January 16, 2013

More Design Business Stuff…

WARNING: Design Business Post.  Run away family!!

Last week was a great first week back for us in the office!  I’m feeling so ready to rock and am so excited about how things are going…  we’re continuing to work on some amazing projects with our existing clients and we have some really exciting new projects too.  As you probably remember (from my super-long post from about a week or so ago)  we’re really trying to focus on being the best we can be and making our clients as happy as possible, and to do that, we’re starting out by focusing on streamlining our processes.

{The work table in the office at our old house.. photo by Helen Norman}

For those of you that aren’t in the design business (and who are still reading…  Mom, I know you checked out at the warning 😉 😉 it might help to give you a quick outline of how our design process generally works:

1. Client Inquiry -typically through our website or by phone
2. Client Phone Consultation with me to mutually decide if we want to work together
3. Client Meeting/Project Survey- we go meet our clients and check out their home
4. Create the plan for the home over time
5. Design Presentation- I present the plans to our clients
6. Edits/Tweaks to Design Plan- we make changes and come up with new things where needed
7. Design Approved- Clients give us the go ahead
8. Goods ordered & work is Scheduled… Shopping for accessories & art & one-of-a-kinds
9. Manage goods/ contractors
10. Installation of Goods 🙂
11. Project is complete


{the office at our old house…  The new office contains pretty much all of the same stuff}

(BTW…  Does anyone notice how little “designing” is actually involved in this entire process??  You hear all the time that it’s 80% business/ 20% designing and I’ve never actually wanted to know the true breakdown but you can definitely get an idea from this.)


{The “fun” part of a design business}

Currently, so much of what we do is done manually.  We use a combination of Quickbooks, Word docs and excel spreadsheets to create design projects and manage them from start to finish.  We spend an incredible amount of time doing this.  (My husband came on full-time recently to do this and his entire job focuses on implementing design plans & managing projects. )  Even with him now (3 of us in total) there still don’t seem to be enough hours in the week to get everything done!!

So when I was browsing around on the Molloy Management Blog last week & started reading Julia Molloy’s posts (some of them referring to Studiowebware) I finally decided to make the switch over from Quickbooks to Studiowebware.  Studio webware is an online program where you can create, edit and implement a project from start to finish without having to enter all of your information in a million places.   (Right now we must write information for a product down at least 5 times.  (not exaggerating- I write it in my plans, then the budget, then for quote requests, then for purchasing, and then again to track…  with studiowebware, it’s in there once and you can do whatever you need to with it- share with clients, get quote requests, place POs, etc.)

{Studiowebware Example}

…And to my understanding, that’s just the beginning of what the program does.  eeeeeeeek!!  I can’t wait to get our projects into Studiowebware and salivating at the thought of having more time in the day.(!!)

So after my post went up, I got a call from Julia Molloy, owner of Molloy Management Group, thanking me for the blog mention.  Julia has worked/works with some of the country’s top interior designers like Michael Smith and Jeffrey Allen Marks.  (I was so excited to talk to Julia because after reading her blog, I’m definitely drinking her Kool-Aid!)

Julia was super-sweet and offered me a complimentary one-hour consultation.  I was so excited!!  Before our chat, she had me get to work on a few things and do a little branding soul-searching.

{Photo by Maya Hoffman for Piccola Mag}

This past Friday we had a “Go To Meeting” (where you can see one person’s (Julia’s) computer screen and also see each other – should have realized I’d be on video and have done something with my hair 😉 😉   and talking to Julia was one of the most worthwhile hours I’ve ever spent.  I could tell right away that she’s such a genuinely kind and caring person, which when you’re sharing such personal information, is really important to me.  She’s so savvy & with it and is also gorgeous & charismatic.  (Jealous yet? 😉 ;).

The hour flew by and my head was swimming with ideas- both from Julia and from what the conversation had spurred.  At the end of our conversation, Julia offered to let me take her Business Blueprint Course -which should whip us into serious shape- and so I’m starting this Thursday!! (To read all about it & what is it, click here.)   I also signed us up for her Studiowebware introduction (I’m not sure there’s any way we’d figure out the program without help… I’m not tech-savvy & although Dave & Meghan are, we don’t have the time to learn the program on our own.)  and purchased more of her one-on-one time.

I want to be really clear that I’ve never hired anyone to help me with my business before and I seriously believe the benefits will crush the expense.  (or I wouldn’t have made this decision.)  Every time we make a financial move in our company or in our lives my husband and I both weigh the potential benefits against the expense and only make the move if we’re fairly certain the expense is worth it and will help us get to where we want to go.

{Like our new house}

In exchange for the Business Blueprint, I’ll be posting a bit about my experience with it.  Just to keep it real, Julia wanted me to be sure to post only when I feel like it & am truly excited about something (like today.)  Right there, that shows how “with it” she is because, as most bloggers know, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you have to post on something you don’t have any interest in and there’s nothing worse for readers than to feel like they’re being sold to  (BTW- This is why I never do product reviews or book reviews unless I’m so crazy over something that I have to mention it.)  SO, because I know a lot of you are designers/decorators/whatever you want to call us, I’ll be sure to share how the process is going.

In the last business post I wrote, there were so many great comments about this topic and there was also a lot of interest (both in comments & emails) on some sort of design business round table…  I have to be completely honest that I’m unfortunately not up for any type of organization that it might require time-wise on my part (I’m up to my eyeballs in commitments I can barely make) but that I love the idea of it.  I would love to be able to bounce ideas off one another & share in our processes.  I’ve always wanted to go to one of the Business of Design Conferences but timing hasn’t ever seemed to work out for me.  I’m sure there are lots of these types of discussions there.  I think Julia has also done and does webinars on various design business topics so that might be something to look into too.

Anyway, I’m off (to a presentation) but will be sure to share my experiences with the Business Blueprint!!

ps- Thank you so much for the sweet words about the luxe magazine feature!!
If you’d like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

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