How To Run an Interior Design Firms and Business

Interior Design Firms

Interior Design Firms: Do you want to know how to be a top residential interior design firms? I know that people say like oh how fun is it to be a decorator or be a designer…

But you know what it’s actually a lot of work? so in this article, we’re gonna get you set up with a checklist on things that you need to do in order to set up your interior design business and to run it successfully.

At the end of the article I’m also going to have a checklist for you that you can download, so be sure to stick around for that. I’m Claire Gephart I’m interior design business consultant and I’m here to help you with my no-nonsense approach to success. So let’s do this.

What services Will Your Interior Design Firms Specialise in?

The one thing that you want to consider when you’re looking to set up a business or if you’re already got your business going and you want to make sure that you can be successful with it is you want to know what your niche is and what services you’re offering to clients.


I know a lot of times when people first start commercial interior design firms they are worried that they don’t want to niche themselves into something because if they do they’re concerned that now they’re not going to get as many clients as what they could if they’re too narrowed down in their type of service that they offer.

So if you’re just starting out and you want to kind of give it a little more open then that’s fine but just make sure what the services are that you’re going to offer. And then once you’re into your interior decor company you’re going to realize? what it is that you love about design? and maybe some of the things that you don’t really love doing so much in the business. And that is your answer to figuring out what your niche is going to be.

So you may want to niche into. kitchens and baths you may want to be the one to go to for nursery rooms or for custom living rooms design. And then once you know what services you’re going. to offer almost always you’re going to start any sort of service with an initial consultation and sometimes you may just offer the initial consultation.

To me I find that these are actually easy money and I really love the two. hours I’m in and out I provide as much value as I can and I think it’s a great service. You know to fill in the gap and make a little bit extra money for your biz.

Once you know what services you’re going to provide then you’re going to need to know what kind of software you may need in able to provide your clients with these services, or what kind of tools you need for your business.

I do a lot of 3d rendering so I need to have a software that’s going to be fabulous to show clients what their space is going to look like before they actually start a renovation or a decorating project.

So I use chief architect the design pro version there’s absolutely other programs out there that you can investigate and that you can use just use one that you feel is best for you and fairly easy to learn and the key tool that I use in my business is my large color board.

So I do a lot of color consultations and I want to be really confident when I’m providing clients with colors I’m specifying paint color for their walls. So I use my large color boards take them with me everywhere I go and that why I can explain the clients why I’m choosing that color I can show them and I compare to other colors. So that’s been a fabulous tool for my business as well.

Also consider any accounting software that you may want to use I personally use QuickBooks but I know there’s fresh books there’s design Docs and again there’s a lot of other ones that you can use but if you’re just using the Excel spreadsheet that’s what I use when I first started it’s really hard to figure out where you’re at with your books you.

Know how much money you’re making or how much something cost. If you have an accounting software it’s going to make your life a lot easier. I can promise you that and also for your bookkeeper and your accountant later that they can do their work more efficiently it’s gonna take them less time which is going to cost you less money.

To see what other tools I invest in go check out my video that I did called what’s in my bag and you can see what tools I bring to an initial consultation and that I use regularly with clients for my business.

The other thing that I highly recommend and I see a lot of people not doing sometimes In Design is investing in a great looking website and professional portfolio pictures. I cannot stress this enough I would rather see six amazing photos on your website than 25 crappy ones.

I always say that having quality photos leads to quality clients and it really is so true you want a website that’s easy to navigate consider which form. you’re going to use what platform. I use WordPress there are other ones like Wix and square space that you can design your own. I’m not really familiar with those ones you can always check them out to have interior design companies websites.

But what I like to do is I like to see where other designers who are doing what I want to aspire to be like. what are they using what tools are they using.

WordPress for me is a big one because I can do a lot of plugins on that later on I can look into affiliate marketing and it just gives me a little bit more flexibility as far as I know. so I suggest WordPress but do you’re investigating and figure out what’s going to work best for you.

Organised Processes in Interior Design Firms Are Essential

In order to run a successful interior design firms and business you need to have organized processes. I know everyone thinks that. having a decorating business is fun fun. right, but it actually is a lot of work there’s a lot of stuff to keep track of especially if you’re looking to order furniture for clients through. different suppliers you want to know the details of which specific fabric you’re putting on a sofa and are you doing nail heads and what colors are what of the chairs.

Not to mention if you’re doing a kitchen design you want to be able to maybe have a questionnaire that you can specifically ask clients over and over again about specific kitchen needs. So you need to know how you’re going to be designing the kitchen for your clients.

So is a lot of forms there’s a lot of checklists good thing is I can absolutely help you with this so make. sure you check out my website and go to the shop page and see what I have on offer there they are gonna be invaluable tools for your business and then you’re not gonna be starting from scratch in terms of trying to set up all these forms on your own because I’ve already done the hard work for you.

