The field of interior decorating and its various niches, such as Home Staging and Color Consultations, are in hot demand. HGTV, DIY, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and more have created an unprecedented interest in the art and science of decorating. As you watch today’s “Deco-lebrities” transform a room in an hour, it seems fun and exciting and can send a confusing message. For any of you in the business, you know this is hard work…but so gratifying. It takes more than talent to grow a clientele and a successful business. Enjoy our tips that will help you go from aspiring to established.
1. Start building content on social media and a blog.
Even if you are still in the simply curious stages, start building online credibility with content. When you are ready to launch your business, you will have pre-established your connection to the industy. Credibility is important so your future clients feel like they can trust your abilities.
2. Find your trades people.
You will need access to multiple contractors, electricians, painters, and more. Start building that list now by asking friends and family who they would suggest. Talk to your local building supplies store and ask them for references. Also, take the time to build relationships with them. I can’t tell you how many jobs I have scored over the years, that were referred by my painter or electrician.
3. Find Vendors.
When you begin, you may focus on retail shopping for your client. But as your business grows, you will want to acquire to the trade only and wholesale vendors. This will allow you to make more money and also provide your clients with unique resources. Subscribe to industry magazines like Furniture Today and Home Accents Today. If you have the opportunity attend a Trade Show like AmericasMart in Atlanta or Las Vegas Market.
4. Get Organized.
Face it…if you are a creative, there is a good chance that you are not very organized. It is the nature of the beast. In the early years, I cheated myself out of money by losing receipts, not having an ordering and tracking system, and losing samples. In today’s digital world, it is somewhat easier but there will still be a paper trail and samples that will need to be tracked. Create a separate office area that doesn’t have to double as the dining room table, if possible. Have places to store samples and use vinyl see through pouches to keep paint, fabric, and flooring samples for each client. I actually placed them in a 3-ring binder alphabetically by client.
5. Remember, this is your business…but you work for them.
Your job is to create beautiful rooms and if that was all…it would be so easy. But you have to deal with people and that can be a challenge. You will have to adapt your conversation and presentation style to fit the client. Remember the old adage, God gave you 2 ears and 1 month, so listen twice as much as you talk. Often times our creative brains get in the way and the wheels start spinning. In the process, we forget about that communication and connection with the client. Really hear what they say and create a room that delights them…this isn’t about you.
6. Don’t be afraid to fire a client.
Watch for red flags that could signal a tough client. Don’t let the seduction of being paid for a job get in the way of your peace of mind.