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Ideas for Designers

December 28, 2011

The above headline was the original intent of this blog during the worst of the recession. Lots of ideas and suggestions, from one designer to another, were shared using this medium as the messenger, and I am grateful to have heard from many designers that they read this blog, tried a new idea for their business, and it worked!

One of the best is the idea of adding services to your existing business. What do I mean?

If, for example, your design business has moved from regular interior design into assisted-living, ageing-in-place design services for wealthy baby boomers (smart you!!), then consider offering more than design services. Often this client is at a very delicate time in their lives and needs to rely on someone they really can trust, ie you! For instance:

  • Why not help with the entire downsizing process? Provide an expert (billed through your firm, or with your firm getting a fee for service to set this up and manage it) to appraise their posessions and work with you and the client to decide what to keep for the new home, what to sell, and what to give away. Often, clients think certain posessions are of great value when in fact they are not. An appraiser can take the sting out of this discovery, and help you remove the items from the inventory.
  • Provide a service to discreetly sell off unwanted furnishings, again through your firm. Suddenly those antiques they inherited might not work for them any more, but might produce revenue both for them and for your company! You can find, approve and bring in a re-seller (E-Bay seller?) to handle this sort of thing for them.
  • Help them with their real estate decisions. Often, the interior designer is their most trusted business relationship. Unlike their attorney, you have the keys to their house! If that is the case, people, as they age, rely more and more heavily on those they truly trust. So, you can really help them by vetting a real estate professional ahead of time who can work with your clients as they make one of the most difficult transitions in their lives. This is also true of insurance brokers and companies (Long Term Health Care?). These may not directly reward you, but word will get out that you really help with a wide assortment of services and come through for your clients in many more ways than just design, and that will bring more business, guaranteed! You might end up with a consulting portion of your business that is tangentially related to interior design, and an additional profit center. Why not?
  • Provide reliable moving/storage and other services, all billed through you, or all billed directly but with your firm getting a fee for service.

This sort of service expansion can work in any business. For regular design services bring in architects, landscape architects, appraisers, movers, etc, again all under your auspices and all vetted and approved by you and your firm. Providing more comprehensive service to existing clients is one way of expanding your business in a flat environment. In this case, the expansion comes through developing a trusted network of service providers that you can bring into the client relationship as required. It helps the client, it helps you, and word-of-mouth praise for your firm, a designer’s primary marketing tool, becomes even more positive and powerful.

It’s and idea. Try it!

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