Interior Decorator Blues

My wife and I hired an interior decorator to do some work in our living room a few years ago. The decorator appeared to have a good reputation and had been in business for several decades so it was an easy decision to hire her.

In my mind, when you work or contract for someone, it’s important to get to know your clients a little bit. Do they value punctuality? Do they have plenty of time to review paint colors, window features, custom made furniture and carpeting? If your clients have plenty of time, do they put a lot of stock in decorating a room or house? These are things the decorator should try to find out ASAP. Of course, this approach could apply to contractors too — get to know your client’s personality styles which may be as valuable as what fabric and color they may want to choose.

z3For example, as clients, we spent a lot of time reviewing the types of carpeting we might want. We’re not familiar with all the types and shades of carpeting, that’s why we hire a contractor. If we say we want a durable tan carpet for our living room at a good value, and those are our only requirements, this should help the designer. In other words, we’re not that particular and want this done quickly and efficiently. In my mind, the designer should take internal that information and focus on just a few pages of her carpeting resource guide to check that off the list. If the designer is organized and smart, they’ll have samples of the texture and/or the color. Regardless of our input, we spent too much time reviewing pages and pages of potential carpeting fabric and styles as my wife and I gently shook our head.

Window treatments are next. Because I had previously painted the room, this should help in the decision making process. Because of my lack of experience in this domain, I stayed out of the window treatment decision. I may ultimately have to install them, however, because I’ve obtained some wisdom in my life, this portion of the process I will let the women decide.

The last area was furniture. We stipulated that we didn’t want to spend any more than $4000 on a couch, chair and love seat. because it was customized, we couldn’t feel and try out the furniture. I don’t mind the custom furniture proz2cess if we do things right. After focusing on the size and color of the furniture, my wife and I stipulated our budget was $4000 for these 3 pieces. Like the carpeting, we had just a few minor requirements besides the budget. Honestly, the furniture is lovely and comfortable although the budget became an issue.

The cost exceeded our budget and I was not happy. When you clearly stipulate a budget about a project or part of a project, the decorator or contractor for that matter has to pay close attention to what is said and what is not said. Are my clients serious about the budget? What will their response be if we’re over budget, even by a few hundred dollars? Are they literal folks or are they merely saying that you can’t exceed the budget by too much over that amount? Again, business people need the ability to read people and apply that into the decision making process.

z1A few years later, my wife met this decorator who constantly complained about her struggling business. Apparently she’s struggling with her business even though the local economy and the rehab economy is doing much better.

Even if someone is really good at what they do, if they forget the fundamentals or how to deal with people, their business may struggle or not reach its potential. If someone doesn’t regularly phone calls or return calls in a timely fashion, that may not bode well for their brand. Not being punctual, especially to clients who value punctuality may not bode well for their brand. Going on and on with styles and selections when clients only have a few requirements may not bode well for their brand. Customer centric?

During this latest conversation my wife had with this business person, the decorator complained about being unable to relate to millennials. She says they act and live differently and she just can’t connect with them. Of course, other business people may have similar challenges. Regardless, it’s just another aspect of her business that she doesn’t have a good handle on.

 

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.

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