The practice of interior design is a complex one- and when dealing with multiple clients at one time it’s pretty important to have systems in place to be organized and efficient- so more energy can be spent on creating and strategizing and helping clients lead more beautiful and functional lives.
Here are a few tools that improve our efficiencies and we rely on pretty heavily for today’s Friday 5:
TOOL #1: PROJECT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE Once we create designs and selections have been approved by the client, we move into the ordering stage. The process of ordering is more complicated than you would think, as there are so many factors that impact a product like colour, size, finish, etc. When addressing a whole house that can be an extensive list! Keeping everything in one electronic space ensures that these details (and money attached to them!) are ordered accurately and the client gets what they were expecting.
How this helps our clients: it keeps us, and them, organized. The biggest benefit for me is that it is all in the cloud, so I can check status of orders, the exact colour of a product, exact size, etc. all in one place.
TOOL #2: DESIGN SOFTWARE
We use Mac pretty much exclusively in the office as it’s so easy to sync various devices and I find the platform more user friendly (and faster) than PC.
Programs we use on a regular basis include CAD for mapping out accurate floor plans and elevations, SketchUp for creating 3D models which help our clients visualize how fabrics, furniture, finishes will look all together in a space, and Illustrator / Photoshop / InDesign for laying out client presentations and other visual needs.
How this benefits our clients: While I still love to hand render, we made the move to 3D models recently with great success. We can make changes to a model in minutes sometimes, and get client approval that much faster, making our trades happy and ultimately the deadline of projects remaining on track.
TOOL #3: DROPBOX
Much of my initial interaction with clients is on paper. Design presentation packages are printed, samples are labelled, contracts are signed. But as we move into decision making phases I end up sharing a electronic Dropbox folder, where all changes are stored. Budget updates, change orders, revisions to elevations, anything impacting the project goes into Dropbox and is synced in real time for clients to access. I love that I can access Dropbox in the cloud.
How this benefits our clients: The real time updating helps for efficiency and there is no shifting through back emails to locate correspondence or a decision made in a meeting. Everything is recorded in the cloud.
TOOL #4: GREAT RELATIONSHIPS WITH VENDORS
We’re nice to people, so they are nice back! In a business where so many things can go wrong due to human error, we really try to invest in the humans who help us do business.
How this benefits our clients: When we’re in a jam, vendors we have supported through the years help us out. Reciprocity is a great thing.
TOOL #5: GREAT RELATIONSHIPS WITH TRADES
I tend to refer the same trades over and over again- which means that they have lived up to my standard level on past projects. What’s an even better measurement for me is how they act when they make a mistake- a trade that has integrity and good communication skills is one I hang on to. I also deal with trades who love iPhones- it’s pretty much a prerequisite!!!!
How this benefits our clients: You’re being referred to someone I have personally worked with, and like. The same reciprocity thing applies here too- I try to be good to my trades, and they are good to me.
There’s a small look into how we operate, and the support structures we have in place to make the many steps it takes to complete a design project a reality!