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It is tough out there for interior designers today. Sometimes it seems like the entire would is out to get us, or to take our business, right?! I don’t want you to throw in the towel, though! We just have to work smarter to keep afloat. Here are some of the hard facts, and how I’m responding to them:

Magazines Are Dwindling

Wow – what happened to the shelter category of magazines?? It seems like every day there’s more bad news from the home sector, and there are some publications that just don’t look like they used to. The ones that are left are literally shrinking in size and they are covering a lot of odd topics in their quest to grab more readers. The day I saw a “DIY Your Own Wedding Flowers” from Architectural Digest, I thought I would fall over. So what’s a designer to do? I’m focusing more on local media who really do need my input and projects. And that’s where my clients are! I’m also making my own media through social media posts and emails. It’s definitely reaching the right people that way!

Competition Is Coming from All Sides

Speaking of Arch Digest, how about their partnership with a group that now offers $69 room designs?? That shows the value in our business. NOT. That TV show that Elle Decor is doing doesn’t help, either – I didn’t think that high-end magazine would be the one to tout “Luxe Looks for Less,” but they are. Retailers are offering design services, both traditional and online stores. And everyone seems to be a decorator these days! But you know what? They can’t match our expertise, our customer service, and our creativity. The key to this challenge is to do what you do best – and what they CAN’T do. Luxury customers want you to save them time and take care of every detail. You can’t do that for $69.

Everyone Wants Your Client

Here’s a big secret that’s not so secret: Most of your vendors are about to go direct to the consumer. Why wouldn’t they? They would make so much more money! And they need to protect their businesses, too. So if you’re still making the bulk of your money by selling product, then be sure you’ve got a Plan B. You could talk with local retailer about selling through them at a discount that you kick back to the client. You could be super-loyal to a few vendors so they’ll remember you when they’re deciding who will still get discounts. And you can be sure to tout your creativity and intellectual property as your major selling points. Those are still worth far more than your discounts.

Trouble Ahead?

In major markets, there’s already some rumbling about how the super-luxe clients are already pulling back on discretionary spending. If you read financial pages, you know that people are using the R word that no one wants to hear (recession). Don’t panic! Just keep an eye on your cash flow and think about building your own cushion. Some designers actually did well during the 2008 crises by offering different services and keeping their best clients super-happy. Plan now for any eventuality.

The key to remember is that it’s like this in ANY business – not just ours. It just feels super-personal to us because there’s a lot of change coming at once. We just need to button up our systems and stick to our budgets. Remember that my Return on Interiors system has all of that already planned out and set up for you! Click here to learn how it can help you squeeze every bit of profit out of your projects and keep you humming over any potholes or speed bumps!

xoxo,
Kathleen