
One of the most important things when setting goals for the future is understanding how your business performs in the present. Without having this accurate benchmark, you risk setting unreachable goals. The business management software your design firm uses should be capable of providing the financial intel and data you can use to gauge.
For example, within DesignDocs, you have a suite of various financial reports right at your fingertips that provide this insight. From sales and profit reports to gross margin reports, time tracking reports, and more. All of these reports allow you to set realistic goals and targets for your design firm to work towards.
7. INVESTING IN A PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE
Investing in project management and accounting software gives your design firm a huge advantage in this competitive, fast-paced industry. Having the right software solution helps you with day-to-day operations of your interior design business as well as planning for future growth. Think about all the administrative and housekeeping tasks required to keep your business running: invoicing, accounting, budgeting, quoting, and so on. This might not be the "fun stuff," or the reason you originally started a design company, but it does have to be done.
A powerful and industry-specific software such as DesignDocs assists you with the nuts and bolts of your business. It frees up your time by automating mundane tasks, leaving you to focus on other things that will take your interior design industry profession to the next level.