They always say, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I say, the same thing goes with running your business. If you’re not yet charging the fees you want, snagging those high end clients you dream about, and getting published the way you’d like, run your business like you already have them.
Show That You Can Handle Success
Why? Because to get there, you need to show that you can handle it. How? Get your business as organized, systematic, and process focused as possible. Because as you do, success will start to follow. Design clients, well really, any client, wants to do business with those who know what they’re doing. No matter how high, low, or mid level the business is. Clients don’t want chaos, confusion, or flying by the seat of their pants. They want to know what the plan is, who will manage the plan, when the plan will be executed, and how. And the more capable you are of doing that, the more successful you will be.
And the more you do this at your current status, the faster you’ll start moving towards your ambitious dreams. If you catch yourself saying, “When I charge this amount, I’ll start delivering better service.” Or, “When I charge this amount, I’ll start being more organized with my process.” then getting to that level is going to be extremely tough. You won’t be able to get to the next level of success, unless you can show in your current state that you have what it takes to get and operate successfully at that next level.
As Profits Increase, So Do Client Expectations
Because as your profits increase, so do the expectations of clients. If you’re interested in moving towards the luxury and high end space of interior design, you need to be ready. You need to be practicing, improving, and learning in your current state all that you can about how to run a seamless process from beginning to end. Not that you need to always have projects with no issues, as projects will always have issues. But that you have a clearly defined, very well managed, and continuously improved upon process that makes you (and your team) ready to move to the next level. Because even if your designs are ready for the high end space, your business needs to be even more so. You don’t want be in a position where over time you raise your fees to the point where you’re in the high end space, but aren’t actually ready to deliver that high end experience.
Higher end clients simply expect more. They’re used to well run businesses. And unique, personalized service. They’re used to things being seamless. For problems to be handled mostly without their involvement, and for it to be done quickly. It can be a tough space to move into if you’re not ready. Higher end clients hire high end designers not just for the designs, but maybe even more so for the service. They expect that things are “taken care of.” They expect to be “taken care of” themselves. And they expect for you to know how to do just that. Why?
Because that’s what they experience with other high end businesses, and those expectations carry over. The Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons don’t just have softer mattresses and bigger bathrooms. They also have a clearly defined service culture that is expertly managed from beginning to end. They know that if they want to charge a premium price, they have to deliver a premium experience. They take the time to understand their client – what they want in a hotel, what they need, what they hope for, what stresses them out about traveling, what excites them about traveling. And deliver upon that seamlessly.
Run Your Design Firm Like You’ve Already “Arrived”
But did they start out that way? Nope. The Four Seasons Hotel actually started as a roadside motel, believe it or not. Years ago I read the book, “Four Seasons” written by Four Seasons founder, Isadore Sharp, and was shocked at its humble beginnings. His original plan was actually to be in construction. And began by building his first motel on the side of the highway for a friend. Then built another, that was a step above the first, with his and some investors’ money in the city. The next was a resort. Little by little, he became a bigger and bigger success. But all the time, he ran his business as if he had already “arrived.” Even though he started out with charging $10-$12 a night, he kept a laser focus on personalized service, expertly managed hotels, and service oriented employees.Until he was eventually able to charge $400.
So as the year comes to a close, and you consider your goals for the new year, consider what processes you need to refine, put in place, write down to help you get to the next level. Think about what services, and service, you need to put in place. What systems. What training you need to deliver to your team. What needs to be improved so that you can be just as proud of how well you run your business, as you are of how you put together a space? Start running your business right now, like you’ve reached all of your dreams. So you eventually can.
If you’d like even more ideas on how to provide the kind of client service that gets you higher fees and profits, visit the Services page to find out more!