Another thing is is that as we do our business we conduct business with clients they are going to want to know if you can refer them to trades.

Absolutely this is a massive part of why people hire an interior designer, because they want to be able to get great referrals from someone like us, who have been in the business for a long time.

Make sure that you go out there and you set up your relationships with your builders, with general contractors, make sure you have a painter, plumber electrician or you know I like to particularly use my GC mi GC then hires all of those.

Again there’s different ways on how you can run your business. and how you actually want to set things up. for me I do not project manage this is something that I found out after a couple of years I do not like project managing, I know some gals love it and guys and design that they really love to take the project right from the start seeing all the way through to the end manage all of the trades.

For me, I don’t really like that. so I set up my business where I do what I love to do which is the initial consultation I’ll do the design and I’ll help choose all of the finishes. the only thing I really project manage is the custom decorating, so if we’re doing a fold bedroom or full living room or dining room design then I will yes of course I will manage any sort of trades my seamstress my upholsterer arranging all the furniture but other than that it’s really important to decide.

If you want to manage the projects and then you have to make sure that you have great relationships with all those trades because it will be down to you to make sure that you are scheduling them in on time that they’re showing up when they need to be.

Otherwise the project can get delayed. everyone gets frustrated and that’s never good. in addition to having fabulous trades people that you can refer to your clients you all want to set up accounts with vendors and different suppliers for furniture. if you want to be offering those kind of services. you can always attend trade shows such as high point market that happens twice a year once in the spring again in the fall there’s a Las Vegas show.

Many other shows throughout the year check locally first go to those shows build those relationships with your local vendors first and as you progress your business you may want to expand on that and be able to purchase furniture, you know from suppliers around the world depending again on your aesthetic and the type of service that you want to provide.

Now when you are in your interior design business you want to make sure that people can find you. so you’re gonna have to have some great marketing strategies in place. you need to make sure that you’re promoting yourself whether it be on social media, whether you want to do more face to face, with in the community but it’s really important that you let people know what you do one fabulous way of doing that is by video as I’m doing here.

If you can have a few key videos on your website where you’re sharing with people and you can say hey these are the services that I provide these are the benefits of my services. then that is such a useful tool that I’ve been using in my business since 2013.

If you’re a little bit nervous about video you’re unsure how to do it then by all means go check out my course I have it’s called video for profits make more money and attract better clients with video and it’s so true.

Have Promotional Materials to Hand

Think about what your marketing strategies are think if you want to have some printed brochures. you would want to have those done up with your professional pictures that you’ve had taken right because you’re doing professional photos like I suggested, and these you can give out to your trades.

You can give to clients at the initial consultation or maybe you just leave some in your car and every now and again when you meet somebody you can pull them out and you can give them that to show them what you do and how beautiful you can create spaces.

That way you are getting the word out there and letting people know that you are running an interior design business and that you are passionate about what you do and that you can really change their life for the better.

Now what’s the one thing that you probably look out before you’re gonna go on holiday or before you want to book a hotel or a restaurant. do you look at the reviews? a lot of people are looking at reviews so you also want to make sure that in order to run your business successfully once you’ve had a happy client you want to be asking them for a testimonial.

Now you choose where you want to do this I like to do it on house because that’s where I get 50 percent of my clients from, so I like to just keep all of the testimonials and one area so you haven’t got like a few here a few on Facebook, some on Google.

All of mine are on house currently nearly at 100 client reviews and when clients contact me through house one of the things that they tell me is that they have contacted me because they. really enjoyed the reviews and what clients had to say about me.

Make sure that after you get that copy client at. the end you are contacting them and you are asking them if they would be happy to write a really quick review for you and how much it would mean for your business and it really does help to boost your credibility.

And last but by no means least if you are running a successful interior design firms business it has to be profitable you need to be making money there’s no point in doing this yes it’s our passion, we love it.

It’s fun you know but it actually is a lot of hard work and it’s really. important that you make money at the end of the day so I want you to consider what are you gonna be charging for your services.

How are you gonna be getting different revenue streams. are you gonna be doing markup on furniture? are you selling the furniture you know a specific price and make sure that you’re getting your commission on that? do you request any referral fees from trades? are you selling products online?

Okay so it’s really important that you think about that because very quickly you’ll find that in running an interior design firms business, you have a lot of outgoing. so for your website or for your accounting software, your email addresses that you collect for printing materials for your software if you’re gonna buy like something like a chief architect or your painted boards you know all of these things cost money.

So you need to make sure that you’re constantly bringing in that revenue and that you’re making sure that your business is profitable and that’s all about being a smart business owner.


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