The educated consumer – part 2

Let’s have a look at the value proposition of an interior designer:

When we look at interior design marketing  we often see keywords like

  • experience
  • resources
  • creativity

All inherently important characteristics of a good designer, but more detail is needed. Detail about the process of designing a space. So designers should include a description of how a job will develop over the weeks and months that it takes to complete. The more detailed the workflow the more value is added in the client’s mind. See, customers are in fact not always right, which is why it’s our job to educate them and that in itself is another value. So a real value proposition, say on a website or brochure, should include a sample work flow, from concept to completion.

  • Determination of client needs, wants, dreams and budget – all are important even if they don’t all fit into the budget
  • Physical assessments of the project – measurements, photos, floor plans, elevations
  • Conceptual presentations – sketches, drawings, mood boards
  • Resourcing of materials
  • Design presentation
  • Design approval and ordering
  • Order and shipping management
  • Delivery and installation coordination

There are many more responsibilities for the designer during any given project, coordination of sub contractors, management of damaged or incorrect items etc. and along every step of the way calming of the customer’s frayed nerves. It’s a tough job. It’s only to a rather small extent a creative job and the rest is the business of being creative. A good designer watches out for his clients best interests and develops a design with the client in mind. A good designer foresees stress factors and avoids them or keeps them as far as possible from his or her client. A good designer creates a space in which the client can find peace of mind and gather energy for the challenges that face him in his own life – the design process should not be one of those challenges.

With a designer providing so many services often for a flat or hourly fee, a client should think twice before going out and ordering merchandise behind the designer’s back unless he or she really wants to take on all of the responsibility.

It’s all about education and expectation. If we are very transparent with our customers about what to expect and how things work, we can engage them in process as valuable partners with one respecting the other’s areas of expertise and knowledge.

“But some of them will never learn and always try to shop me” I hear someone say. True. They’re out there. Always have a minimum fee in your contract so if you get out-maneuvered at the furniture store you still have a retainer you can count on. Be strict with your fees, you’re not doing this for your health. You’re providing a valuable service and it is your profession not your hobby.  Set rules, stick to them, do a great job and word of mouth will continue to provide you with clients, most of whom will already know how you work.

And never forget “Not every customer is your customer”.

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~ by vulfin on December 4, 2009.

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